After breaking down the 19th pick, the 31st pick and the 33rd pick, Right Down Euclid’s Chris Manning is back to do a three-part series on the No. 1 overall pick. In this post — the second of three — Chris takes a look at the last five No. 1 picks.
With the NBA Draft just over a week away, it’s as good a time as ever to take a look back at the past No. 1 picks. While this year may not have someone at the level of the any of the past five picks, there is a chance. This holds especially true if the top selection is Nerlens Noel, who could become a defensive stopper early on in his NBA career. But no matter who it is, don’t expect whoever is selected to have statistics similar to any of the past five rookies.
2008: Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
Career Stats: 279 GP, 21.0 PPG, 6.8 APG, 3.8 RPG, 46.4 field goal shooting percentage
Rose, when last healthy, was a former league MVP and also amongst the top three point guards in the NBA. While it remains to be seen if he will regain his form when he returns to the floor, there is no doubting that Rose is a prime example of what a No. 1 pick can do for a franchise. The Bulls pre-Rose were dreadful, but with him and a few complimentary pieces, the Bulls became contenders. His return in the fall should be amongst (if not the) biggest storyline at the start of the season.
2009: Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers
Career Stats: 228 GP, 20.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 52.9 field goal shooting percentage, 0.6 BPG
Griffin, who missed his original rookie year due to injury, was an absolutely physical freak at Oklahoma. In the NBA, while he has limitations and struggles from the free throw line, he is a starting caliber power forward with a PER of 22.44. Oddly enough, Griffin is kind of underrated at this point. He has a solid skill set, and in the right situation, he could be a piece on a title contending team. For instance, imagine him on a team like Oklahoma City, with a more easygoing locker room, while keeping the up-tempo style of play. That’s where Griffin could really shine.
2010: John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
Career Stats: 184 GP, 16.9 PPG, 8.0 APG, 42.3 field goal percent shooting, 1.5 SPG
Wall, who came out of Kentucky with an incredible amount of hype, has only played one full NBA season. Interestingly enough, that one season was the lockout shortened season of 2011-12. Like Rose (and Kyrie Irving), he will have to shake the notion that he is brittle before he can live up to his full potential. But unlike his fellow point guards, he has a major offensive hole in his game. In order for Wall to become a top 10 point guard, he’s going to need to improve his shooting from mid-range and out. Until then, his overall ability and the potential of the Wizards as a team is limited. As Wall goes, the Wizards go. Next season is huge for Wall, as it is the last on his rookie deal. He’ll likely get a max deal, but is he really worth it? I think we’ll learn that answer next season.
2011: Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Game Stats: 110 GP, 20.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, 45.9 field goal percent shooting, 39.4 three-point percent shooting
Irving, as any Cavalier can tell you, is going to have to shake the injury-prone label before he can become a star. But if he can do that, there is no ceiling on his potential. He has already shown that he is comfortable with the game on the line, as well as having a coming-out party before his first big All-Star weekend. He’s covered ESPN the Magazine’s NEXT issue and also a recent issue of SLAM. If healthy, he could easily become the top point guard in the NBA in two or three years. That’s just a big if at this point.
2012: Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans)
Career Stats: 64 GP, 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BLK, 51.6 field goal percent shooting
A year really can be an eternity in basketball years. A year ago, when the Cavaliers were selecting fourth, they offered their entire draft to the then Hornets to select Davis, but were turned down. That speaks a testament to how good Davis could be. He missed time due to injury, but there’s a reason people have, at times, compared him to Tim Duncan. He’s going to be in the league for a long time and will be a multiple time All-Star. The only question is whether or not he will be a franchise defining talent or a second fiddle on contending team. Either way, it’s hard to do better than Davis at No. 1.