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The NBA All-Time Draft: First Round Picks 1-15


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With picks 16-30 already taken here’s a look at 1-15 in the NBA all-time Draft

No.15 Denver Nuggets: Kobe Bryant 

Bryant is the second best shooting guard in NBA history.  While he is active and recently signed a 2-year contract extension the question now is his career winding down as injuries are a growing concern for him.

He has led the NBA in field goals three times, field goal attempts six times, free throws twice, free throws attempted once, points four times and points per game twice. Has won two Finals MVP Awards and two MVP Awards

Career averages: 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists on 45.4 percent shooting, 33.5 percent from beyond the arc and 83.8 percent from the free throw line.

No.14 New York Knicks: LeBron James

In the next decade he’ll likely end up in the top five. James has worked to become a much better shooter and now teams do respect his mid-range jumper and so far in 2014 having his best season from beyond the arc. He still needs to work on his defense no matter if he believe he deserves a Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Has led the NBA once in minutes per game and points per game. So far has won the 2003-2004 Rookie of the Year Award, four MVP Awards and two Finals MVP Awards.

Currently averages: 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals on 49.6 percent shooting, 33.9 percent from the three-point line and 74.7 percent from the free throw line.

No.13 Atlanta Hawks: Bob Pettit

When he first entered the NBA not many expected much success from Pettit and he ended up proving that just wasn’t the case. Became the first player in history to surpass 20,000 points and known for his relentlessness when it came to rebounding the basketball.

He is one of the greatest power forwards and in 11 seasons led the NBA in field goals made three times, field goal attempts twice points per game twice, free throws made three times, free throw attempts twice, scoring twice and rebounds once. Ranks in the top 10 in minutes per game, points per game and rebounds per game.  Won the 1954-1955 Rookie of the Year Award and two MVP Awards.

Career averages: 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3 assists on 43.6 percent shooting and 76.1 percent from the free throw line.

No.12 Detroit Pistons: Karl Malone

Malone was one of the most durable and rugged players to play. In his 19-year career he missed a total of 51 games with 40 of those games coming in his final season.

He led the NBA in free throws made eight times and free throw attempts seven times.  Ranks in the top five in games played, minutes played, field goals, field goal attempts, free throws made, free throw attempts, defensive rebounds and points. Won two MVP Awards.

No.11 New Orleans Pelicans/Charlotte Hornets: David Robinson

Often overlooked and never truly getting the respect he deserves, Robinson quietly became one of the greatest big men to play the game. It’s also unfortunate that he had to wait two years before stepping on an NBA court.

Still played in 14 NBA seasons leading the league once in points per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game, points once, rebounds twice, blocks twice, free throws made three times and free throw attempts twice. Won the 1989-1990 Rookie of the Year Award, one Defensive Player of the Year Award and one MVP Award.

No.10 Sacramento Kings: Shaquille O’Neal 

Besides Wilt Chamberlain there wasn’t a more physically dominant center in NBA history. The only concern about O’Neal at certain points in his career was his conditioning, yet he doesn’t get credit for his athleticism as he’s mostly known for using his strength to overpower other big men.

There aren’t many centers that are known for chasing down loose balls by diving for the basketball in fact most do not even make the attempt. In his 19 seasons led the NBA in field goals five times, field goal attempts once, field goal percentage 10 times, free throw attempts six times, points three times and points per game twice.  Won the 1992-1993 Rookie of the Year Award, three Finals MVP Awards and one MVP Award.

Career averages: 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 blocks on 58.2 percent from the field and 52.7 percent from the free throw line.

No.9 Golden State Warriors: Tim Duncan

Why not start a franchise with the player simply known as “Mr. Fundamental?” Duncan who is still one of the few players in this draft who is currently playing continually makes more athletic power forwards look bad for example Blake Griffin.

Duncan won the 1997-1998 Rookie of the Year Award, three Finals MVPs and two MVP Awards. While his prime is behind him he’s still one of the main focuses on offense as he still can score in the post and has patented using the glass on his mid-range jumper.

Career averages: 20 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 blocks on 50.6 percent shooting and 69.4 percent from the free throw line.

No.8 Cleveland CavaliersHakeem Olajuwon 

With impeccable footwork Olajuwon dominated on both ends of the court. In his 18 seasons led the NBA in total rebounds twice, rebounds per game twice, blocks twice, blocks per game three times, games played four times and field goal attempts once.

Ranks in the top 10 in field goals made, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, steals, blocks and blocks per game. Won Defensive Player of the Year Award twice, two Finals MVP Awards and a MVP Award.

Career averages: 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 3.1 blocks, 1.7 steals on 51.2 percent shooting and 71.2 percent from the free throw line.

No.7 Washington Wizards: Oscar Robertson 

In just his second season in the NBA, Robertson averaged a triple-double a season in which he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists (led the NBA). One of the best all-around players in NBA history and leading the league in assists six times, assists per game seven times, free throw percentage twice, minutes per game and points per game once.

Won the 1960-1961 Rookie of the Year Award and one MVP Award.

Career averages: 25.7 points, 9.5 assists, 7.5 rebounds on 48.5 percent shooting and 83.8 percent from the free throw line.

No.6 Brooklyn Nets/New Jersey Nets: Larry Bird  

The greatest small forward to play wasn’t blessed with tremendous athleticism, yet made up for it with instincts, ball handling and his ability to shoot the basketball. One of the most well known plays in NBA history came in the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals when Bird stole an in-bounds pass and found Dennis Johnson for a layup.

Bird twice led the NBA in minutes played, four times in free throw percentage and twice in three pointers made. Won the 1979-180 Rookie of the Year Award, three MVP Awards and Finals MVP Awards.

Career averages: 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals on 49.6 percent shooting, 37.6 percent from beyond the arc and 88.6 percent from the free throw line.

No.5 Toronto Raptors: Magic Johnson 

Arguably the greatest point guard in NBA history Johnson’s versatility made up for his at best average defense. As a rookie in 1980 in game six of the NBA Finals he started at center for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He finished the series clinching game with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

Led the NBA in total assists three times, assists per game four times, steals per game twice and in 1981-1982 nearly averaged a triple double for the season. Win three MVP Awards and three Finals MVPs. Ranks no.1 in assists per game at 11.2 and fifth in total assist at 10,141. 

Career averages: 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals on 52 percent shooting and 84.8 percent from the free throw line.

No.4 Minnesota Timberwolves: Michael Jordan 

During the Bulls dynasty in the 1990s Jordan’s ability to dominate on both ends for the floor made up for the franchise lacking a point guard or big man. His only flaw was his perimeter shooting as he shot just 32.7 percent for his career.

In 15 seasons led the NBA in scoring 11 times, field goals made 10 times, minutes played three times, free throws made twice and steals three times. Won the 1984-1985 Rookie of the Year Award, six Finals MVP Awards (most in NBA history), five MVP Awards and one Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Ranks in the top five in field goals made, field goal attempts, free throws made, steals, points, points per game and steals per game.

Career averages: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals on 49.7 percent shooting and 83.5 percent from the free throw line.

No.3 Memphis Grizzlies: Bill Russell

While Phil Jackson indicated he’d take Russell over Jordan based on his 11 championships. The one thing that holds back the legendary Boston Celtic center is that he never became a dominant force on offense. In 13 seasons averaged 15.1 points on 44 percent shooting, which is why two other big men get taken before him.

On defense that was a different story and unfortunately during this time period blocked shots were not a recorded stat. He did end up leading the NBA in total rebounds four times and rebounds per game five times. He won five MVP Awards and that is an impressive feat due to it seen as an award that rewards players who make more of an impact on the offensive end of the floor rather than defensively.

Career averages: 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, on 44 percent shooting and 56.1 percent from the free throw line.

No.2 Los Angeles ClippersKareem Abdul-Jabbar

Holds the record for most points scored with 38,387. Abdul-Jabbar developed one of the greatest moves in the history of the NBA the sky hook. It allowed him to use his length to his advantage as defenders didn’t have a chance to block the shot.

He was also a tremendous defensive player as well. Four times led the NBA in blocked shots including a career-high of 338 in 1975-1976, league leader in total rebounds twice and in his first three seasons led the league in scoring.

Ranks in the top five in games played, minutes played, field goals, field goal attempts, total rebounds, blocked shots and points. Played in 20 seasons winning the 1969-1970 Rookie of the Year Award, six MVP Awards (the most in NBA history) and two Finals MVPs.

Career averages: 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.6 blocks on 55.9 percent shooting and 72.1 percent from the free throw line.

No. 1 Charlotte Bobcats: Wilt Chamberlain

Chamberlain is the most dominating center to have played the game. He continues to hold NBA records including most points in a single game (100), rebounds per game (22.9), minutes per game (45.8) and total rebounds (23,924). Over his 14-year career led the league in scoring seven times, rebounds 11 times, free throw attempts eight times, field goal percentage nine times and total assists once.

Career averages: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists on 54 percent shooting and 51.1 percent from the free throw line.  He was Rookie of the Year in 1959-1960, won four MVP Awards and one Finals MVP Award.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

One thought on “The NBA All-Time Draft: First Round Picks 1-15

  1. He he, the Knicks drafting LeBron James. Way to make every Knick fan in existence be more miserable than they already are.

    I don’t have too much of a problem with this list, give or take moving a player or two in either direction, however, I definitely wouldn’t put the Admiral as high.

    I don’t think he was ever the best center in the league at any time he played and his scoring title and MVP were questionable at best.

    But that’s just one man’s opinion. Fun series, man.

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