The National Basketball Association’s first overall pick is the participant who is selected first one of all qualified draftees by a group during the annual National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. The pick is awarded to the team that wins the NBA draft lottery; in most cases, that team had a losing record in the preceding season. The team with the first pick attracts significant media attention, as does the player who’s selected with that pick.
Eleven first selections have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award: Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (album six-time winner), Bill Walton, Magic Johnson (three-time winner), Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan (two-time winner), LeBron James (four-time winner), and Derrick Rose (youngest winner).
Since the advent of the draft lottery in 1985, seven number one picks have won an NBA title. They’re Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Glenn Robinson, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Andrew Bogut, and Kyrie Irving.
China’s Yao Ming (2002) and Italy’s Andrea Bargnani (2006) would be the only two players without competitive expertise from the United States to be drafted first overall. Eleven other international players with U.S. college experience have been hailed overall–Mychal Thompson (Bahamas) in 1978, Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) in 1984, Patrick Ewing (Jamaica) in 1985, Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) in 1997, Michael Olowokandi (Nigeria) in 1998, Andrew Bogut (Australia) in 2005, Kyrie Irving (Australia) in 2011, Anthony Bennett (Canada) at 2013, Andrew Wiggins (Canada) at 2014, Ben Simmons (Australia) in 2016, and Deandre Ayton (Bahamas) at 2018. Duncan is an American citizen, but is considered an”international” participant by the NBA since he was not born in one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. Ewing had dual Jamaican-American citizenship when he was drafted and Irving and Simmons had dual citizenship if they had been drafted.
Be aware that the drafts between 1947 and 1949 were held from the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The Basketball Association of America became the National Basketball Association after murdering teams from the National Basketball League in the autumn of 1949. Official NBA books include the BAA Drafts as part of the NBA’s draft background.
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