The National Basketball Association’s first overall pick is the participant who’s chosen first among all qualified draftees by a team during the yearly National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. The pick is awarded to the team that wins the NBA draft lottery; in most cases, that group had a losing record in the previous season. The staff with the first select attracts media attention, as does the participant who’s selected with that pick.
First picks have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award: Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (record 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 coming of the draft lottery in 1985, seven number one overall picks have won an NBA title. They are 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 with no competitive expertise in the United States to be drafted first overall. Eleven other foreign players with U.S. college experience happen to be 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) at 2005, Kyrie Irving (Australia) at 2011, Anthony Bennett (Canada) at 2013, Andrew Wiggins (Canada) at 2014, Ben Simmons (Australia) at 2016, and Deandre Ayton (Bahamas) in 2018. Duncan is an American citizen, but is regarded as an»international» participant by the NBA because he was not born in one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. Ewing had double citizenship when he had been drafted and Irving and Simmons had dual citizenship if they were drafted.
Note that the drafts between 1947 and 1949 were held by the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The Basketball Association of America became the National Basketball Association after absorbing teams. Official NBA publications include the BAA Drafts as part of the draft history of the NBA.
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