Heavy is the crown worn by the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. With the 2010 Lottery drawing being held tomorrow, we’ll get one step closer to identifying the next name in the lineage — John Wall is the odds-on favorite, but things could change depending on who lands the top spot — of players expected to quickly change the fortunes of a franchise, eventually win championships, consistently sell tickets and in most cases make a near-seamless transition from amateur to professional life.
And it’s only fitting that, as teams are whittled away in this year’s NBA championship race, former No. 1 picks have been at the center of NBA attention. LeBron James dominated headlines for the past week as he exited the playoffs earlier than expected and is now looking at a free-agent summer. Dwight Howard, for better or worse, is the axis on which the Eastern Conference Finals will spin. Shaquille O’Neal is on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, about a month away from signing what might be his last NBA contract and wrapping up one of the most accomplished careers the League has ever seen.
It’s no surprise that the list of No. 1 picks is dominated by centers and power forwards — 24 of the last 30 top picks dating back to 1980 were primarily fours and fives — making it tough to put together a group that resembles an actual team, especially of active players. Still, here’s our (active) All-No. 1 Pick Squad:
G – Derrick Rose (Chicago, 2008)
G – LeBron James (Cleveland, 2003)
C – Dwight Howard (Orlando, 2004)
F – Tim Duncan (San Antonio, 1997)
F – Andrea Bargnani (Toronto, 2006)
Bench – Allen Iverson, Blake Griffin, Elton Brand, Andrew Bogut, Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenyon Martin