Every young baller in the United States (And perhaps in the rest of the world also) just crave the opportunity to be the 1st overall pick in the NBA draft as the best prospect in the world, earning a big paycheck and stealing the headlines from the very first day they set foot on the court.
Nonetheless, sometimes scout doesn’t actually recognize the best player in the nation as the first overall pick, or the needs of some team make them choose a different path than they’d do if they didn’t have the roster they currently own.
Over the course of the year, we’ve seen the Bennett-Oladipo situation happen a lot of times, with the 1st overall pick being a huge bust (or at least not as good as the following) and the second being a very productive player. So, even if neither of them is a superstar, we’ll discuss this syndrome right now as we talk about the top 10 2nd overall pick in NBA history.
Honorable mention: LaMarcus Aldridge, Alonzo Mourning.
10. Earl Monroe
Well, this guy didn’t earn the “Black Jesus” name out of pure charisma, as Earl the Pearl was an extremely dominant scorer at either guard spot coming to the Baltimore Bullets out of Winston-Salem State just behind Jimmy Walker.
Monroe immediately made an impact for the Bullets, winning the 67-68 Rookie of the Year, 4 All-Star appearances, the Hall of Fame and winning the ring in 1973, leaving career averages of 18.8 points, 3 boards and 3.9 dimes per game.
9. Jason Kidd
Before pursuing a career in coaching, Kidd was one of the best two-way point guards in the history of the NBA, being a nightly triple-double threat and just a nightmare to try and score against with his outstanding lateral speed and pocket picking ability.
Drafted just behind Glen Robinson, Kidd landed in the Mavs to leave career averages of 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 8.7 assists per game, making 10 All-Stars and 9 All-Defensive teams, obviously winning the 94-95 ROY and also winning the championship with Dallas in 2011.
8. Gary Payton
The New Jersey Nets decided to go with Derrick Coleman at 1st and let “the Glove” slip to the second spot. Needless to say a decision will go down as yet another terrible choice the Nets have made through their sloppy history.
Through 16 years, the defensive standout manages to put career averages of 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.7 helpers per contest to go along with 1.8 steals per contest, winning the 95-96 Defensive Player of the Year, making 9 All-Defensive teams and winning the ring with the Heat in 2006.
7. Bob Pettit
Way back then in 1954, the Baltimore Bullets drafted Frank Selvy with the 1st overall pick, while Pettit got to the Milwaukee Hawks out of LSU as a very dominant two-way big man with the ability to put a lot of points on the scoreboard.
Pettit averaged over 26 points and 16 boards per contest during his NBA career as a member of the Milwaukee and St. Louis Hawks, winning the ring in 1958, as well as a couple of MVPs, the ROY and making 11 All-Star appearances with 4 All-Star MVPs.
6. Bob McAdoo
The Portland Trail Blazers actually had the chance to go with Bob McAdoo at first during the 1972 NBA draft, but wind up selecting LaRue Martin, one of the worst draft busts in NBA history. In the Meantime, McAdoo made a name for himself as an incredibly talented big man for the Braves, Celtics, Knicks, Pistons, Nets, Sixers and of course: Lakers.
Over 13 seasons in the Association, McAdoo averaged 22.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 dimes and 1.5 swats per game, winning the 72-73 ROY, 1 MVP and 2 NBA championships as a key piece of the Showtime Lakers.
5. Kevin Durant
His below average defense and skinny arms and legs made Durant fall to the 2nd overall pick behind the dominant and prominent Greg Oden back then in 2007, yet another poor decision by the Blazers, as Durant became one of the league’s elite historic scorers while also developing an outstanding defense against pretty much every single position.
Recently winning his first of hopefully many NBA championships, Durant’s also an 8 time All-Star, 4 times Leading Scorer, 1 time MVP, 1 time Finals MVP and of course, the 08-09 ROY, and the sky seems to be the limit for a guy that’s just entering his prime.
4. Rick Barry
If we’re more accurate, Barry was actually the 5th pick of this Draft, as the 1st 3 picks were the so-called territorial picks, while the Warriors selected Fred Hetzel at 1st and then Barry as well as second, one of the greatest players in the history of the ABA and the NBA due to his offensive explosiveness and versatility.
At Small Forward, Barry averaged 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2 steals per game in over 45% from the field, making it to 12 All-Stars, winning the Rookie of the Year and also a championship with his respective Finals MVP.
3. Isiah Thomas
And with the 1st overall pick of the 1981 NBA draft, the Dallas Mavericks decided to go with Mark Aguirre instead of the ultimate leader of the original Detroit Pistons bad boys, Isiah Thomas A.K.A the baby-faced assassin, a 2 time NBA Champion.
Through just 12 seasons in the Association, Thomas made the same number of All-Star appearances, winning one Finals MVP, 2 All-Star MVPs and making the All-Rookie Team, leaving career averages of 19.2 points, 3.6 rebounds. 9.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
2. Jerry West
Actually, the 1st pick of this draft was Oscar Robertson, so drafting either would most likely be a great choice. Still, West has to be considered the 2nd best 2nd overall pick in NBA history, leaving a legacy in the Association that goes way beyond the logo.
West is without a question one of the best two-way players in NBA history, averaging 27 points, 5 rebounds and 6.7 dimes per game to go along with 2.6 steals, winning 1 Finals MVP despite being on the losing side, winning a championship and making 5 All-Defensive teams as well as 14 All-Star appearances.
1. Bill Russell
And the ultimate 2nd overall pick has to be Bill Russell a guy that single handed won 11 NBA championships in 12 seasons in the Association, winning 5 MVPs and making the All-Star game in every single one of the seasons he played in the league.
Averaging 15.1 points and 22.1 rebounds on an era where they didn’t even count blocks, Russell was the most dominant force in the entire league and’s the main responsible for the Celtics historic success despite being chosen behind Tom Heinsohn (territorial pick) and Sihugo Green.