Landing in the top 5 of the Draft definitely means that you have to be something special and that scouts and teams are eager to either build their franchise around you or view you as the missing piece they need to finally compete for an NBA Championship.
Of course, the first two overall picks are always the most hyped, with all the media and fans getting completely obsessed with them and every single aspect of their life, but more often than not, the players that come after the first couple of picks wind up also being outstanding ballers.
Today, we’re going to honor not the 1st, not the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th pick, as we’re going to focus on the very last position on the top 5, but that haven’t been exactly last on the court, proving scouts that they should’ve gone even higher in their respective Draft classes.
So, sit down, buckle up, and enjoy while we take you through the best 10 players that have gone as the 5th overall draftee over NBA history.
10. DeMarcus Cousins
We start our ride honoring DeMarcus Cousins, the 5th overall pick not so long ago in the 2010 NBA Draft coming out of the University of Kentucky as a very dominant and talented center with a very well developed overall game on both ends of the floor.
Of course, being in Sacramento for most of his career and his hard-nosed temper have constantly backfired the emotional center, but there’s absolutely no doubt that he’s perhaps the most talented big man in the league, having range, handles, and great dribbling skills for his size. So far, Cousins has posted career averages of 21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on 45% from the floor.
9. Mitch Richmond
Some of you may be too young to remember Mitch Richmond, the 5th overall pick of the 1988 NBA Draft coming out of Kansas State University as a prolific scoring shooting guard, and it didn’t take much time for the Golden State Warriors draftee to make an impact on the league, winning the Rookie of the Year in his first campaign in the Association.
Scoring in a huge bunch variety of ways, making it to 6 All-Star games and even to the Hall of Fame, retiring after winning a Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002. Over 13 seasons, Richmond averaged 21 points 3.9 boards and 3.5 helpers per game on 45% from the floor and almost 40% from beyond the arc.
8. Kevin Love
Drafted 5th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and immediately dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love seemed to be one of the most exciting prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft due to his ability to own both glasses while also stretch the floor.
And even though he’s not nearly as dominant and influential everybody expected him to be in the early going, he’s a terrific player that has known to put the team ahead of him, being one of the most important pieces in that Cavaliers Championship run. Now, the former Most Improved Player sits on career averages of 18.4 points and 11.5 rebounds as a very reliable shooter from beyond the arc despite his height.
7. Vince Carter
Vince Carter is without any kind of doubt pretty much a living legend, and few will argue the fact that he has to be the best dunker in the history of the game, a guy that’s willing to leave his body on the line, an athletic freak that just can’t retire without an NBA Championship.
Carter is an example of durability and one of the biggest influences of the basketball players that currently own the league, being in the league for over 18 seasons, winning the 98-99 Rookie of the Year and averaging 18 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game over his career.
6. Ray Allen
Before becoming a three-point specialist, Ray Allen was one of the most prolific and versatile scorers in the league, and ever since his college days at the University of Connecticut, you could see that this shooter was something else, and that’s exactly why the Milwaukee Bucks traded for him when the Minnesota Timberwolves landed him with the 5th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Love it or hate him (sorry, Celtics fans), you just can’t take anything away from one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game and one of the centerpieces of 2 NBA Championships, posting career averages of 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game on over 40% from beyond the arc.
5. Kevin Garnett
The Minnesota Timberwolves were completely sure that they were getting a gem in Kevin Garnett even though he hadn’t spent a single day in college, and that’s exactly why they drafted him 5th overall in 1995 coming out of the Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois.
Garnett thrived in Minnesota as the best player in the history of the franchise just to finally win an NBA Championship with his move to the Boston Celtics, and he has to go down as one of the most dominant defenders in the history of the game. Garnett’s ability to emotionally lead a team and own the glass made him a very scary player to face, and his 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, 1 MVP, 1 Defensive Player of the Year, 15 All-Stars, 1 All-Star MVP and 12 All-Defensive appearances will definitely grant him a spot in the Hall of Fame after playing for 20 years.
4. Charles Barkley
You can say anything you want about Charles Barkley, his bad habits, his hard temper and his apparently not so developed physique, but this guy could play lights out night in and night out even despite having a bit too much to drink in the very same afternoon.
Of course, he’ll be haunted forever by the fact that he couldn’t win an NBA Championship despite playing alongside some of the better players of his era, but the former MVP was an extremely dominant and influential player back in the day, and his career averages of 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds (despite being significantly shorter than opposing players) and 3.9 dimes per game in 54% from the floor make him one of the best players to ever lace them up.
3. Walt Frazier
Walt Frazier is yet another player not many young bloods would’ve heard of, but if you’re a young basketball fan, you should definitely look at some Frazier footage asap. Coming out of Southern Illinois back then in 1967, Frazier was already one of the best point guards in the nation and history will grant him a spot as one of the best players in New York Knicks history.
The Hall of Famer point guard won a couple of NBA Championships with the Knicks, made it to 7 All-Stars (winning 1 MVP) and also made 7 All-Defensive squads, being extremely dominant on both ends of the floor. Over 12 seasons, “Mr. Cool” averaged 18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.9 assists in almost 50% from the floor.
2. Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen just doesn’t get enough credit and recognition, and even though his lifetime averages aren’t as impressive as the one other players on our list dropped through their careers, we just can’t praise Scottie enough and all the impact he had in the 6 NBA Championships he won alongside Michael Jordan.
See, people tend to forget that Pippen was the team’s primary defender and boy, could he play defense. As a matter of fact, he was even considered to be the best small forward in the history of the game ahead Larry Bird himself. That’s why the 5th overall pick of the 1987 NBA Draft out of Central Arkansas is number 2 on our list. Well, that and his lifetime achievements like 6 rings, 10 All-Defensive appearances, 7 All-Stars with 1 MVP and a Half of Fame induction.
1. Dwyane Wade
And finally, the golden spot in our list goes to a superstar that not much colleges trusted in to begin with, but that managed to prove his doubters wrong with a very impressive stint at Marquette, going as the 5th overall pick in one of the most influential NBA Drafts in recent history: the class of 2003 that also featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
Wade has to be considered the best player in Miami Heat history, and his ability to play defense and put points in bunches despite not being a three-point shooter in modern NBA make him a prime Hall of Fame candidate as soon as he’s eligible. Winner of 3 Championships with 3 All-Defensive squads, 12 All-Star selections, 1 All-Star MVP and 1 Scoring Champion title, his averages of 23.3 points, 4.8 boards, 5.7 assists 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks per game make him the best 5th overall pick in the history of the game.