Ranking the last 10 No. 1 overall picks of the decade

NBA Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Even as the current events of the NBA come to a halt, there’s a ton to look back on. Here at Hoops Habit, we’ll be reviewing the league’s recent history.

The NBA Draft is borderline impossible to be good at, but it’s also the most important part of team-building. Hit on a late first-rounder, and you have a crucial player on the books at a huge discount. Make that lottery pick count, and you have a franchise pillar that can guide your team for almost a decade.

The last 10-year period was vital for the NBA Draft. The Philadelphia 76ers’ Process put out an intentionally horrible product to maximize lottery odds, and other teams did a facsimile of that in the following years. Only after a change to the percentages did teams consider putting a stop to deliberately losing.

The result manifested in just the first year of the amendment. In the 2019 lottery, the New Orleans Pelicans jumped from the sixth spot to first, while the Los Angeles Lakers leapt from 11th to fourth. Outright tanking is probably not necessary, and obviously discouraged by the league, but high draft position remains crucial.

At the top of each draft, we find players that franchises try to build around. As a result, those drafted No. 1 overall are tasked with saving a franchise from doom.  And yet, many of them are still too young to drink legally.

This has not been an issue for some of these quasi-adults. But for others, the transition proves difficult. Within just the last decade, you can find players who changed the game forever, those who justified such a draft status, and those who were given too much to handle for flawed franchises.

These players have been ranked in reverse order, 10th to first, in terms of past, present and future impact.

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