Of the top No. 1 overall draft picks over the last two decades, the Kentucky basketball program boasts three of the top ten, with UK head coach John Calipari possessing one of his own from his time at Memphis.
In Bleacher Report’s recent ranking of the top No. 1 picks since 2000, Anthony Davis was the top-ranked Wildcat, followed by Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall.
Davis came in at No. 2 overall, followed by Towns at No. 7 and Wall at No. 9, respectively. Calipari’s former star point guard at Memphis, Derrick Rose, was also listed in the top ten, coming in at No. 8 overall.
In the player descriptions, Bleacher Report said Davis is “among the most skilled big men the game has ever seen.”
2. Anthony Davis
Now eight seasons in, his career averages of 24.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game leap off the screen. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson are the only players in league history to match or exceed those marks through their first eight years.
Davis is among the most skilled big men the game has ever seen. He has a classical post game, a reliable jumper, a budding three-point shot, a nose for shot-blocking and rebounds and physical tools that belie his 6’10”, 253-pound frame.
And now that he’s paired with a legitimate GOAT candidate on the Los Angeles Lakers, there’s a solid chance he’ll add a championship to his resume. Once (or if) that happens, he’ll undoubtedly be one of the best No. 1 picks of all time.
Like Davis, the major media outlet also praised Towns for his talent on the offensive end of the floor, saying the Minnesota Timberwolves star is “on track to be one of the best offensive players of all time.”
7. Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns is on track to be one of the best offensive players of all time. His 4.8 offensive box plus/minus is tied with Anthony Davis for 13th in NBA history. And among the 69 players with career scoring averages over 20 points per game, Towns’ true shooting percentage (62.2) trails only Stephen Curry’s (62.3).
He’s also had an overwhelmingly positive on-floor impact on the Minnesota Timberwolves over the course of his career. They’re plus-0.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and minus-5.0 with him off.
If he can develop into a reliable defensive anchor, he’ll have an argument for top-center-in-the-league status.
As for Wall, the outlet justified the former Kentucky superstar’s ranking by highlighting his elite stretch of play from 2013 to 2017, but noted that his current run of injuries pushed him down the list a bit.
9. John Wall
John Wall is in the midst of a devastating spate of injuries, but he was one of the game’s most dominant point men before that.
From 2013-14 to 2016-17, Wall averaged 20.0 points, 9.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. In that stretch, the Wizards were plus-3.1 points per 100 possessions with Wall on the floor and minus-5.2 with him off.
But he’s only managed 73 appearances since the start of the 2017-18 campaign and has yet to play at all this season. Here’s hoping he can manage a comeback similar to the next guard on this list.
Here is the entire list of No. 1 overall draft picks:
- LeBron James
- Anthony Davis
- Kyrie Irving
- Blake Griffin
- Dwight Howard
- Yao Ming
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Derrick Rose
- John Wall
- Ben Simmons
- Zion Williamson
- Andrew Bogut
- Kenyon Martin
- Andrew Wiggins
- Deandre Ayton
- Greg Oden
- Andrea Bargnani
- Markelle Fultz
- Kwame Brown
- Anthony Bennett
Do you agree with the list? And more importantly, do you think the former Wildcats were ranked correctly?