NBA Rookies – No.1 Draft Picks for the last 5 seasons

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NBA Rookies – No.1 Draft Picks for the last 5 seasons

National Basketball League (NBA), a premier league for basketball players all around the globe, where every year dreams of 60 players are fulfilled via the NBA Draft. NBA Lottery was concluded on 16th May 2023, for the upcoming lot of players where San Antonio Spurs got the No.1 Draft pick for the upcoming draft.

Every decade, there comes an NBA player who has expectations of being the best to play the game even before he steps on the field, to name few are LeBron James, Micheal Jordan, Zion Williamson etc. and this time its Victor Wembanyama, Frenchman who is a 7ft ball handler who has taken the league by storm even before stepping up on the floor.

Let us look at the No.1 Pick in the past 5 years, their averages, and the accolades they have picked up in their short careers.

Deandre Ayton (Credits: NBAofficial)

2018 – Pheonix Suns – DeAndre Ayton – Center – Grade – A

A Five Star prospect in the NBA Draft, Ayton was expected to be a Top 5 pick, and Pheonix Suns required a big man to compliment Devin Booker on the Sun’s roster as Booker was desperate to find a Robin to his Batman. With the likes of Luka Doncic and Trae Young in the same draft, Ayton was picked up as the No.1 pick by the Suns. Ayton is also the franchise’s first No.1 pick in their history. 

Ayton still plays for the Pheonix Suns and has been the starting Center for the Suns since he arrived in the NBA, with career averages of 16.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 0.8 blocks, Ayton was expected to be a dominant figure on the court like Tim Duncan, however, Ayton has always been a non-dependant player when it comes down to Playoffs time, where he was humbled by Giannis Antetokoumpo in 2021 NBA Finals and the current season, Nuggets routed the Suns 4-2 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Is Zion Williamson playing tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder?
Zion’s Return Post Another Injury can define his career

2019 – New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson: Grade – B+

One of the most hyped players post-LeBron James. He was considered and still is, to be the next face of the NBA due to his insane strength and leaping ability considering his height and weight. He was scrutinised and criticised for his weight and how it will affect him moving ahead. However, silencing his critics, Zion Williamson has been a star since he arrived in the league and has been a 2x All-Star and the part of NBA All-Rookie team in 2019.

However, weight has started taking a toll on his body and in the past 3 seasons, he has managed to play only 114 games out of the possible 240+ games Pelicans has played in the regular season. 

Despite these issues, Zion is averaging 25.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 0.9 steals 

2020 – Minnesota Timberwolves – Anthony Edwards: Grade A

Nicknamed the Ant-Man, Edwards can be considered a surprise when it comes down to his ability to control the game. With big man Karl-Anthony Towns by his side initially, Ant instantly became a show stopper with his high-flying dunks and game-playing abilities in his Rookie Season. 

He made his first NBA All-Star Appearance in 2023 as a reserve and replaced injured Steph Curry in the All-Star game where he scored 12 points coming off the bench. 

Edwards made substantial changes in his playing style at the start of the 2022-23 season after the arrival of 3x Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert and became more of a smart player. With career averages of 21.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 1.4 steals, Edwards can easily be considered the best pick of the last 5 NBA Drafts in terms of impact on the team

Pistons pull away to get season's first win in Cade Cunningham's debut |
Can Cade make improvements to the teamplay?

2021 – Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham: Grade – B+

5-star prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cunningham has been a huge addition to the road to the buildup for the Pistons

Cade Cunningham is known for his basketball IQ, court vision, and decision-making skills. He can create for his teammates and make the right play in crucial moments. Defensively, he has the size and instincts to guard multiple positions and disrupt opponents with his length.

However it is too early to describe his future potential as Detroit has gone into a rebuild mode, however with career averages of 17.8 PPG, 5.6 APG and 5.6 RPG, Cunningham will have to lead this rebuild post his recovery this offseason. 

Banchero scores 17 points in Orlando debut, victory
Paolo All-Star?

2022 – Paolo Banchero – Orlando Magic: Grade – A

Another team, who is currently in rebuild mode is the Orlando Magic and it was the  Magic’s 1st pick post the signing of Shaquille O’Neal back in the 90s. And the selection of Banchero proved to be just right because he completely changed the team’s outlook and delivered on every promise and potential outcome. 

The Rookie of the Year 2022, Banchero averaged 20 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 3.7 APG where he was the only spark in the Magic’s disappointing season where they finished 13th in the Eastern Conference. 

Cover Credits: NBAofficial