Ranking 20 years of No. 1 picks

The order each No. 1 pick of the past 20 years would be taken, if in same draft

Updated: June 22, 2012, 10:52 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Anthony DavisPaul Abell/US PressiwreWhere does Anthony Davis rank among No. 1 overall picks of the past 20 years? Ford says No. 6.

On Thursday, June 28, at around 7 p.m. ET, the New Orleans Hornets will make Kentucky big man Anthony Davis the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

This year Davis is the consensus No. 1 overall pick and many general managers and NBA scouts believe he has the chance to be an NBA superstar with his combination of size, athleticism, defensive prowess and emerging offensive skills.

The comps on the high end include everyone from Tim Duncan to Kevin Garnett. The low end looks like Marcus Camby. In short, there's no question that Davis is not only a worthy No. 1 overall pick, but he will be an elite one. Not every draft, nor every No. 1 pick, is created equal, however.

So here's the criteria for the rankings below: If all of the No. 1 overall picks in the past 20 years had come out in the same year, based on how they were perceived at the time (and not the careers they've gone on to so far), in what order would they be drafted?

I've covered the draft since 1996 and have a good handle on how various No. 1 overall picks were perceived at the time of the draft. I also spent the past week talking to NBA GMs and scouts to get their take on it, especially on several of the older No. 1 picks. Here's what I've come up with:


To read more about where Chad Ford thinks Anthony Davis ranks among the past 20 years of No. 1 picks, become an Insider today.

Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider