The Minnesota Timberwolves will have the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. It will be the first time in the team’s 26-year history that get to choose first among the NBA’s 30 franchises. Prior to Tuesday’s lottery selection, the T-Wolves were one of eight current NBA franchises that had never had the number one overall pick in an NBA Draft. Can you name the other seven teams? (More on that in a minute.)
The Timberwolves had the NBA’s worst record this year at 16-66. Getting the number one overall pick is the highest they have chosen in the draft since 2011 when they selected Derrick Williams from the University of Arizona with the second overall pick.
Since 1947 when the Pittsburgh Ironmen selected Clifton McNeeley from the University of Texas-El Paso with the first pick of the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers have had the most overall number one picks in draft history with six. Four of them have come this century.
Here’s a look at the franchises that have had the most overall number one picks in the history of the NBA Draft. (Note: Teams listed below are the current NBA franchise location.)
5: Houston, Sacramento
4: Milwaukee, New York Knicks, Portland, Washington
3: Atlanta, Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando
2: Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Antonio
1: Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, New Orleans, Toronto
0: Denver, Indiana, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota (have number overall pick in 2015), Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Utah
Of those franchises that have had the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have had the longest wait for another shot at the number one pick. The Celtics had the overall number one pick in 1950 (they chose Chuck Share of Bowling Green University). Next longest wait are the Detroit Pistons, who last had the overall number one pick in 1970.
Having the overall number one pick has been a good omen for a handful of teams. In fact, four teams had the overall number one pick in a draft and then won an NBA title within first five years of that pick. They are:
* The Milwaukee Bucks chose Lew Alcindor with the #1 pick in 1969 and then won the championship in 1971.
* Portland selected Bill Walton with the first pick in the 1974 draft and won the title in 1978.
* The Lakers chose Magic Johnson with the #1 pick in 1979 and went on to win the championship in 1980, 1982. The Lakers took James Worthy with the first pick in 1983 and also won the title in 1985 and 1987.
* San Antonio selected Tim Duncan with the number one overall pick in 1997 and won titles in 1999 and 2003.
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