Highest Career PPG Among 1st Overall Picks In NBA History: Elgin Baylor First, LeBron James Second

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The NBA Draft is a time of hope and optimism for NBA teams, especially those at the bottom of their respective conferences. Because the best college player (and former high school player) is often the first pick in the draft.

If you look at all the selections in NBA history, some players have had the most success. By ranking all the best players in history based on their career average PPG, we find the top 10 #1 picks in history based on their scoring ability.


Hakim Olajuwon – 21.8 PPG

Hakeem The Dream Olajuwon is one of the best big men in history, and he misses the list despite being one of the most talented #1 players in history thanks to his scoring and defensive skills. This two-time NBA champion is also a Hall of Famer and one of the best in the world.

David Thompson – 22.1 PPG

David Thompson is a scorer averaging 27.2 PPG during the 1978 season with the Denver Nuggets. Thompson was a dominant shooter, shooting over 50% from the field in his career, and fell just short of becoming a top 10 player.

10. Towns of Carl-Anthony – 22.8 PPG

(via Sports Illustrated)

Towns is a unique talent because of what he brings to both ends of the field. Towns was named Rookie of the Year in 2016 and has since been a two-time All-Star with the team. Towns averages 22.8 PPG and gets his points mostly from the game, but also from outside.

Towns is already a great player, but he can make another leap to superstardom. He is only 25 years old, and with the right team, we could be looking at a future MVP candidate. So far, he’s on the list of the ten greatest No. 1 players in history.

9. Kyrie Irving – 22.8 PPG

(via Yahoo! Sports).

Kyrie Irving is the best baseball player in NBA history. No player handles the ball as well as Kyrie, and he is among the best offensive players in history. Irving became Rookie of the Year in 2012 and has since risen to superstar among point guards.

Kyrie’s 22.6 career PPG average ranks 28th all-time, and his clutch scoring was the reason the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title in 2016. Kyrie is one of the best scorers at his position and is a top 10 scorer.

8. Shaquille O’Neal – 23.7 PPG

credit : Getty Images

The great Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant NBA superstar of the modern era. The 6-foot-4 hunk weighed 325 pounds and was no match for one or two defenders in top form. Shaq won Rookie of the Year in 1993, and the rest is history.

O’Neal finished his career with 4 NBA titles and 3 final MVPs, plus a career average that ranks 22nd all-time. O’Neal was a dominant force at his peak, and he finished his career with 15 All-Star selections during his Hall of Fame career.

7. Anthony Davis – 23.9 PPG

(on drafts)

It’s amazing how good Anthony Davis has been since his rookie season. Davis went from averaging 13.5 PPG in his first season as a 19-year-old to more than 20 PPG in eight consecutive seasons. Davis already has an NBA championship and eight All-Star appearances behind him, making him a first baseman in the making.

Davis combines inside and outside play and uses his length and skills to his advantage. Few, if any, players are 6 feet tall and can play good goaltending, and Davis is truly one of the best in that regard.

6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 24.6 PPG

photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NVAE via Getty Images

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not yet counted out and many of the older generation consider him the greatest player. Kareem has averaged 24.6 PPG in his career, which is 15th all-time, and his SkyHook has been a major weapon.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a singer until he was 40. He was an unstoppable offensive player as a senior, no player in history could keep up or block his double digits. Kareem is perhaps the most experienced first round pick, as he has 6 NBA titles and 6 MVPs in his illustrious career.

5. Zion Williamson – 25.0 PPG

(via Sports Illustrated)

Zion Williamson is already on the list of the best scorers in NBA history. As a 19-year-old, Williamson averaged 22 PPG and 26.4 PPG in his only second season.

Zion is 6’7 but weighs 284 pounds, which means he can’t be stopped if he wants to score in the paint. Zion is also exploding above the ring in his size, and we could be seeing the new face of the NBA soon.

4. Oscar Robertson – 25.7 PPG

Oscar Robertson, the original Triple King, is averaging 25.7 PPG in his career, which is 10th in history. Robertson gets a lot of credit for his rebounding and play, as he averaged 7.5 RPG and 9.5 PPG in his point guard career, but his scoring ability was probably his best attribute.

Robertson averaged over 30 PPG in four consecutive seasons from 1964-1967. Robertson had the length of a 6’5 and an incredible ability to attack and finish at the rim. He was absolutely relentless, and his accolades as Rookie of the Year in 1961 and MVP in 1964 are among his best individual achievements.

3. Allen Iverson – 26.7 PPG

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The answer, Allen Iverson, is the best player who ever lived. At 6’10 and a featherweight, Iverson dominates the game as the smallest player on the field. Iverson entered the NBA in 1996 at the age of 21 with a 23.5 PPG average.

Averaging 26.7 points per game, Iverson ranks 7th all-time. Very few players have had the impact of Iverson through what he did on and off the field, and he retired as an 11-time All-Star and 2001 MVP with 4 titles.

2. LeBron James – 27.0 PPG

Not surprisingly, the King, LeBron James, is on that list. James is considered the best No. 1 in NBA history because of his all-around skills and talent, and there is little comparison between his skills and his talent.

James entered the NBA in 2003 at the age of 19 and managed to post averages of 20.9 PPG and 5.9 PPG. James’ 18 seasons at the helm have resulted in a career average of 27.0 PPG, which ranks sixth.

1. Elgin Baylor – 27.4 PPG

Elgin Baylor was a walking bucket from the moment he entered the league to the moment he left it. Baylor’s career average is 27.4 PPG, with his best seasons being 1961 with a 34.8 PPG average and 1962 with a 38.0 PPG average.

Elgin Baylor finished his career as an 11-time All-Star, 10-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA and was the 1959 Rookie of the Year. Baylor is truly one of the greatest in history and the first choice.

Credit for an idea: a ballpoint pen


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