History's 5 best at the 4th pick

Sam counts down to the draft lottery and looks back at the best to ever play at the 4th pick
MAY 10: Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz goes up for a shot against Dikembe Mutombo #55 of the Denver Nuggets during Game One of the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals played on May 10 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah defeated Denver 100-
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later


Rebuilding through the draft often requires more luck than skill. A look at the history of the No. 4 selection in the NBA draft suggests that. The Bulls finished the season with the fourth poorest record in the NBA. If no places change in the May 14 lottery drawing, the Bulls would select fourth in the draft. Selecting that high would suggest the chance to add a high level player, and it has happened, though not much lately. In the last decade, no player selected No. 4 has played in an NBA All-Star game. Only Kristaps Porzingis has been selected to an All-Star game as a reserve, and he was injured before the game, didn't play and was subsequently traded. Recent No. 4 picks like Jarren Jackson Jr. and Josh Jackson are considered to have All-Star potential, but perhaps years away. There have been many talented players selected with the No. 4 pick, but more who became just good NBA starters rather than stars. Here's a look at the best No. 4 selections in the NBA draft since the merger of the leagues in 1976.


Russell Westbrook, Seattle Supersonics, 2008. He has gone on to become one of the most celebrated and polarizing players in the NBA, an eight-time All-Star and league MVP who has broken historic NBA records while failing to have much impact in the playoffs. His versatility in averaging a triple double the last three seasons is unmatched and he has led the league in scoring and assists twice. He's been an unyielding force with his relentless play and seven times all-NBA.

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers during Game One of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 14, 2019 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.


Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets, 2005. He's been one of the elite point guards in the game for more than a decade who also has failed to make substantial post season impact. He's a nine-time All-Star and all-defensive team player who has led the league in assists four times and steals six times playing for three teams.

Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets takes a three point shot defended by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Three of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 4, 2019 in Houston, Texas.


Dikembe Mutombo, Denver Nuggets, 1991. The Hall of Famer played for six teams, had his jersey retired by two and may be the greatest humanitarian ever to play in the NBA in building a hospital in Africa. He was an eight-time All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year whose colorful finger wagging about blocks became an NBA favorite. He twice led the NBA in rebounding and three times in blocks.

Dikembe Mutumbo #55 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball on April 16, 2008 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.


Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors, 2003. His career ended prematurely after the discovery of a blood clot. But he was an 11-time All-Star who played for two Miami title teams with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade primarily as a supporting player with excellent shooting range while being on the leading edge of modernizing the big man game in the NBA.

Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against Willie Reed #33 of the Brooklyn Nets on January 26, 2016 at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.


Rasheed Wallace, Washington Bullets, 1995. There was talent and controversy with some of the top No. 4 picks. Wallace long proved an ambivalent figure was his anger often matched his talent. He is one of the most penalized players in NBA history with records for ejections and technical fouls while also being a four-time All-Star and a champion with the Detroit Pistons given his unique ability to score inside and outside.

Rasheed Wallace #36 of the New York Knicks grabs a rebound against the Brooklyn Nets on December 11, 2012 at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The No. 4 selection has produced many high level NBA starters like Stephon Marbury, Jamal Mashburn, Glen Rice, Xavier McDaniel, Micheal Ray Richardson, Sam Perkins, Mike Conley, Antawn Jamison, Aaron Gordon and Lamar Odom. In early NBA history, some of the top No. 4 picks included Dave Cowens, Lou Hudson, Dick Barnett, Kenny Sears and Jerry Sloan.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.


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