History's 5 best at the 5th pick

Sam counts down to the draft lottery and looks back at the best to ever play at the 5th pick
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later


According to the odds, the Bulls even with the fourth poorest record have a small chance of getting the No. 5 selection in the NBA draft lottery. The lowest odds are for pick No. 8 and then for pick No. 5. Though in league history, teams added a lot of future Hall of Famers to their team with the No. 5 pick in the draft. In fact, one would have to go beyond the five best selections in the modern era since 1976 to include all the players in the Basketball Hall of Fame selected with the No. 5 pick. Plus there were some greats in the early years of the NBA at No. 5, like Walt Frazier, Frank Ramsey, Larry Foust, Johnny Green, Jeff Mullins, Guy Rodgers, Bobby Jones and Darryl Dawkins. It could make for some interesting debate to rate the top five all-time No. 5 draft picks. Here's one version.


Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves, 1995. At the time, teams were hesitant about selecting a player directly from high school after Garnett played his senior year in Chicago. But the gangly seven footer went on to have one of the top careers in league history as a 15-time All-Star, league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and 12-time all-defense player, four times league leading rebounder and community service winner with a championship late in his career when he resurrected the Boston Celtics.

Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics looks on in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts


Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, 2003. The Bulls were certain he was going to be available at No. 7. And then the lightly regarded Marquette player from the Chicago area had a big tournament and was a last minute addition for Miami. Wade, who retired this season, went on to be a league scoring leader and 13-time All-Star, three times all-defense and three times an NBA champion, including carrying a Miami team with Shaquille O'Neal in support and then among the most famous championships with LeBron James.

Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets on April 10, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.


Charles Barkley, Philadelphia 76ers, 1984. This is a difficult one in a faceoff with Scottie Pippen, who has six titles to none for Barkley. But Barkley was an 11-time All-Star and all-NBA player as well as a league MVP and led the league in rebounding. Like Pippen, he was on two gold medal winning Olympic teams and probably should have been on a third in 1984, but coach Bobby Knight didn't like his back talk. He averaged more than 22 points and 11 rebounds in his career.

Charles Barkley #34 of the Phoenix Suns goes for a dunk during the 1996 NBA game against the Boston Celtics at America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.


Scottie Pippen, Seattle Supersonics, 1987. Pippen, of course, became the draft jewel for Jerry Krause in a draft day trade with Seattle for Olden Polynice. Pippen was an All-Star seven times and all-defense 11 times and a league steals leader, though primarily known as the No. 2 player for the Bulls behind Michael Jordan. Many regard Pippen as among the best perimeter individual defenders in the game's history. He was not a prolific scorer with a career average of about 16 points, but he was one of the premier facilitator forwards in the game.

Scottie Pippen #33 of the Chicago Bulls drives against the Vancouver Grizzlies on January 24, 1996 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.


Ray Allen, Minnesota Timberwolves, 1996. He was a draft day trade for Stephon Marbury and went on to a Hall of Fame career as a champion in Miami and Boston, converting with the Heat what is considered one of the greatest clutch shots in NBA history in 2013. He was a 10-time All-Star and one of the greatest shooters in the game's history. He averaged more than 20 points for nine consecutive seasons and shot 90 percent on free throws and 40 percent on threes. He also was a winner of the citizenship and sportsmanship awards.

Ray Allen #34 of the Miami Heat shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 28, 2013 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.

And that doesn't include Hall of Fame No. 5 draft picks like Mitch Richmond and Sidney Moncrief and future Hall of Famer Vince Carter. Plus, two of the best young point guards in the game, Trae Young and De'Aaron Fox, were taken with the No. 5 picks. Other No. 5 selections have included DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, Steve Smith, Kendall Gill, Walter Davis, Jason Richardson, Juwan Howard and Steve Smith.

Got a question for Sam?

Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

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.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter