Looking back at the notable ninth overall picks in NBA Draft history

On Thursday night, the order for the 2020 NBA Draft was revealed at the league’s first-ever virtual NBA Draft Lottery. For the second year in a row, the Wizards landed at the number nine spot.

Early assessments of the 2020 draft class are that it may be short on elite prospects but deep on quality overall. While the Wizards certainly would have liked to jump into the top-four, they should be in a good position to make a splash at nine. If history is any indication, there’s talent to be had picking out of that spot. Here, we take a look at some of the best players to ever be selected ninth overall.

2019: Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards
Career stats: 13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists

The Wizards don’t have to look back very far to find a successful ninth overall pick. Last season, selecting in the same position as they will later this year, Washington selected Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, who served at the team’s virtual representative at Thursday’s lottery. The rookie turned heads early in training camp with poise and an understanding of the game well beyond that of a normal rookie. Excluding a mid-season injury that sidelined him for about a month, Hachimura was one of the Wizards’ most consistent contributors. A versatile forward that could score around the basket, knock down a mid-range jumper and handle the ball in transition, Hachimura wasted no time making an impact. Hachimura scored 20-plus points 10 times, including a 30-point game against the Clippers on December 1, 2019.

2012: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Career stats: 14.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.6 blocks
Honors and accomplishments: All-NBA, All-Star (x2), All-Rookie

Drummond is likely the greatest rebounder of his generation, averaging nearly 14 boards per game and leading the league in the category four times, including the 2019-20 season. Over the last three seasons, Drummond has averaged 16.0, 15.6 and 15.2 rebounds per game – tops in the NBA each year. The big man has also been consistent as a rim protector, averaging at least 1.6 blocks per game in six of his eight seasons in the league. On the offensive end, Drummond’s scoring numbers have climbed steadily since the start of his career. He averaged just 7.9 points per game as a rookie, operating mostly in a bench role, but has seen his year-by-year scoring average climb nearly every season since, peaking at last season’s 17.7 points per game. After spending the first seven years of his career with the Detroit Pistons, Drummond was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February.

2011: Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
Career stats: 19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.3 steals
Honors and accomplishments: All-NBA, All-Star (x4)

After an historic NCAA Tournament run in 2011, Kemba Walker was selected ninth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, the organization he called home for the first eight years of his career. In that time, he became the face of the franchise and tops the team’s all-time leaderboards in minutes (20,607), points (12,009), field goals (4,164) and win shares (48.5) – and led the Hornets to a pair of playoff appearances. His best statistical season came in 2018-19 when he appeared and started in all 82 regular season games, averaging 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. Walker was given his first-ever All-NBA nod for the season-long performance. Last offseason, Walker was traded to the Boston Celtics. In his one season in Boston, Walker has averaged 20.4 points and 4.8 assists per game, helping the team to one of the best records in the Eastern Conference.

2010: Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
Career stats: 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Honors and accomplishments: All-Star

Like Walker, Gordon Hayward entered the NBA hot off a college career highlighted by March Madness performances. As a rookie, he joined a Jazz team already equipped with veteran talent that wanted to compete in the Western Conference. He played just 16.9 minutes per game, averaging 5.4 points. But as his career progressed and his workload increased, his production did the same. Over the first seven seasons of his career, Hayward improved his scoring average each year, topping out at 21.9 points per game in 2016-17, earning him his first All-Star nod. The following offseason, Hayward signed with the Boston Celtics, but suffered a broken leg in his first game with the team. Two years later, Hayward returned to form in 2019-20, averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

2009: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Career stats: 20.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Honors and accomplishments: All-NBA (x2), All-Star (x4)

Drafted in 2009, DeMar DeRozan’s impact on the Raptors organization was immediate. He was a steady presence in the team’s rotation during his rookie season and doubled his scoring output in his sophomore campaign, jumping from 8.6 points per game to 17.2. In a five-season stretch from 2013-14 to 2017-18, DeRozan was selected as an All-Star four times. Since crossing the 20-points-per-game threshold for the first time in 2013-14, DeRozan has not dipped below it since. He’s become one of the most consistent scoring guards in the league, creatively manufacturing scoring inside the arc in an NBA moving more and more outside of it. DeRozan was traded to the Spurs in 2018, where he’s played the last two seasons, doing a little bit of everything for San Antonio, averaging 21.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

2007: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Career stats: 8.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 blocks
Honors and accomplishments: All-NBA, All-Star (x2), Defensive Player of the Year, All-Defense (x3)

While his career stats don’t necessarily pop, Joakim Noah has been one of the league’s best post defenders since he was drafted by the Bulls in 2007. Known mostly for his endless energy and effort, Noah was at the heart of Chicago’s success in the early 2010s. He played the best basketball of his career from the 2009-10 season to the 2013-14 season, averaging 11.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. The best season of his career came in 2013-14, when he was named Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-NBA, First Team All-Defense and an All-Star. Noah signed with the Knicks as a free agent in 2016, departing Chicago as the team’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,910).

2004: Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers
Career stats: 12.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals
Honors and accomplishments: NBA Champion (x3), Finals MVP, All-Star (x1), All-Defense (x2), All-Rookie

Over the first six seasons of his career, Andre Iguodala was an ironman, starting and playing in all 82 games in all but one season. His 39.9 minutes per game in 2008-09 were the most in the league. From the 2006-07 to 2008-09 seasons, he averaged 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, quickly solidifying himself as one of the league’s brightest do-it-all young stars. After his only All-Star season in 2011-12, Iguodala was traded to the Denver Nuggets, where he spent just one season before another trade, this time landing with the Golden State Warriors. In Golden State, Iguodala’s numbers declined, but his reputation as a contributor to winning soared. He won three titles with the Warriors and was named NBA Finals MVP for his performance during the 2015 championship series in which he averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

2002: Amar’e Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
Career stats: 18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 blocks
Honors and accomplishments: All-NBA (x5), All-Star (x6), Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie

Amar’e Stoudemire burst on to the scene in 2002-03, coming straight out of high school to win Rookie of the Year, averaging 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. A pillar of the Phoenix Suns’ famed “seven seconds or less” offense, Stoudemire was nearly impossible to stop from getting to the rim. He averaged 20.6 points per game in his second season and 26.0 in his third. Over a seven-season stretch from 2004-2011, Stoudemire was named All-NBA five times and an All-Star six times. He ranks third all-time in Suns history in total rebounds and sixth in points. After joining the Knicks in 2010, he earned a spot on his sixth All-Star team, averaging 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

1999: Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
Career stats: 15.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assist, 1.5 steals
Honors and accomplishments: NBA Champion, All-NBA (x2), All-Star (x4), All-Rookie

Shawn Marion played 16 seasons in the NBA, getting his start with the same “seven seconds or less” Suns teams as Stoudemire. Drafted three seasons earlier than Stoudemire, Marion carved out a role as a versatile wing that could guard multiple positions and score from all over. His 10.2-point, 6.5-rebound rookie season earned him All-Rookie honors, but he was just getting started. He developed a 3-point shot as his career progressed, jumping from 18.2% from beyond the arc as a rookie to 39.3% in just his third season. After earning four All-Star nods in five seasons and All-NBA in 2005 and 2006, Marion was traded to the Heat and Raptors in consecutive seasons. In July of 2009, he was again traded, this time to Dallas, where he found a home for the second half of his career. In five seasons with the Mavericks, Marion averaged 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game and won an NBA championship in 2011.

1998: Dirk Nowitzki, Milwaukee Bucks
Career stats: 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Honors and accomplishments: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, Most Valuable Player, All-NBA (x12), All-Star (x14)

Nowitzki is the greatest number-nine pick of all-time. 12 All-NBA teams, 14 All-Star teams, an MVP, a champion and a Finals MVP – Nowitzki is one of the top players in the history of the league. Traded from Milwaukee to Dallas on draft night, he would go on to play his entire 21-year career with the Mavericks. He ranks sixth on the all-time scoring list with 31,560 points and averaged at least 21.6 points per game every year from 2000 to 2012. In 2006-07, Nowitzki was named the league’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game and leading Dallas to the Western Conference’s number-one overall seed. One year prior, he averaged a career-high 26.6 points per game and made his first appearance in the NBA Finals, falling to the Miami Heat. Five years later, Nowitzki got his championship redemption, leading Dallas over Miami for his first and only championship. He averaged 26.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in the six-game series, earning Finals MVP. Nowitzki retired after the 2018-19 as one of the most accomplished players in NBA history.

1997: Tracy McGrady, Toronto Raptors
Career stats: 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals
Honors and accomplishments: Hall of Famer, All-NBA (x7), All-Star (x7), Scoring Leader (x2)

Tracy McGrady is the only player on this list to have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. After seeing limited action in his first two seasons in the league, McGrady saw his points per game average jump from 9.3 to 26.8 in just two seasons, the latter of which was his first after a trade from Toronto to Orlando and earned him the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. It was only up from there as McGrady grew into one of the best scorers in modern NBA history. He averaged 25-plus points per game in five consecutive seasons, including a career-high 32.1 points per game in 2002-03. That season was his first of two-straight leading the league in scoring. From 2000-2007, McGrady was named All-NBA and an All-Star each season.


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