Top Five: No. 3 Picks in NBA History

May 23, 2013

Michael Jordan averaged 20 points a game as a 39-year-old with the Wizards.

For the second-straight year, the Wizards own the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft. In 2012, Washington selected Bradley Beal, who finished third in rookie of the year voting and was a near-unanimous choice for the All-Rookie first team. The 19-year-old’s career has gotten off to a nice start, but he has a long way to go to crack this list of the best No. 3 picks in NBA history. Here’s our top five.

5. Kevin McHale

Drafted by the Celtics (1980)

College: Minnesota

Highlights: Three-time NBA champ, seven-time All-Star, Hall of Famer

Career averages: 17.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

Recap: Other than Hakeem Olajuwon, no player in NBA history had a larger repertoire of low-post moves. The 6-foot-10 forward was best known for his fakes and up-and-unders, but he could do it all on the low block. On the loaded Celtics teams of the mid-1980s, he was used off the bench, winning two sixth man of the year awards.

4. Pete Maravich

Drafted by the Hawks (1970)

College: LSU

Highlights: Five-time All-Star, one-time scoring champ, Hall of Famer

Career averages: 24.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists

Recap: Pistol Pete’s ball handling and creativity on offense made him a basketball pioneer. He averaged more than 20 points a game in eight different seasons and was voted as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996, but he’s better known for his accomplishments in college. He’s the all-time NCAA scoring leader, averaging 44.2 points a game in four years at LSU.

3. Dominique Wilkins

Drafted by the Jazz (1982)

College: Georgia

Highlights: Nine-time All-Star, one-time scoring champ, Hall of Famer

Career averages: 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Recap: The two-time slam dunk contest winner earned the nickname “the human highlight film” for his high-flying dunks. Throughout his career, the longtime Hawks forward was one of the best scorers in the league. For 10 straight seasons, he averaged more than 25 points a game. Wilkins made the playoffs 10 times in his career, but he never even made it to the conference finals.

2. Bob Cousy

Drafted by the Blackhawks (1950)

College: Holy Cross

Highlights: Six-time NBA champ, NBA MVP (1957), 13-time All-Star, Hall of Famer

Career averages: 18.4 points, 7.5 assists

Recap: The Hall of Fame point guard was known for his flashy passes and dribbling and was a cornerstone on one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. He was selected to 12 All-NBA first or second teams and won six NBA titles with the Celtics in the 1950s and ’60s. Nicknamed “Houdini of the Hardwood,” Cousy led the NBA in assists eight straight seasons.

1. Michael Jordan

Drafted by the Bulls (1984)

College: North Carolina

Highlights: Six-time NBA champ, five-time NBA MVP, six-time NBA Finals MVP, 14-time All-Star, 10-time scoring champ, Hall of Famer

Career averages: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists

Recap: The easy choice as the best No. 3 pick of all time. The six-time NBA champion with the Bulls pretty much did everything at a high level. On top of his scoring titles and MVPs, he was a nine-time All-Defensive first team selection and won two slam dunk contests. Even as a 39-year-old with the Wizards, Jordan averaged 20 points in 37 minutes a game.

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