Every team that gets the no.1 pick in the draft expects to get a foundational piece for a title contender. Getting two #1s on the same team is practically a lock for a Finals appearance. Three and more? You’d probably start planning a championship parade on day 1 of the season. But, history teaches us otherwise. Injuries often cause a situation like this, or the player simply not being worthy of a high selection, with a few exceptions of such extreme level of talent sharing a locker room. Here’s the list of teams with most #1 picks on the same roster, for whatever reason it may be.
1959-60 Minneapolis Lakers – 5 First Overall Picks
The 1959-60 Minneapolis Lakers take the crown as the team that had most first picks on the same roster with five. Elgin Baylor and Hot Rod Hundley are the two that were drafted by the Lakers in ’58 and ’59. while Ray Felix, Chuck Share, and Frank Selvy joined the team later in their career. The group played only one season together, losing to St. Louis Hawks in a Western Division Finals.
1963-65 New York Knicks – 3 First Overall Picks
The New York Knicks of the 60s trio consisted of Bob Boozer, Art Heyman, and Bill McGill. The latter was acquired via trade with the Bullets, playing a total of 68 games in the Mecca, without a single playoff performance on his resume.
1962-64 Chicago Zephyrs/Baltimore Bullets – 3 First Overall Picks
Before getting traded to the Knicks, McGill was a part of another trio of players who were picked first. Other than Bill, who was selected by the Chicago Zephyrs in ’62, Walt Bellamy was another top pick, as the Chicago Packers selected him in ’61. Sihugo “Si” Green rounded the group, as a former first pick by the Rochester Royals. Despite Bellamy’s stellar performances, the team didn’t do any significant damage in the league,
1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks – 3 First Overall Picks
The combo of Big O and Kareem, along with Bob Boozer, is your third collection of first-round picks on the same NBA roster. The trio brought the Bucks their sole championship, with Kareem taking his first regular-season MVP award in only his second season in the league. This team is up there in terms of the overall level of talent but didn’t stay together long enough to repeat their success.
1984-86 Houston Rockets – 3 First Overall Picks
After selecting Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon in consecutive last seasons of the non-lottery draft format, the Houston Rockets added veteran John Lucas to their roster. The addition of Lucas formed another trio of players that were selected first on their draft nights. Lucas’s veteran presence helped the young centers reach their first NBA finals in 1986, but Larry Bird’s Celtics were too much to handle.
1986-89 Los Angeles Lakers – 4 First Overall Picks
Easily the most accomplished and well-known group on this list, the Showtime Lakers had four first overall picks on their roster. The Lakers selected Magic Johnson and James Worthy, Kareem Abdul Jabbar started his career with the Bucks, and Mychal Thompson got drafted to the Trail Blazers. The four made the finals all three years they were together, winning two of them, becoming the most successful first-picks-collection to ever play in the league.
1997-98 and 2003-04 Philadelphia 76ers – 3 First Overall Picks, 4 Players
Allen Iverson was never given a true second star during his time with the 76ers, although they housed a fair share of former first picks of the drafts. Sixers had two instances of having three players drafted first overall on the same roster, with the first being during the 1997-98 season, when Joe Smith, Derrick Coleman, and AI all wore the Sixers jersey. The second time it happened was in 2003-04 season, with Glenn Robinson replacing Joe Smith as a third part of the first-picked group. Despite it all, both teams didn’t even make the playoffs.
2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers – 3 First Overall Picks
After Durant joined the Warriors, the Cavaliers were in need of a big-man. Former number one pick Andrew Bogut eventually joined LeBron and Kyrie, but he got injured in the first minute of his first game with the Cavs, and never again returned to the lineup, capping his Cavs career at a 1-minute mark.
2017-19 Minnesota Timberwolves – 3 First Overall Picks
Following a short stint with the Cavs, former MVP Derrick Rose was traded to the Jazz, before eventually getting waved by the team from Salt Lake City. He then got picked up by the Timberwolves, joining young Wolves core of Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. The three didn’t make any significant playoff pushes, with the most memorable moment being Rose dropping his career-high 50 points in his first start of the 2019 season.
2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers – 3 First Overall Picks
After Lebron recruited Anthony Davis to the Lakers, and after the team signed Dwight Howard as a free agent, another iteration of multiple #1 picks on the same team has been formed. That’s also the most recent one, as we are still waiting to see how successful it will be.