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The #3 Pick Through the Years

June 18, 2013

Jeremy Hyman/Jack Persons |

Bradley Beal Player Profile
For the second year in a row, the Wizards will pick third in the upcoming NBA Draft. While there certainly have been some busts, that third pick has been used on many of the greats to ever play in the NBA.  Last year, the Wiz made Bradley Beal the #3 pick and while it's way too early to judge his career, we can look back at some of the notable names who have been selected third overall.

1950 - Bob Cousy - Tri-Cities Blackhawks

Although he was drafted by the Blackhawks, Cousy would never play a game for the club, but would make his name famous in Boston playing 13 seasons for the Celtics and winning six NBA championships.  The point guard led the NBA in assists for eight consecutive years (1952-1960) and is still remembered as one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. 

1952 - Dick Groat - Fort Wayne Pistons

The name Dick Groat is well known in baseball circles, as Groat was the 1960 NL MVP for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  But, Groat was also the #3 overall pick in 1952 by the Fort Wayne Pistons.  He played just one season for the Pistons before serving time in the military. He would return to baseball (and win an MVP) but not to basketball. 

1954 - Gene Shue - Philadelphia Warriors

After being drafted out of Maryland, Shue would go on to be a five time NBA All-Star for the Detroit Pistons as a player and then led the Baltimore Bullets to the NBA Finals as a coach in 1971.   In his best season (1960-61), Shue averaged 22.6 points and 6.8 assists per game.    

1963 - Nate Thurmond - San Francisco Warriors

After being drafted third overall by the Warriors in the '63 draft, Thurmond would go on to be a seven-time NBA All-Star.  He would average 15.0 points and 15.0 rebounds over his 14 year NBA career. 

1970 - Pete Maravich - Atlanta Hawks

Although his career was cut short due to injuries, "Pistol Pete" Maravich was one of the greatest offensive players of his era. He led the league in scoring in 1976-77 averaging over 31 points per game, was a five time NBA All-Star, and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.  

1979 - Bill Cartwright - New York Knicks

Cartwright made his only All-Star game in his rookie season playing for the Knicks, but would go on to win three consecutive NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls from 1991-1993.

1980 - Kevin McHale - Boston Celtics

McHale was drafted by the Celtics in 1980 after they swapped their #1 pick with Golden State and acquired Robbert Parrish in the deal. McHale would spend his entire 13-year illustrious career with the C's, helping them win three NBA titles.  He was a seven time NBA All-Star and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.  

1981 - Buck Williams - New Jersey Nets

The three-time All-Star and 1982 NBA Rookie of the Year was drafted by the New Jersey Nets, but spent the majority of his career playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged a career double-double, putting up 12.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He currently ranks 15th all time in NBA career rebounds. After his retirement in 1999, the Nets retired his jersey.

1982 - Dominique Wilkins - Utah Jazz

"The Human Highlight Film" was well known for his ridiculous dunking abilities, winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 1985 and 1990, but knew to score in so many other ways. He averaged 30.3 points per game in becoming the NBA scoring champion for the 1985-86 season, and is only one of six players in history to average 25 points per game for 10 straight years -- the others being Jerry West, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, and Allen Iverson.

1984 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls

Michael Jordan needs no introduction. One of the greatest of all time, six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP, five-time NBA MVP, 10-time scoring champion, and perhaps most interestingly, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. He did it all, he had an unheralded drive to win, and made himself the player of his generation. If there’s any reason to want the third pick in the draft, it should be because of who the Bulls picked up in '84.

1993 - Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway - Golden State Warriors

This pick actually turned into a trade for Chris Webber (who ended up only staying a year before going to the Washington Bullets), essentially making Hardaway the 1st pick in the 1993 Draft. He made the All-Star Game four times and was twice named to the All-NBA First Team. In a career with the Magic, Suns, Knicks, and Heat, he averaged 15.2 points and 5.0 assists per game. .

1994 - Grant Hill - Detroit Pistons

Hill announced his retirement only a few weeks ago, ending a long, successful career with the Pistons, Magic, Suns, and Clippers. He received the Rookie of the Year Award, the NBA Sportsmanship award in three different seasons, made seven All-Star teams, all while dealing with a career-long ankle problem. His 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game elucidate just how great of an all-around basketball player Hill truly was.

1995 - Jerry Stackhouse - Philadelphia 76ers

Hampered by injuries for much of his career, Stackhouse only started in 70 or more games a total of 6 seasons, the last time being 2002-03 for the Wizards. He played in the All-Star Game twice and made the All-Rookie First Team in 1996.  While he has averaged 16.9 points in his career, he has not played to the superstar potential that was hyped leading up to his drafting. He spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets.

1996 - Shareef Abdur-Rahim -  Vancouver Grizzlies

Abdur-Rahim was named to the All-Rookie First Team the year after Stackhouse, and has one All-Star pick to his name. He played for the Grizzlies, the Atlanta Hawks, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Sacramento Kings, averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. His career was cut short by knee injuries, and shortly after his retirement he moved to the front office of the Sacramento Kings.

1997 - Chauncey Billups - Boston Celtics

Billups has played for seven different teams over the course of his NBA career, posting 15.4 points per game and 5.5 assists per game. He won a ring as well as the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award with Detroit in 2004, and most recently won the inaugural NBA Teammate of the Year Award. He has lasted in the league so long because he brings a spark to every team he plays for, starting or coming off the bench.  He is now known as "Mr. Big Shot."

1999 - Baron Davis - Charlotte Hornets

Davis was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and played six seasons for the Charlotte/New Orleans franchise, making two All-Star games.  He also was apart of a Golden State Warriors team that made history when as an eight seed they beet the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks, 4-2, in the 2007 NBA Playoffs.  Davis last played for the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 season, but suffered a torn ACL in the first round of the playoffs.

2001 - Pau Gasol - Atlanta Hawks

Although he was drafted by Atlanta, Gasol's rights were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on draft night and he would spend his first seven years in the NBA in Memphis.  There, he was named rookie of the year in 2001 and made the All-Star game in 2006.  He would become a bigger star once he was traded to the Lakers before the 2008-09 season where he would go on to win two NBA championships.  Gasol is currently a member of the Lakers. 

2003 - Carmelo Anthony - Denver Nuggets

In what is still regarded to as one of the great draft classes of all time, Carmelo Anthony was picked third in 2003 behind LeBron James and Darko Milicic.  While nobody would argue James going #1, there was much debate about Milicic being picked ahead of Anthony at the time.  Anthony would go on to play eight seasons in Denver and then played the last two in New York.  He has been to six All-Star games and won the scoring title this past year.  Anthony is currently a member of the Knicks.     

2004 - Ben Gordon - Chicago Bulls

Gordon went #3 overall to the Bulls in the 2004 draft, 20 years after the Bulls selected MJ with the same pick.  While Gordon has not entered the same stratosphere as Jordan, he has had a productive career.  He won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2005 with the Bulls and averaged a career-high 21.4 points per game in 2006-07.  He is currently a member of the Charlotte Bobcats.   

2005 - Deron Williams - Utah Jazz

Williams played his first five and a half seasons in Utah before being dealt to the then New Jersey Nets.  Now a three time All-Star and leader of the Brooklyn Nets, Williams is one of the elite point guards in the league today.

2007 - Al Horford - Atlanta Hawks

A standout at the University of Florida, Horford has turned himself into one of the better big men in the league today.  He averaged a career-high 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season and continues to terrorize opponents in the low post.  He is still a member of the Atlanta Hawks.   

2008 - O.J. Mayo -  Minnesota Timberwolves

Mayo was drafted by the Wolves in the '08 Draft, but his rights were traded on draft day to the Memphis Grizzlies where he would play his first four seasons.  He then signed a one year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, where he averaged 15.4 points and 4.4 assists last season.  Mayo's services will be highly sought over this summer, as he is one of the bigger names to enter free agency. 

 2009 - James Harden - Oklahoma City Thunder

Harden has grown into one of the elite players in the league after being drafted third overall in 2009 by OKC.  He played three seasons there as a role player coming off the bench, but because his talent warranted a large contract, the Thunder were forced to trade Harden to Houston just before last season began.  His game really took off in Houston, as he finished fifth in the league in scoring averaging 25.9 points per game.  He is currently a member of the Houston Rockets. 

2012 - Bradley Beal - Washington Wizards

Wizards fans don't need to think very hard on who the last #3 pick was.  It was just last year when they made Bradley Beal the third pick in the draft and he turned in an outstanding rookie campaign, which led him to be named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Beal set the Wizards rookie record for most three-pointers made (91) and is now heading to Las Vegas in July to take part in USA Basketball Mini-Camp.