1996 — Kobe Bryant over Allen Iverson
It’s a tough break when Steve Nash, Ray Allen, or Allen Iverson — two MVPs and one of the greatest shooters of all time —can’t stake a claim to being the top player in their draft, but no one would argue with this choice. Kobe Bean Bryant was drafted thirteenth by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded straight up for veteran center, Vlade Divac. Oops. Kobe played all 20 years of his career with the Lakers.
He led the league in scoring four times and retired with 33,643 points, third most in NBA history. Bryant made 18 All Star teams, 15 All NBA squads, and 12 All Defense, and he finished top five in MVP voting an incredible 11 times. Of course Kobe also won five NBA championships, and regardless of where you place him among the all time greats, he certainly belongs there, and he’s been an inspiration to an entire generation of young basketball players.