Zion Williamson may be set to miss the first two months of his maiden NBA season, but the New Orleans Pelicans rookie looks destined to be a hit.
There was no doubt that Zion would be taken with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft and the Pelicans were fortunate enough to get that selection in the lottery despite only having a six per cent chance.
New Orleans will have to navigate the start of their new, post-Anthony Davis era without the Duke product, who underwent surgery on a knee injury sustained during preseason.
Zion will surely remain a potentially world-beating talent upon his return, but how have the other No.1 picks from this decade fared in the league?
2010: John Wall (Washington Wizards) - Miss
Wall is undoubtedly a hugely talented point guard but he has struggled with injuries and played just 73 regular season games in the past two years. The Wizards have only made the playoffs four times since selecting him and have not gone beyond the second round. He may not return from a torn Achilles until 2021 either.
2011: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Hit
After being named Rookie of the Year in 2012, Irving went from strength to strength and claimed a championship alongside LeBron James four years later. However, he was unsuccessful in a leading role with the Boston Celtics and will hope to put problems with his knee behind him and gain another ring with Kevin Durant at the Brooklyn Nets.
2012: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets) - Hit
Davis was unquestionably the right pick and he led New Orleans back to the playoffs after a three-year absence in 2015, though they fell in the first round to eventual champions the Golden State Warriors. He only managed to guide them into the postseason once more, as part of a formidable front court with DeMarcus Cousins in 2017-18, but links to the Los Angeles Lakers disrupted his final campaign with the Pelicans.
2013: Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Miss
The first Canadian to go first overall in the NBA Draft did not have the career that was projected. He averaged just 4.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 12.8 minutes in his debut campaign and was quickly moved on by the Cavs. After stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors and Nets he dropped out of the league, with the highlight of his career being a EuroLeague title at Fenerbahce in 2017.
2014: Andrew Wiggins (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Miss
The Cavs sacrificed Wiggins and Bennett in order to get Kevin Love from the Timberwolves, who formed part of their championship-winning 'big three' alongside James and Irving. The Canadian signed a mammoth five-year contract worth almost $150million after averaging 23.6 points in the 2016-17 season, but he has failed to repeat those scoring exploits and looks destined not to live up to expectations.
Almost That Time pic.twitter.com/jIW404uHXa— andrew wiggins (@22wiggins) October 2, 2019
2015: Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) - Hit
Towns won Rookie of the Year in 2016 and has proved a much more useful piece for Minnesota, who are in possession of one of the NBA's so-called 'unicorns'. Big things are expected of the 23-year-old center this season after the two-time All-Star expressed excitement at being able to "use all my talent" under new head coach Ryan Saunders.
2016: Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) - Hit
Having missed the 2016-17 season through injury, Simmons was the runaway Rookie of the Year in the following campaign after leading the Sixers to a 52-30 season and the Eastern Conference semifinals - ending the barren years in which Philadelphia's mantra was 'Trust the Process'. He showed a lack of progression in his second year and needs to add a decent jump shot to his game, but were the towering guard to become available there would be plenty of interest.
2017: Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers) - Miss
Fultz was selected by Philadelphia because of the threat he offered on the perimeter, but in one of the most bizarre stories in recent NBA history he appeared to completely forget how to shoot. He played just 33 games across two seasons before being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, and the Sixers cut their losses and dealt him to the Orlando Magic in February.
In case you were wondering what Markelle's been up to... pic.twitter.com/3RE39oLN51— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) September 25, 2019
2018: DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns) - TBC
The Suns appear to have secured a hit with their maiden first overall pick in Ayton, the center having become just the third rookie this decade to average a double-double. He managed to impress on a 19-win team but needs more time before his worth can be properly judged.
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