Five NBA players who were picked first by the worst team in the league

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The NBA Draft lottery last Tuesday gave the Philadelphia 76ers a fresh chance to revitalise their franchise as the Eastern Conference outfit secured the first overall pick for the event on June 23.

Head coach Brett Brown's men had a record of 10-72 last season and that is the third-worst regular season finish in NBA history. Worse still, Philadelphia own one of the other two worst records as well.

It's been a difficult period for the organisation, but this draft and a new win-focused general manager in Bryan Colangelo offers real hope that they can turn their fortunes around.

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Of course, with the weighted lottery system, it's not always the worst team that secures the top pick. In fact, only five times since the system was adapted back in 1985 have the worst sides record-wise attained the top overall draft pick.

With Philadelphia set to make that six next month, here's a look at how the previous five top picks fared in the wonderful world of the NBA.

Danny Manning - Los Angeles Clippers (1988)

The 6'10" power forward had a stellar college career that led to plenty of buzz around the NBA in the summer of 1988. Manning left KU as its all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He was also the all-time leading scorer in Big Eight Conference history with 2,951 career points. However, securing the 1988 NCAA title as a senior really put him on the map.

The Clippers had just posted a record of 17-65 and hadn't been to the playoffs since 1976. Manning only managed 26 games in his rookie season after a torn anterior cruciate ligament required him to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, but, the Clippers would tally more wins in the next four seasons with him on the floor.

Eventually, the Clippers made a return to the playoffs at the end of the 1991-92 season, suffering a first round exit in five games. The following season he put up a career-high 22.8 points a game and earned All-Star honours. They would exit the playoffs in the first round again and would only feature in the postseason once more before finally winning a series in 2006.

Of course, Manning was long gone by then. He departed in 1994 and became a role player for various franchises because of his knee issues. He ended up with two All-Star appearances as well as winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1998 with the Phoenix Suns. Did he change the face of the Clippers? It's safe to say he did not.

Derrick Coleman - New Jersey Nets (1990)

Alabama-native Derrick Coleman was a double-double machine who could man the four or five spot. After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1991, it seemed like he might go on to be considerably more successful than Manning, however, he had an otherwise unremarkable career.

Although Coleman had a 15-year NBA tenure, he only spent the first five years with the team that drafted him, the New Jersey Nets, now known as the Brooklyn Nets. He drove them to the playoffs in the three campaigns that followed his rookie season, but the Nets would lose in the first round on each occasion.

He earned All-Star honours for the one and only time in 1994, but his career came to a controversial end a decade later when he was released from the Detroit Pistons following the infamous Pistons-Pacers brawl.

Coleman is one of only three players in NBA history to record at least 20 points, 10 boards, five assists, five steals, and five blocks in a game, alongside Hakeem Olajuwon and Draymond Green, but in terms of rings or dragging a franchise to the summit, Coleman failed to make a lasting impact on the game.

LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers (2003)

What hasn't LeBron done? As a four-time MVP, two-time NBA champion (and only champion on this list), two-time Finals MVP, 2004 Rookie of the Year and 2008 NBA scoring champion, the man from Akron, Ohio has pretty much done it all.

However, he is yet to bring a championship to the Cavaliers. That is consuming LeBron at present and it is driving him to address that very matter right now. The Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference Finals and hold a 2-1 lead over the Toronto Raptors, but James needs to get to the Finals again and banish the demons of last year, where the Golden State Warriors punished an injury-ravaged Cavs.

King James spent the first seven years of his career with his hometown franchise and he drove them to three Conference Semi-Finals, a Conference Finals and an NBA Finals. But, alas, no rings.

He had to take a four-year sabbatical to the Miami Heat - where they made the Finals ever year - to grab his two precious rings.

He returned home in 2015 determined to put a championship banner in the Quicken Loans Arena. However, their fortunes while he was gone were telling. In the four years that he left, the Cavs failed to make the playoffs and they only managed to put together 97 wins. In the last two seasons James has been home, they've won 110 games.

As the all-time leading points scorer for the franchise, there's no question LeBron has had the most profound effect on the organisation that drafted him. Can he top it off with a championship?

Dwight Howard - Orlando Magic (2004)

The very year after LeBron arrived on the scene, Dwight Howard arrived in Orlando and similar shockwaves were sent. In an excellent first season, he became the youngest player in NBA history to average a double-double in the regular season. He also became the youngest player in history to average at least 10 rebounds in a season and youngest player ever to record at least 20 rebounds in a game.

The eight-time All-Star filled the pivot spot that had been diminished since Shaquille O'Neal departed for the L.A. Lakers in 1996. It only took Howard three seasons to lead the Magic into the playoffs and a two more before they made it all the way to the Finals.

They would lose to the Lakers on that occasion 4-1, but Howard picked up his first of three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards in the process. Superman would head to the Lakers in 2012 for a year before settling in Houston for three seasons.

The 30-year-old has struggled to recapture his early career form in recent times, and is likely to opt-out of his current Rockets deal and enter free agency in the summer. However, there is no denying as a raw talent he dragged Orlando back to prominence. In fact, he's averaged a double-double in all 12 years of his career.

Karl-Anthony Towns - Minnesota Timberwolves (2015)

Of course, KAT has only just finished his rookie campaign, but the early signs as more than promising. Towns was a formidable college player for Kentucky during the 2014-15 campaign and he managed to record two quadruple-doubles during his stint with the Wildcats.

He played and started all 82 games for the Timberwolves in his debut season, averaging a monster 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and was subsequently named the unanimous Rookie of the Year. Towns earned Western Conference Rookie of the Month honours in each of the season's six months and he changed the Timberwolves from a team propping up the Western Conference with 16 wins to a 29-53 side this term.

He joined O'Neal, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron and Chris Webber as the only players to have at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in a game at the age of 19 or 20 after an awe-inspiring performance in an 117-112 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

It's early days for Towns and the Timberwolves, but rubbing shoulders with LeBron this early in his career isn't a bad thing for him or Minnesota.

NBA Draft
Eastern Conference
Dwight Howard
Houston Rockets
Southwest Division
Western Conference
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Philadelphia Sixers
Atlantic Division

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