Where Detroit Ranks Among Cities With Most No. 1 Overall Picks

Where Detroit Ranks Among Cities With Most No. 1 Overall Picks
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The first overall pick in any pro sports draft is a highly prized possession. Yet it can also serve as a reflection of how effectively an organization is managed. For locals in those markets, such as those using Michigan sports betting apps, as well as the people running those teams, there is a lot at stake.

The individual selected with this coveted pick can transform a franchise and even breathe new sporting life into an entire city. In recent decades, this has been exemplified by LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sidney Crosby with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The likelihood of a team striking the jackpot that big, even with a No. 1 overall pick, is scarce – but it is certainly not impossible. The more chances a franchise gets, the potential for success increases.

Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate & present in MI. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help. Visit BetMGM.com for Terms & Conditions. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.

Houston, Cleveland Tied For Most No. 1 Picks

Since 2000, Houston and Cleveland are tied for first as the cities that have drafted first overall the most times in the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL drafts combined. Teams representing those cities have had the first selection on seven different occasions.

So BetMichigan, your source for the best Michigan sports betting promos, took stock of where each city stands after the 2023 MLB Draft. 

We used the websites for MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL to gather the city that owned the No. 1 overall draft pick from the 2000 drafts until the most recent 2023 drafts. Out of the 96 No.1 overall draft picks in those four sports, we found the cities that have had the most.

Here are the results.

Markets With Most No. 1 Overall Draft Picks

Rank City No. 1 Overall Picks % of No. 1 Picks
T1. Cleveland 7 7.3%
T1. Houston 7 7.3%
3. Pittsburgh 6 6.3%
T4. Tampa Bay 5 5.2%
T4. Washington D.C. 5 5.2%
T6. Detroit 4 4.2%
T6. Minneapolis-St. Paul 4 4.2%
T6. Phoenix 4 4.2%

Breakdown of No. 1 Picks By City

Cleveland – Courtney Brown (Browns, 2000); LeBron James (Cavaliers, 2003); Kyrie Irving (Cavs, 2011); Anthony Bennett (Cavs, 2013); Andrew Wiggins (Cavs, 2014); Myles Garrett (Browns, 2017); Baker Mayfield (Browns, 2018).

Houston – David Carr (Texans, 2002); Yao Ming (Rockets, 2002); Mario Williams (Texans, 2006); Carlos Correa (Astros, 2012); Mark Appel (Astros, 2013); Jadeveon Clowney (Texans, 2014); Brady Aiken (Astros, 2014).

Pittsburgh – Bryan Bullington (Pirates, 2002); Marc-Andre Fleury (Penguins, 2003); Sidney Crosby (Pens, 2005); Gerrit Cole (Pirates, 2011); Henry Davis (Pirates, 2021); Paul Skenes (Pirates, 2023).

Tampa Bay – Delmon Young (Devil Rays, 2003); David Price (Devil Rays, 2007); Tim Beckham (Rays, 2008); Steven Stamkos (Lightning, 2008); Jameis Winston (Buccaneers, 2015).

Washington D.C. – Kwame Brown (Wizards, 2001); Alex Ovechkin (Capitals, 2004); Stephen Strasburg (Nationals, 2009); Bryce Harper (Nats, 2010); John Wall (Wizards, 2010).

Detroit – Matthew Stafford (Lions, 2009); Casey Mize (Tigers, 2018); Spencer Torkelson (Tigers, 2020); Cade Cunningham (Pistons, 2021).

Minneapolis/St. Paul – Joe Mauer (Twins, 2001); Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves, 2015); Royce Lewis (Twins, 2017); Anthony Edwards (T-Wolves, 2020).

Phoenix – Justin Upton (Diamondbacks, 2005); Dansby Swanson (D-Backs, 2015); Deandre Ayton (Suns, 2018); Kyler Murray (Cardinals, 2019).

Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.

How Detroit Has Fared, Where It Ranks

Since 2000, the cities of Cleveland and Houston share the same number of first-overall selections with seven, each compiling 7.3% of the 96 first picks taken.

Detroit is ranked sixth on this list, which is tied with Phoenix and Minneapolis. All three cities have selected their respective first overall pick four times over the last 23 years, or 4.2% each. It might surprise some in the Motor City that the Detroit Lions – who have +155 odds at FanDuel Michigan Sportsbook to win the NFC North in 2023 – have only had one No. 1 pick in that span, considering that they have only made the playoffs three times since 2000.

To break things down by sport, the Cleveland Cavaliers have selected the most NBA first overall picks with four. That includes James (2003), Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014).

The Pittsburgh Pirates have selected the most MLB first-overall picks, also with four. There are Bryan Bullington (2002), Gerrit Cole (2011), Henry Davis (2021) and, most recently, Paul Skenes in this year’s draft.

Houston and Cleveland share the most first-overall NFL picks since 2000 with three apiece. The Texans selected David Carr (2002), Mario Williams (2006) and Jadeveon Clowney (2014). The Browns picked Courtney Brown (2000), Myles Garrett (2017) and Baker Mayfield (2018).

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders, who are not included in this list, have the most top overall picks since 2000 with two apiece. The Penguins are a perfect example of how a franchise can fare when it nails those No. 1 overall picks – Crosby (2005 No. 1 overall) and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (2003) were franchise cornerstones as Pittsburgh won three Stanley Cups and made the playoffs 16 years in a row from 2007 to 2022.

Keep it right here at BetMichigan.com for reviews of Michigan betting sites and the latest news.



Felix Veletanga is an experienced reporter who has covered local news, politics, and sports in Northern New Jersey, and now lends his expertise to the Michigan sports betting market. He previously covered the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s 2022 NCAA Cinderella run for HudPost. Felix specializes in combat fighting and soccer betting analysis with a focus on the Premier League.

Cited by leading media organizations, such as: