The recent PBA Draft has just inspired me to research and look back at the past PBA Drafts and as I was looking at it, I just saw what could be the best and worst 1st draft picks ever made. Like in NBA there are the likes of Baylor, Magic, Lew Alcindor (Kareem), Big O, Lebron being one of the best number 1 draft picks or the likes of Kwame Brown, Michael Olokwandi or Joe Smith considered one of the worst. In PBA we can also chat down some of the best and the worst 1st over-all draft picks.

5 best picks in the PBA

1. Benjie Paras(1989)

– Fresh from the historic Championship of UP Maroons in the UAAP, Shell chose the highly rated Benjie Paras as its 1st choice in the 1989 draft.

Shell made the terrific choice, because not only did the Tower of Power won the Rookie of the year Award that year, he broke records by also winning the MVP plum, making him the only player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP award at the same time. Truly Paras can be credited as the best number 1 pick in the PBA.

*by the way the 1989 class was one of the most successful class in PBA History players in this batch are Ato Agustin, Nelson Asaytono, Paul Alvarez and many other notable players.


2 time PBA MVP (1989, 1999)

Rookie of the year

Silver Medalist (Asian Games 1990)

10 time All Star

2 time All Star MVP (1994,1999)

25 greatest players

2. Allan Caidic (1987)

– The Triggerman, was a hot commodity and was already gaining popularity back in his collegiate days in UE and in the Philippine  Amateur team so being number 1 in the draft was no surprise at all.

Considered one of the deadliest shooters in the whole ASIA and arguably the best here in the Philippines, Great Taste wasted no time, in picking the 1-time MVP it’s 1st pick and true enough Caidic showed to everyone why he was chosen as the number 1 pick in the 1987 draft. Please remember that Caidic still has the record for most point scored in a game by a Filipino with 79 points in 1991.


PBA MVP (1990)

Rookie of the year

Silver Medalist (1990 Asian Games)

Gold Medalist (1986 Fiba Asia Championship)

All Star MVP (1993)

7-time All Star

25 Greatest Players

3. Danny Ildelfons0 (1998)

The Demolition Man was a notable figure in his amateur and collegiate days (NU) so it was no doubt that he would be the #1 pick for the 1998 draft and San Miguel, was so eager to get him that they have to trade their number 2 pick (Noy Castillo) + cash to Shell to get Danny I (Shell drafted Danny I).

In just 3 years in the PBA, Danny I already won many awards that includes the Rookie of the year award and back-to-back MVP awards (Only Bogs Adornado and Alvin Patrimonio have done the same feat) so it is without any question that Danny I can be considered one of the best picks in the PBA Draft.


2-time PBA MVP (2000 and 2001)

Rookie of the year (1998)

7-time All Star

All Star MVP (2005)

4. Vergel Meneses (1992)

A Superstar heavy bomber and was considered the next-Samboy Lim in his PBL days, Vergel was already making a name for himself as a future PBA star, so Presto quickly chose him as their #1 pick in the 1992 Draft.

Although The Aerial Voyager didn’t won the Rookie of the Year and was beaten by Bong Ravena. Vergel bounced back immediately the following years by winning the Most Improved Player and MVP award and giving Sunkist two titles, and an almost grandslam in 1995. A member of the 25 greatest in the PBA, Vergel is certainly one of the best number 1 picks ever.


PBA MVP (1995)

Most Improved Player (1993)

Bronze Medalist (Asian Games 1998)

11-time All Star

4-time All Star MVP (1995,1998,2000,2003)

25 greatest PBA Players

5. Willie miller (2001)

The “Thriller” didn’t start his pro career in PBA. After a successful PBL and NCAA stint, Miller opted to join the Nueva Ecija Patriots at the now-defunct MBA, but after disappointing seasons in the MBA, Miller joined the PBA with Red Bull making him as its #1 pick.

Miller didn’t flourished quickly with Red Bull because he had to play back-up to starting guard Jimwell Torion, but after 1 year with Red Bull, he quickly became a reliable point guard and an instant superstar because he became the league’s MVP with just 1 season in the league. Miller was always shifted to other teams, but that didn’t stopped him from retaining his superstar status as he quickly transformed his teams to championship-caliber ball clubs. He earned his 2nd MVP at Alaska after leading them to their 1st championship after 5 years.


2-time PBA MVP (2002, 2007)

11-time All Star

PBA All-star co MVP w/ JayJay Helterbrand (2007)

Honorable mentions: Marlou Aquino (1996), Kelly Williams (2006), Dennis Espino (1995)

5 worst picks

1. Alejandro Araneta

The only article that I can find in the internet is a phrase in Alaska’s Wikipedia that says ” The team had the top pick in the draft and grabbed Alex Araneta out of Ateneo. But in later years, Araneta was considered a bust and was out of the league by 1997.”



2. Peter Jao (1990)

1990 draft was considered one of the worst in the History. Only Gido Babilonia and Gerry Esplana( 1990 rookie of the year)  are the players who had decent PBA careers. Now for Peter Jao, I can’t even find an article or an item about him in the internet! Is he related to “Dr. J” Andy Jao?hihihi.



3. Yancy de Ocampo

One of the Top 20 PBL Players of all-time, Yancy was considered as the franchise player of FedEx as he was the first ever pick of Fedex so it was expected that he will be the cornerstone of the franchise. Skilled with a good low-post movement and a reliable outside shot, the 6-9 center didn’t met the expectations of Fedex so he was shifted to Talk n’ Text and now with Brgy. Ginebra.


2007 PBA Mythical 2nd-team

4. Jack tanuan (1988)

The 1988 class was full of talent, but some talents were direct-hire rookie free agents like  Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, Jojo Lastimosa and Ronnie Magsanoc, so the draft was left to only a few players like the late Jack Tanuan and Samboy Lim. Jack Tanuan wasn’t a bust but was actually a contributor to the teams he played for like Purefoods and Swift, but what made me put him in this list is the fact that he was chosen as the 1st pick instead of The Skywalker Samboy Lim.


Won two titles with Purefoods and two titles with Swift

5. Rich Alvarez (2004)

Rich Alvarez a two-time UAAP MVP and a PBA Rookie of the year, had a great start in the PBA. He met expectations during his early years but later on, was side-lined with injuries that prompted his many PBA teams to shift him. He has been shifted 5-times and now plays with Talk n Text in a reserved role. Alvarez had a great potential as a rookie but was overshadowed in the later years by his great batchmates James Yap, Marc Pingris, Sonny Thoss, Ranidel de Ocampo, Gary David and many others (2004 draft class was considered as one of the finest).


Rookie of the year (2004)

1 time member of the All defensive team

Honorable mention: Paolo Mendoza (2000)

Will JV Casio be considered one of the best or one of the worst? Let’s watch out and see!🙂

About Ace!

Technology Transfer and Business Development Officer Office of the Vice Chancellor for R&D, UP Diliman Organizational communication Graduate University of the Philippines Manila President - QCPACE- UMYF Vocalist- Footlong, Rapid Pagongs Member- ALAB Judah and PUMC Worship team

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