There have been some incredibly talented players come through the draft system over the past 40 years, but sometimes those players are the shining lights of a dull cast. They say competition breeds success, and the players selected in these drafts have had to compete with the best of the best to make it.
For some there can be no better draft class than those players who came through the system in 1996. The number one pick that year was Allen Iverson who helped redefine what playing point guard meant for a basketball player. He wasn’t alone in the draft that year, and there were some seriously talented stars lighting up the college scene at the same time.
The competition was so fierce that Kobe Bryant wasn’t able to shine brightest and was only the 13th pick, not that it held him back. Five of the top six picks in this year made the All-Star team, with the other being Marcus Camby – the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Then there was Steve Nash who was the 15th pick, yet he was the NBA MVP in 2005 and 2006. A cluster of top players all came from this year’s draft, and it’s hard to argue there has been any better.
The draft class that brought Michael Jordan to the league wasn’t made up of just one star, there were plenty to choose from for NBA teams. In fact, the college scene leading up to the 1984 draft was so competitive that Michael Jordan was only the third pick. Of course, if teams knew how good he was going to be, he would have been number one.
There are some standout stars from this class including number one pick Hakeem Olajuwon and number five pick Charles Barkley. Both went on to have outstanding careers and are arguably in the top 20 players to ever step onto the basketball court. Below the top picks there are still plenty of top talents, including John Stockton, Kevin Willis, and Alvin Robertson.
While you could argue that LeBron James has carried this class all on his own, that would be unfair to the stars who came into the NBA in 2003. LeBron is not out on his own from this class, and he is joined by top NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and David West. The top picks from this draft all have won NBA Championships and are sure to be future Hall of Famers.
Not all are yet retired, and several are still playing at the top of the game, with James reaching the NBA Finals five years in a row. The pool of talent was so deep even second round picks have made their way to the NBA Finals.
These draft classes are undoubtedly the best in the history of the NBA, but only time will tell if they remain so. It’s hard to imagine a world where a better class could come through, but the class of 2009 are fighting for that spot.