The Best and Worst Draft Classes

Tonight is the NBA Draft. Many of the experts are saying that this is a top heavy draft with two franchise changers at the top of the draft and a significant drop off after that. What will this draft class end up looking like? Few things affect the NBA more than the NBA Draft. Landing the right draft pick can dramatically alter the fortunes of a franchise. In any given draft some teams will nail it and other will miss golden opportunities to improve their teams. As a Jazz fan it still hurts knowing that we could have taken Tony Parker instead of Raul Lopez. I can’t imagine how the T-Wolves feel by passing on Steph Curry twice for two other point guards. Ouch! Still some will find that 2nd round hidden gem like Draymond Green or Paul Millsap. One thing seems pretty constant, teams’ fortunes will change tonight. Since 1980 the typical draft looks this way:

  • 6 players drafted will make at least one All-Star Team
  • 18 players drafted will play in the league at least 10 seasons
    • 14 1st Rounders
    • 4 2nd Rounders
  • 13 players drafted will play either a single season or never play a single minute in the league.

Here are the worst and best draft classes since 1980.

The Worst Draft Classes:

Anthony Bennett1. 2013-Giannis Antetokuonmpo, Rudy Gobert, CJ McCollum, and Victor Oladipo appear to being the highest impact players from this class which has produced 0 All-Star appearances so far. The Rookie of the Year was Michael Carter-Williams who was immediately traded and now reduced in his role. Anthony Bennett was taken #1 overall and is no longer on an NBA roster.

Jamal Crawford #11 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a game against the Golden State Warriors on January 30, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

2. 2000-When Jamal Crawford and Michael Redd are the two most accomplished players in the class, you are in trouble. Only 5 players in this draft even averaged 30 MPG. The 3 All-Stars out of this class, Michael Redd, Kenyon Martin, and Jamaal McGloire, were all one-time All-Stars. In other words, not a single multiple-All-Star player came out of this weak class.

3. 1980-Kevin McHale, Kiki Vandeweghe, and Darrell Griffith are the biggest stars in the class. Only 8 players in the first round and 3 in the second round played at least 10 seasons in the league, the lowest total in any class in the last 35 years.

4. 2002-Yao Ming, Carlos Boozer, and Amare Stoudemire are the best players in this class. All had short peaks and injuries derailed the top guys. This class had only 4 All-Stars and just 9 first rounders played 10 years in the league. 32 players in this draft played less than 5 seasons.

5. 1993-Chris Webber, Anfernee Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Allan Houston, and Sam Cassell were the stars from this class. Webber is a borderline Hall of Famer and a 5-time All-Star. Hardaway lost a potentially brilliant career to injuries. The others were solid players, but not stars. The rest of this class struggled.  This class had no depth. 19 players drafted never played a minute in the NBA, the most of any draft in 35 years.

The Best Draft Classes:

98draft5. 1998– This class got off to a rocky start when Michael Olowokandi was selected first, but the shear depth of this class is impressive. Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter give some Hall of Fame credibility, but Antawn Jamison, Mike Bibby, Rashard Lewis, and Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, round out a strong class. 25 players in this class stayed in the NBA for at least 10 seasons, the 2nd most of any class.

1985 Draft4. 1985– Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, and Joe Dumars highlight one of the best classes ever. This draft featured 10 All-Stars, tied for the most of any class. Detlef Schrempf, A.C. Green, Michael Adams, Charles Oakley, Terry Porter, and Xavier McDaniel aren’t bad players to round out the class.

2003 Draft3. 2003– Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony anchor the best class since 2000. 9 All-Stars came out of the draft and James, Wade, and Bosh hooked up for back-to-back titles with the Heat. 4 perennial All-Stars and a couple of all-time greats makes this class truly elite. 27 picks have enjoyed 10+ year NBA careers, the most of any draft in the last 35 years. Interestingly, this class also had 18 players play less than 1 season in the league, also highest of any draft class.

1996-NBA-Draft-Class2. 1996– Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Peja Stojakovic head this group. Three MVP winners (Kobe, Iverson, and Nash) and 10 All-Stars, both tie for most in any class. With Kobe (18), Iverson (11), Allen (10), Nash (8), Peja (3), Jermaine O’Neal (6), Stephon Marbury (2), Antoine Walker (3), Ilgauskas (2), and Abdur-Rahim (1) this class was well represented in every All-Star Game for almost two decades.

1984 Draft class1. 1984– Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton head this class. This class has 4 players in the Top 20 All-Time players according to ESPNrank. When a single class produced 3 different MVPs, and the All-Time leaders in Points per Game, Assists, Steals, and Blocks, and produced the Finals MVPs for an 8 year stretch, you know you have the greatest class ever.

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