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5 worst NBA Draft classes of the 21st century

Brooklyn Nets vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Brooklyn Nets vs Cleveland Cavaliers
ANALYST
Modified 09 Nov 2020, 23:00 IST
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The NBA Draft classes tend to feature superstar-caliber players who go on to win several accolades in the NBA and etch their names in the competition's history books. Two such NBA Draft classes were 1984 and 2003, to name a few. However, some NBA Draft classes have produced massively underwhelming players.

Five worst NBA Draft classes in the 21st century

The NBA Draft provides teams the opportunity to select potentially transcendent players in the hope that they would go on to change the fortunes of the franchises. However, that does not always happen. Players emerging from a few NBA Draft classes did not live up to the expectations of franchises or their fans.

In the first 16 NBA Draft nights of this century, only three produced a player apiece who went on to garner All-Star and All-NBA selections. That can make the evaluation of an NBA Draft class a challenging proposition.

There might be hidden talent among late entrants in the first round or in the second round of an NBA Draft. However, the absence of solid performances from the top-five selections in a draft class tends to downgrade the quality of the said NBA Draft.

Without further ado, let's have a look at the five-worst NBA Draft classes of the 21st century.


#5 2004 NBA Draft

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Emeka Okafor was selected #2 by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Emeka Okafor was selected #2 by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Though Dwight Howard was the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, that class largely underwhelmed in terms of the players it produced.

Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Shaun Livingston, Devin Harris and Josh Childress followed Howard. Though they turned out to be solid NBA pros, none of them achieved superstar status, with only one (Harris) making an All-Star team.

The rest of that NBA Draft class gave us Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, JR Smith, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and Kevin Martin. They were decent players but were not stunning.

In fact, Howard is the only player of the 2004 NBA Draft to have gone on to have All-Star and All-NBA selections in his career. Of course, Iguodala has one Finals MVP award to his name, and Tony Allen was a tremendous defender too, but overall, the class was largely a forgettable one.

There were as many as 13 players in this NBA Draft who did not play a single NBA game, which is the second-most in the 21st century (behind that of the 2015 NBA Draft class, which had as many as 15 players who did not play a match in the NBA).


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#4 2002 NBA Draft

The Memphis Grizzlies selected Drew Gooden (right) with the fourth pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.
The Memphis Grizzlies selected Drew Gooden (right) with the fourth pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.

Yao Ming was the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. While there is no doubt about Ming's pedigree as a player - he was a Hall of Famer and an All-Star in every year of his career - those who followed him in that NBA Draft were far from being superstars.

Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Drew Gooden, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Dajuan Wagner, Nene Hilario and Chris Wilcox were selected between Yao Ming and Amar'e Stoudemire (ninth pick).

Ming, Stoudemire and second-rounder Carlos Boozer were the only players of this NBA Draft class who went on to have All-Star and All-NBA selections. Tayshaun Prince (23rd) and Caron Butler (tenth overall pick) had solid but unspectacular careers.

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Published 09 Nov 2020, 23:00 IST
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