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The Top 5 NBA Draft Classes of All Time

NBA Draft
NBA Draft
Kunal Sethi
Modified 07 Nov 2020, 22:21 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

As the date for the NBA Draft 2020 approaches, agents, coaches, and analysts reminisce and debate over the greatest draft classes of all time. The question, "Which is the best NBA draft class of all time?" produces passionate discussions among basketball across generations.

With this year's NBA Draft right around the corner, let's delve into the topic that's been dominating bar conversation to sports TV segments.

Top 5 NBA Draft Classes

Teams wielding lottery picks enter the annual draft with the hopes of acquiring a star who can turn things around for their franchise. However, not every draft class produces numerous future Hall of Famers or multiple All-Stars.

Every now and then though, we come across a draft class that is truly star-studded from top to bottom. Let us look at five of the very best NBA draft classes.

#5 1998 NBA Draft

Paul Pierce and Vince Carter
Paul Pierce and Vince Carter

Notable players: Mike Bibby (No. 2), Antawn Jamison (No. 4), Vince Carter (No. 5), Jason Williams (No. 7), Dirk Nowitzki (No. 9), Paul Pierce (No. 10).


This draft class produced three future Hall of Famers and several All-Stars, including Vince Carter, who took the NBA by storm with his rim-rattling dunks. Jason Williams' assists were a sight to behold.

Dirk Nowitzki's unique skillset saw him win the 2007 NBA MVP and lead the Dallas Mavericks to one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history, knocking out Lebron James and the "Heatles" in 2011. The title was the Mavs' first-ever NBA championship and Nowitzki capped it off by winning Finals MVP.

Paul Pierce will go down in history as a Boston Celtics legend and was the Finals MVP for the franchise's 17th and most recent title in 2008.

#4 2009 NBA Draft

2009 NBA Draft Class
2009 NBA Draft Class

Notable Players: Blake Griffin (No. 1), James Harden (No. 3), Ricky Rubio (No. 5), Stephen Curry (No. 7), DeMar DeRozan (No. 9), Jrue Holiday (No. 17), Danny Green (No. 46)

This memorable draft class featured the greatest shooter of all time, Stephen Curry, who changed basketball as we know it. Most of the players from this NBA draft class are still active and continue to break records.


The 2009 NBA draft class features championship winners, MVPs, All-Stars, and first-ballot future Hall of Famers. James Harden was the 2018 NBA MVP and is one of the best scorers of all time.

Danny Green and Stephen Curry are three-time NBA Champions, with Curry becoming the only ever unanimous MVP in 2016. Meanwhile, Danny Green recently became one of the very few players to win an NBA title with three different teams.

#3 2003 NBA Draft

2003 NBA Draft players in an All-Star Game
2003 NBA Draft players in an All-Star Game

Notable Players: LeBron James (No. 1), Carmelo Anthony (No. 3), Chris Bosh (No. 4), Dwyane Wade (No. 5), Kirk Hinrich (No. 7), David West (No. 18), Boris Diaw (No. 21), Josh Howard (No. 29)

This NBA draft class gave us some of the best players to have stepped onto an NBA court, including talents such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony ,and several other All-Stars and future Hall of Famers.


The 2003 class was headlined by LeBron James, a four-time season MVP and Finals MVP. James is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time.

Wade, known as the "The Flash", is one of the best shooting guards ever and a three-time champion and 2006 Finals MVP.

James, Wade, and Chris Bosh teamed up in Miami and led the franchise to four consecutive finals appearances.

#2 1996 NBA Draft

1996 NBA Draft Class
1996 NBA Draft Class

Notable Players: Allen Iverson (No. 1), Marcus Camby (No. 2), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (No. 3), Ray Allen (No. 5), Antoine Walker (No. 6), Kobe Bryant (No. 13), Peja Stojakovic (No. 14), Steve Nash (No. 15)

This gifted class was absolutely stacked. It included MVPs, title winners, and many players who became inspirations for today's NBA players.

Both Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant won the regular season MVP and are arguably two of the best shooting guards to have ever played. Bryant was a generational player who was best known for his "Mamba Mentality".

His constant excellence led to 5 NBA titles and established him as the greatest Laker of all time. Kobe devoted his entire 20-year career to the Los Angeles Lakers.


Steve Nash is one of the best point guards ever and a two-time NBA MVP. Ray Allen, a two-time NBA champion, will go down in history as one of the best three-point shooters to have played.

#1 1984 NBA Draft

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley
Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley

Notable Players: Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1), Michael Jordan (No. 3), Charles Barkley (No. 5), Alvin Robertson (No. 7), Otis Thorpe (No. 9), Kevin Willis (No. 11), John Stockton (No. 16)

Michael Jordan's name alone is almost enough to cement this as the best draft class of all time. Widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan inspired an entire generation of young basketball players.

"His Airness" put the NBA on the global map, and sparked a cultural revolution in the United States. At the time, everyone wanted to "be like Mike". Jordan was utterly dominant and went unbeaten in the finals, with six rings, six Finals MVPs, five regular season MVPs, and several other accolades.


Hakeem Olajuwon is not short of accolades himself, having won back-to-back NBA titles. "The Dream" is the only player in history to win the NBA championship, MVP, Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year in a single season. He lead the league in blocks and rebounds in multiple seasons and will go down in history as one of the best centers the game has seen.

Charles Barkley was the 1993 season MVP, and John Stockton is the all-time leader in steals and assists after a phenomenal 19-year career.

Honorable Mentions:

1985 NBA Draft: Patrick Ewing, Joe Dumars, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Manute Bol, Charles Oakley, Terry Porter, Spud Webb

1987 NBA Draft: David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Reggie Miller, Muggsy Bogues, Mark Jackson

ALSO READ: 2018 NBA Draft: 5 mistakes that teams wish they could go back and change

Published 07 Nov 2020, 22:21 IST
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