10 Best NBA Draft Classes of All Time: 2023 Edition
What are the 10 best NBA draft classes of all time? From the 1984 draft class featuring Michael Jordan to the 1996 class featuring Kobe Bryant, we take a look at the best of them all. The NBA Draft can turn a team going through a franchise rebuild into a championship contender. These are the 10 best NBA drafts classes of all time.
10. 1992 NBA Draft Class
Shaquille O'Neal is the face of the 1992 draft class and is one of the most entertaining players in history. Selected first overall by the Orlando Magic he went on to win four NBA championships with the Lakers, earned three Finals MVP awards, an NBA MVP award in 2000, and was named an All-Star 15 times.
Shaq entered the Hall of Famer in 2016, a feat that second pick Alonzo Mourning, and third pick Christian Laettner have also achieved. All-Star Tom Gugliotta was drafted at pick six by the Washington Bullets, and Latrell Sprewell at 24 by the Golden State Warriors.
29 years ago today, the Magic selected @SHAQ with the first pick in the 1992 NBA draft.His highlights with Orlando are iconic 🔥 pic.twitter.com/KkjMul907I — NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 24, 2021
9. 2001 NBA Draft Class
The 2001 NBA Draft is one of the best NBA draft classes of all time and was loaded with talent. It didn't start well with one of the biggest draft busts of all time Kwame Brown first off the board. All-Stars Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol followed straight after and the big men both had great careers.
Gasol won two NBA championships with the Lakers, and the surprise of the draft was Tony Parker with the 28th pick who went on to win four championships with the Spurs. Joe Johnson was picked at 10th, Zach Randolph at 19th, Gerald Wallace at number 25 and Gilbert Arenas with the 31st pick.
My Pau Gasol Tribute thread starts with what I believe is his best singular highlight. pic.twitter.com/NlhmZWPDHq— Got ‘Em (@GotEm_Coach) October 5, 2021
8. 1999 NBA Draft Class
The 1999 NBA Draft doesn't have a consensus superstar amongst the class but there was a wealth of talent spread out across the board. Only Shawn Marion earned more than three All-Star appearances within the class.
Elton Brand was taken with the first pick by the Chicago Bulls and earned All-Star selection along with Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Wally Szczerbiak and Andrei Kirilenko. Fourth pick Lamar Odom, 7th pick Richard Hamilton, 9th pick Shawn Marion, 10th pick Jason Terry and 16th pick Ron Artest all won NBA championships.
A surprise of the class was Manu Ginobili who was taken with the second last pick of the draft all the way down in 57th. Ginobili became a two-time All-Star, won four NBA championships with San Antonio and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022.
21 years ago today, the 1999 NBA Draft class walked the stage.The class produced NINE All-Stars: ‣ Elton Brand ‣ Steve Francis ‣ Baron Davis ‣ Wally Szczerbiak ‣ Richard Hamilton ‣ Shawn Marion ‣ Ron Artest ‣ Andrei Kirilenko ‣ Manu Ginobili pic.twitter.com/ofM8bHaeMD — CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) June 30, 2020
7. 2009 NBA Draft Class
In 2009 we witnessed one of the best NBA draft classes with Blake Griffin coming off the board first via the LA Clippers. The top 10 featured James Harden in third, Stephen Curry at number seven and DeMar DeRozan at nine. Unfortunately for the Memphis Grizzlies they drafted a position need with the second pick, drafting one of the biggest busts with center Hasheem Thabeet.
Overall the 2009 draft lacked depth but Stephen Curry is the greatest three-point NBA shooter of all-time, and both Curry and Harden have been awarded Most Value Player awards. Jrue Holiday in 17th and Jeff Teague in 19th have also earned All-Star appearances.
2009 ➡️ 2019The '09 draft class, 10 years later 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CSBSnjH15d — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 21, 2019
6. 1998 NBA Draft Class
Michael Olowokandi was selected with the first pick of the 1998 NBA Draft but turned out to be one of the biggest draft busts. Nowitzki is one of the biggest successes of the class and earned an MVP award in 2007.
In the top 10 of the draft was Antawn Jamison who was selected fourth, Vince Carter in fifth, Nowitzki in ninth and Paul Pierce in 10th. All four of them became superstars and all scored over 20,000 points in the NBA.
Nowitzki and Pierce both won an NBA championship with the Mavericks and Celtics respectively. Between all four they earned 34 All-Star appearances and 18 All-NBA team selections. Rashard Lewis was picked 32nd overall and became a two-time All-Star.
Half man, half amazing.Vince Carter has a nasty highlight reel 🔥 pic.twitter.com/q2WXELCGkx — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 25, 2020
5. 1987 NBA Draft Class
David Robinson was the first pick of the 1987 NBA Draft and was followed up by Scottie Pippen with the 5th pick and Reggie Miller with the 11th pick. All three have made it into the Hall of Fame, and both Robinson and Miller are among the greatest single franchise players ever.
San Antonio accomplished the rarity of picking the true best player of the draft class with Robinson who became one of the greatest shot blockers in the NBA. Miller became one of the greatest three-point shooters in history.
Pippen along with Horace Grant, who was drafted 10th, won three NBA championships alongside Michael Jordan. Other notable All-Stars of the draft were Kevin Johnson, Mark Jackson and Reggie Lewis.
Scottie Pippen highlights 🏀👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/rSt39wqgCK— REAL TALK W/ Amethyst (@2004Williespade) July 22, 2021
4. 1985 NBA Draft Class
The 1985 NBA Draft is often overlooked because it followed the class of 1984 starring Michael Jordan. Patrick Ewing was taken off the board first by the Knicks, and Karl Malone was a steal for the Jazz at 13th. The pair earned 25 All-Star appearances and 21 All-NBA teams between them.
Other highlights of the class were Xavier McDaniel, Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf and Charles Oakley, who were all selected in the top 10. Between the four of them they earned ten All-Star appearances.
Joe Dumars at 18th was an excellent pick for the Detroit Pistons, with Dumars forming one of the fiercest backcourt combinations with Isiah Thomas. The pair went on to win back-to-back championships for Detroit and helped to create one of the biggest NBA rivalries against the Chicago Bulls.
Players selected in the 1985 #NBADraft scored 315,923 career pts, almost 40,000 more than any other draft class. pic.twitter.com/wOsfg6h2JS— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 25, 2015
3. 2003 NBA Draft ClassThe 2003 draft is one of the best NBA draft classes with a phenomenal amount of talent. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were all drafted in the top five. James, Wade and Bosh all teamed up to win the 2012 and 2013 championships with the Miami Heat.
Darko Milicic is the biggest draft bust of all time and was picked at number two by the Detroit Pistons. All-Stars of the class were Chris Kaman at 6th, David West at 18th, Josh Howard at 29th, Mo Williams with pick 47, and one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time, Kyle Korver, at 51st.
16 years ago today, the Pistons selected Darko Milicic instead of Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh with the 2nd pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.He averaged 1.4 PTS, 1.3 REB during his rookie year and the Pistons still won the NBA Championship. pic.twitter.com/h3ezysKYBm — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 26, 2019
2. 1984 NBA Draft Class
Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player of all time and headlines one of the best NBA draft classes. Jordan was selected third overall in the 1984 draft after Hakeem Olajuwon, who is one of the best defenders we've ever seen. Sam Bowie was picked at third in the draft and is one of the biggest NBA draft busts ever.
John Stockton is the all-time leader in both assists and steals. He was selected at 16th and is one of the greatest single franchise players after spending 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz. Stockton Charles Barkley was also taken at 5th in the draft by the 76ers.
Between Barkley, Jordan, Stockton and Olajuwon, theycombined for a total of 8 NBA championships, 47 All-Star games, 45 All-NBA teams, 7 MVP awards, and they've all been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The 1984 NBA draft is still the best draft class ever pic.twitter.com/LdwAFwqlSk— Retro Awesomeville (@retro_70s) May 3, 2022
1. 1996 NBA Draft Class
The 1996 NBA draft class is the best of all time. The first six picks were Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, and Antoine Walker. The draft also featured Kobe Bryant, selected with the 13th pick, followed up with the picks of Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal and then Zydrunas Ilgauskas at 20.
Derek Fisher was picked up by the Lakers at 24th and pulled off one of the best plays in NBA history with the 0.4 Shot that helped eliminate the Spurs in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals. Kobe was the real star of the draft however.
One of the best shooting guards of all time, Kobe became a two-time MVP, 18-time All-Star and won five NBA titles with the Lakers. Ray Allen became one of the greatest ever three-point shooters, and both Iverson and Nash were also MVPs and are among the best players who never won an NBA championship.
Is this the best draft class ever? 26 YEARS AGO TODAY, The 1996 NBA Draft!1: Iverson 2: Camby 3: Shareef 4: Marbury 5: Ray Allen 6: Antoine Walker 13: Kobe 14: Peja 15: Nash 17: J. O'Neal 20: Big Z 24: Fisher Undrafted: Ben Wallace pic.twitter.com/iIe4z1OZky — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 26, 2022
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Tell me you're a basketball fan without saying it, hehehe
This was a great posr
They've really got many legends over the years
thanks bro appreciate ya. Love me some bball and the NBA is one of the most entertaining sports leagues out there
Hahaha... I respect your view although my favourite sport is soccer
1996 draft class is insane. What do you think 2023 draft class?
Victor Wembanyama is definitely become one of the best basketball player ever.
Wembanyama is going to be absolutely insane and will transform whoever he goes too. Take a look at Scoot Henderson. He's got comparisons to DRose and John Wall. Gonna be an amazing class