The Most Spectacular Draft Classes in NBA History

Joe Acampado@@AwesomepadoCorrespondent INovember 9, 2011

The Most Spectacular Draft Classes in NBA History

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    With the current state of NBA affairs looking bleak, let's take a look at some of the most remarkable and spectacular draft classes in NBA History.

    Of course, there's the good spectacular and the bad spectacular.

    So this list will include the legendary 1984 draft class as well as the abysmal 2000 draft class.  Don't worry, I won't sully the '84 draft by putting those two next to each other.

    There have been some pretty memorable draft classes, of both kinds, in NBA history.  Let's take a look at some of the best and worst ones in no particular order.

2000 Draft

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    Might as well get this draft class out of the way.

    To show how remarkably bad it was, does anyone recognize the guy in the picture?


    If you guessed Stromile Swift, the second pick overall, I'm going to have to ask how did you know that?

    Anyway, Swift was the second pick with Kenyon Martin being the first.

    Other memorable names include Marcus Fizer as the fourth pick, Jerome Moiso as the 11th, and the great Darius Miles as the third.  I'm just going to let you wrap your head around those names for a bit.

    But hey, at least this draft gave us the four-point play specialist, Jamal Crawford.

2001 Draft

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    This draft is spectacular for two reasons.  First, it has the player who would later be known as Eddy Curry's Expiring Contract and the legendary Kwame Brown being taken in the top five.  

    If we throw in Tyson Chandler, then three of the top five picks were kids straight out of high school and only one, Chandler, has managed to stay relevant (for a good reason) now.

    So it was spectacularly bad, but with a silver lining.

    Second, it was the start of the international trend with Pau Gasol going as the third pick.

    With Gasol and Tony Parker being taken in the first round and Mehmet Okur becoming an All-Star, it was a good year for international players.  The NBA took its first steps towards globalizing and expanding its brand this year.

    Back on the homefront, notable players such as Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Gilbert Arenas were also in this draft class.

1979 Draft

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    Let's add to the positive momentum by going with the 1979 draft next.

    At the head we of course have Earvin "Magic" Johnson.  He was so good that he earned the nickname "Magic" at age 15 and it stuck.  Just imagine how good you'd have to be to earn that nickname and get it to stuck your entire life.

    Magic also proved that he was the true number one pick by winning a championship and Finals MVP in his rookie season.

    Outside of Magic, we have Bill Cartwright, Sidney Moncrief and Bill Laimbeer.  All pretty good company for Magic if you ask me.

1985 Draft

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    This was the first draft to use the lottery and the New York Knicks won it despite what conspiracies you may or may not have heard.

    With the first pick, the Knicks chose Patrick Ewing, a Hall of Famer and one of the most dominant centers of his time.

    Also in that class was Xavier McDaniel, Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf, Charles Oakley, Karl Malone and Joe Dumars.

    Karl Malone has the second most points in NBA history, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and formed a nearly unstoppable duo with John Stockton on the Utah Jazz.

    Joe Dumars was part of that Bad Boys era in Detroit and ending up being a two-time champion.

    Safe to say 1985 was one of the better draft years in NBA history.

2002 Draft

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    Yao Ming, Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy, Drew Gooden and Nikoloz Tskitishvili.

    Ladies and gents, these were the first five picks of your 2002 draft class.

    Williams' career was derailed by inconsistency and injuries.  Does anyone really know or care what happened to Tskitishvili?

    Dunleavy was good for an expiring contract and Gooden is a solid role player at best.

    Yao Ming was the only one who made any significant strides in his career, but injuries have forced him to cut it short.

    It says a lot about the draft class when the 10th overall pick, Amar'e Stoudemire in 2002, ends up being the Rookie of the Year.

2006 Draft

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    Wow, looks like the 2000s were filled with crappy draft classes.  No wonder basketball pretty much died last decade.

    At least the 2006 draft had NBA Champion Adam Morrison in it.  Quick question: When Morrison gets introduced at events do you think he has the MC introduce him as two-time NBA Champion Adam Morrison?  It's something I've always wondered.

    Anyway, joining him in the top five picks was Shelden Williams, the world renowned bench warmer.

    Sure LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo are doing their best to make this draft class stink less, but everyone else in the class is currently a role player at best.

    Also, Knicks fans hate this class because a) Isiah Thomas picked Renaldo Balkman and b) had they not traded their pick to Chicago for The Player Who Would be Known as Eddy Curry's Expiring Contract, the Knicks could've drafted LaMarcus Aldridge or someone else.

    Then again, Isiah Thomas might've just taken Balkman then with the second pick.

1996 Draft

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    Let's get out of the 2000s and go back to a happier time, especially for Knicks fans, in the 1990s.

    The 1996 draft was one of the better draft classes in the history of the NBA.

    Allen Iverson was selected first overall.  He went on to win the Rookie of the Year, make 11 All-Star Teams, win the All-Star Game MVP twice, and was the league MVP in 2001.

    Not bad for a number one pick.

    Joining him in the draft class were defensive specialist Marcus Camby as the second pick, Ray Allen as the fifth, and Steve Nash as the 15th.  Allen and Nash are pretty much Hall of Famers.

    Oh right, and there was this kid named Kobe Bryant who was selected 13th overall.

    I'm going to casually mention Stephon Marbury only to spare Knicks fans who've had enough grief when it comes to NBA draft history.

1986 Draft

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    No list of NBA draft classes would be complete without the 1986 class.

    There's the tragedy of Lenny Bias.  Drugs cut short his life and cut short the careers of several other top-10 picks.  

    This class shed light on the NBA's drug problems but it also offered some pretty bad picks as players' careers were dropped by injuries and drugs.

    There were some good picks in Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek, and of course, five-time champion Dennis Rodman.

    Jeez, I never thought I'd write that Dennis Rodman was a positive when not talking about his defensive skills.  Let's move on before I start writing even crazier things.

2003 Draft

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    LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade.

    Those were the top four picks of the 2003 draft.  What?  I missed Darko Milicic?  So did Detroit when they made that pick.

    Other than Darko, that's an amazing top five.  It's also interesting to note that thanks to a certain decision, three of those guys are on the same team.

    Of course, out of those four players, there's only one ring among them, so I'm going to need to hold off on calling them the greatest draft class ever.

    Then there's also Chris Kaman, David West and Mo Williams who all were All-Stars.

1984 Draft

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    Eight championships and eight MVP awards among three guys in the top five.

    One of those guys happens to be Michael Jordan.  The other guys are Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley.  All three of them are considered to be in the top 50 greatest NBA players ever.

    I can spend an entire article on how great Michael Jordan is by himself, but it's kind of a given by this point.  I mean, he did make Space Jam.  Did Kobe or LeBron do that?

    So instead, let's spread the love to the other guys in this draft class.  

    Hakeem Olajuwon was the only player to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP in the same year and was one of the greatest centers ever.  Charles Barkley was the most dominating power forward in his time, a two-time gold medalist, 11-time All-Star and the MVP of 1993.

    Then there's John Stockton, one of the greatest point guards of all time.  He holds the NBA record for career assists and steals.  Not to mention Stockton averaged a career double-double with 13.1 points and 10.5 assists per game.

    Those four guys alone make this the most spectacular draft class...yet.