A Decade's Worth: Best NBA Draft Class of The Last 10 Years

Faizan Qurashi@@FaizanQurashiAnalyst IISeptember 25, 2010

A Decade's Worth: Best NBA Draft Class of The Last 10 Years

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    With the 2010-2011 season just weeks away, I figured it'd be time to reflect back on the decade of the 2000s as we are just a few months away from the start of a new decade. 

    We all know that the '84 and '96 draft classes were one of the best but we won't be discussing them here. 

    Like the title states, the article will be comparing the draft classes of the last 10 years, going all the way back to 2000. There have been so great draft classes and other not so great ones.

    Before we begin, here are some terms I will be utilizing in this article to describe a certain draft and it's players.

    Cream of the Crop - Simply put, the best player in that draft, hands down.

    Unsung Hero - A player that was taken way to low compared to his actual talent level and where he should have been taken. Someone who may have defied all odds and become a great player. 

    The infamous bust - A player that did NOT meet any of the requirements put forth on him and was drafted too high and simply didn't pan out. 

    Ok, Lets get started. 

11. 2010 Draft Class (Undetermined)

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    NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  John Wall of Kentucky stands with NBA Commisioner David Stern after being drafted with the first pick by the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Cream of the Crop: John Wall - The number one overall pick. Simply put, he's the only player experts are banking on to become a star in this league. And they've got good reason to, as Wall is a stud. He comes from the same breed of point guards such as Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, with his freakish combination of speed and ball-handling along with his underrated passing. Wall was proclaimed the first pick since day 1, that should tell you all you need to know. 

    The Unsung Hero:  Paul George - George is an interesting player. He's got all the tools to be special but due to underexposure of his play at Freno State, many fans don't know how good George can really be. He's got all the talent in the world as an athletic 6'9 freak. He'll be a stud in the future.  

    The Infamous bust: Ekpe Udoh - Obviously we can't consider Udoh a bust yet, since he hasn't played, but that's exactly why he's may become one. Udoh is suffering from an injury and is expected to miss the start of the season. This may become an unfortunate trend. I really can't see Udoh justify being the 6th pick. 


    This year's draft seemed like a pretty adequate one. However it too early to whether this draft was one to remember or one to forget. For now, the only sure-fire star seems like John Wall, but Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Demarcus Cousins and Wesley Johnson may also develop into young budding stars. For now though, this draft is considered "undetermined."

10. 2000 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Michael Redd - When Michael Redd is the best player in your draft, you know it's bad. Sadly that's how terrible this draft was, as Redd was one of the rare studs found. He fell all the way to the second round and turned himself into an NBA All-Star talent. That is, before he became injury prone. 

    The Unsung Hero - Hedo Turkoglu - Turkoglu has done a pretty decent job of making a name in this league. He's been to the finals, he's made some big shots and has been a significant player on most teams he's been on. As the 16th pick, he was steal considering some of the talent taken ahead of him.  

    The Infamous bust - Marcus Fizer - It took Marcus Fizer just four seasons to play himself out of the NBA. As the 4th pick in the 2000 draft, Fizer's more known for his 31 tattoos than his play on the court. He currently plays in Puerto Rico. That should say it all. 


    All-Stars - Michael Redd, Jamaal Magloire, Kenyon Martin

    Other notable picks - Jamal Crawford, Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, Morris Peterson, Deshawn Stevenson, Eddie House

    Now, we began with the worst draft class of the past decade, and it's not even close.

    My god, this draft was terrible. If you team held a pick in this draft, they would have been better off giving it away for nothing then acquiring the talent that was available and paying them guarenteed money. Kenyon Martin being the first overall pick should tell you all you need to know about this draft. Sure, he's made the All-Star team once (which he can thank Jason Kidd for), but at best he's a decent big man that's past his prime.

    The next nine picks taken after Martin would make you want to bang your head against the wall, as Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, Mike Miller, Demarr Johnson, Chris Mihm, Jamal Crawford, Joel Pryziblla and Keyon Dooling made up the top 10 picks. Yup, those were the top 10 draft picks. Some drafts have better second round talent than the entire top 10 combined. They'll made a grand total of "0" All-Star teams. Other than Martin, Jamaal Magloire and Michael Redd were the only All-Stars in this pathetic draft. 

9. 2009 Draft Class

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    NEW YORK - JUNE 25:  NBA Commissioner David Stern poses for a photograph with the fourth overall draft pick by the Sacramento Kings,  Tyreke Evans during the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. NOTE
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Cream of the Crop - Blake Griffin/Tyreke Evans - Evans is going to be a stud no doubt as he is the reigning rookie of the year but that's only because Blake Griffin hasn't gotten a chance to show off his insane talent. When last year's number one overall pick steps on the court this season, we'll see if he was really worth the wait. 

    The Unsung Hero - Stephen Curry - Curry was projected by many to be an average role player who makes his living off of shooting at best. One season later, Curry has turned himself into the franchise player for the Warriors and shown off his All-Star potential. At 7th, Curry was a steal for the Warriors. 

    The Infamous bust - Hasheem Thabeet - Sure, some top draft picks don't pan out, that's fine but I don't EVER remember a second overall pick being sent to the D-league in his first season. I mean really, how terrible of a player do you have to be for that to happen?


    All-Stars - None...yet. (Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Blake Griffin)

    Other Notable picks - Taj Gibson, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, James Harden, Jonny Flynn, DeMar DeRozan, Omri Casspi, Dejuan Blair, Rodrigue Beaubois, Jonas Jerebko, Chase Budinger. 

    Ok, so I know that this draft doesn't have any All-Stars. But do you really believe that Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings will never make the All-Star team? if you do, then your going to be dumbfounded because these guys are absolute studs, and will no doubt be All-Stars in the future. Blake Griffin still hasn't played a single game yet, but you can't seem to not think that he'll be a special player considering he was taken first overall by the Clippers. This draft was thought to be a relatively weak one in terms of depth, but has produced some very respectable talent in Taj Gibson, Darren Collison, Dejuan Blair, Ty Lawson, Omri Casspi, Jonas Jerebko and Chase Budinger. It's really too early to tell whether this was a good draft or a great draft. For now though, they occupy this spot. 

8. 2006 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Brandon Roy - Easily the best talent this draft produced. Roy is a perrenial All-Star and the franchise player for the Portland Trailbllazers. He's become the heart and soul of that team with his smooth, silky on court play and his silent assassin demeanor. 

    The Unsung Hero - Rajon Rondo - Drafted and traded by the Suns with the 21st pick, Rondo was one of the few gems in a weak draft. In just 4 seasons, Rondo has gone from being a backup PG to being the starting PG and arguably the best player on a championship team. 

    The Infamous bust - Adam Morrison - I don't think Adam Morrison even knew that he was going to turn out to be this bad. I mean as the third pick, he was just atrocious. He's been injury-prone, inconsistent and has been tossed around the league like a rag doll. 


    All-Stars - Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo

    Other notable picks - Lamarcus Aldrige, Andrea Bargnani, Tyrus Thomas, JJ Redick, Jordan Farmar, Daniel Gibson, Paul Millsap, Thabo Sefolosha, Rudy Gay, Ronnie Brewer. 

    Wow, I wouldn't say this draft was terrible but it was pretty dreadful. To date, it's put out just two All-Stars in Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo. Some picks have panned out and still have potential to improve in Andrea Bargnani, Lamarcus Aldrige and Rudy Gay, but some of the other top picks were downright awful. Adam Morrison was taken 3rd by the Bobcats and he's become the league most notorious bench-warmer. The 5th pick Shelden Williams is only worthy of minimun contracts and he's just in his 5th season. Tyrus Thomas has shown flashes but continues to remind us that he's nothing more than a Lorenzen Wright/Hakim Warrick type player. Patrick O'Bryant, Mohummed Sene and Cedric Simmons have played themselves out of the league. To sum it up, this draft had the potential to be one of the better ones, but never panned out. 

7. 2002 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Amar'e Stoudemire - The absolute stud of the 2002 draft. Yao Ming would be here if his health wasn't as much of an unsure thing as it is. So Stoudemire takes the cake. He's been a 20+ point scorer in this league and a decent rebounder. He needs to improve certain parts of his game but Stoudemire is a perennial All-Star no doubt. 

    The Unsung Hero - Carlos Boozer - Taken in the 2nd round with the 35th pick, Carlos Boozer has made himself quite an amazing career. He's a 2x All-Star and recently signed with the Chicago Bulls for about $80, and for good reason. Boozer is a consistent 20/10 threat and one of the best big men the league has to offer. 

    The Infamous bust - Nikoloz Tskitishvili - Does anyone even remember this guy anymore? he was taken by the Nuggets with the 5th pick, when they could have gotten the likes of Amare Stoudemire, Caron Bulter or Carlos Boozer. In just 4 seasons, Tskitishvili played himself right out of the NBA and is widely regarded as the worst foreign draft bust. 


    All-Stars - Amar'e Stoudemire, Yao Ming, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler

    Other notable picks - Nene, Tayshaun Prince, Roger Mason Jr., Luis Scola, Rasual Butler, Flip Murray.

    The 2002 draft was average at best. It had its fair share of All-Stars in Yao Ming, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Caron Butler, but it also had a significant amount of busts and players that never panned out to what they were projected to be. Number two overall pick Jay Williams ruined his career in a motorcycle accident. The third through sixth picks were absolutely atrocious, with Mike Dunleavy Jr. at third, Drew Gooden at 4th, Nikoloz Tskitishvili at 5th and Dajuan Wagner at 6th. The rest of the draft was filled with underwhelming players but also produced some late gems in Tayshaun Prince and Luis Scola. This draft was a bit below than what you might expect out of a typical draft. 

6. 2004 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Dwight Howard - The best center in the league. A back to back Defensive player of the Year, multiple time All-Star, All-NBA first teamer, 3x Rebound title winner, 2x Block title winner, Dunk Champion. The credentials speak for themselves. Howard was by FAR the best player taken in the 2004 draft. 

    The Unsung Hero - Jameer Nelson - Howard's teammate Jameer Nelson didn't always have it easy. On draft night, he had to wait for 19 picks to be called ahead of him as the Magic drafted Nelson at 20th. And boy, did he make the other teams pay. Nelson has quickly become an All-Star caliber PG and runs the show for the eastern conference powerhouse Orlando Magic. 

    The Infamous Bust - Luke Jackson - When you team drafts Lebron James in the previous year, you would think they could do a little bit better of a job in drafting another quality caliber player to put next to James. However, the Cavs couldn't do that. In fact they were way off. They took an unathletic, limited-potential player in Luke Jackson, who was traded 46 games into the season for cash considerations. Wow, Cleveland. Wow. 


    All-Stars - Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris

    Other notable players - Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Tony Allen, Anderson Varejao, Chris Duhon. 

    The 2004 draft wasn't a great draft by any means, but it was still a quality draft. It produced the 2x Defensive Player of the Year and multiple time All-Star Dwight Howard, as well as All-Stars Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris. The draft lacked star power but more than made it up in its adequate amount of depth. Players such as Emeka Okafur, Ben Gordon, Kevin Martin, Andre Iguadola, Josh Smith, Luol Deng and Al Jefferson have all found their place in the league. However this draft did also have quite a few busts as well in Shaun Livingston, Rafael Arujo, Luke Jackson and Robert Swift. Overall, a good draft though not a great one. 

5. 2007 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Kevin Durant - An MVP caliber talent. Durant has quickly become the best young player in the NBA and is entering the conversation as the best in the game with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. And for good reason, Durant is an exceptional scorer, dead-eye shooter, adequate rebounder and a perfect player to build your franchise around. OKC should be thankful Portland let him them have Durant. 

    The Unsung Hero - Joakim Noah - When Noah got drafted by the Bulls at 9th, Bulls fans wanted him traded before he even stepped foot on an NBA court, that's how much Joakim Noah game was disliked. People saw him as a garbage 10-12 minute role player who would be nothing more than back up center. However, Noah has proved the haters wrong. He's turned himself into a nightly 10/10 double double player, while becoming the vocal leader and cornerstone for the Chicago Bulls. 

    The Infamous Bust - Acie Law - The Atlanta Hawks need a PG and the sweet shooting lefty out of Texas A&M seemed like the answer. Wrong, what the Hawks received was a career 3.7 ppg and 1.6 apg player who was about as inconsistent as they get. Sometimes picks just don't pan out. Acie Law is the perfect example taken at 11th with Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, Wilson Chandler and Rudy Fernandez still on the board. 


    All-Stars - Kevin Durant, Al Horford

    Other notable players - Greg Oden, Jeff Green, Joakim Noah, Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey, Al Thornton, Wilson Chandler, Rudy Fernandez, Aaron Brooks, Jared Dudley, Glen Davis, Marc Gasol, Carl Landry, Ramon Sessions. 

    The 2007 draft was about one of the deeper ones in recent history. While it didn't have the big name stars outside of Kevin Durant, it produced some great talents in Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Jeff Green, Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey and many more. Depth wise, this draft was excellent in providing players that could play within a system and excel. Just to give you an idea of how deep this draft was, Carl Landry was drafted in the second round at 31st, Glen "Big Baby" Davis was drafted at 35th and Ramon Session was drafted 56th overall in the second round. Wow, now that was one deep draft. 

4. 2008 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Derrick Rose - So far the only All-Star from the '08 draft. Rose has quickly emerged as a top 5 PG in the league in just two seasons. He's become an All-Star who's lead his team to the post season both his years in the league. The former Rookie of the Year will look to make the leap to super-stardom this season as he tries to lead the Bulls to the promise land. Thank god, they didn't take Beasley. 

    The Unsung Hero - Courtney Lee - Lee was little known when he was drafted as the 22nd pick, but the Orlando Magic showed Lee's talent off to the entire world in the NBA finals and proved that he was a stud. Now he's with the Rockets as one of their major building blocks. Considering that he wasn't supposed to be anything but a role player, his career should be considered a major success. 

    The Infamous Bust - Joe Alexander - True fact: Joe Alexander is the highest pick (8th) to have had their rookie option declined. Wow, you literally have to be absolutely atrocious to have your rookie option declined. Guess Alexander was just that bad.  


    All-Stars - Derrick Rose

    Other notable players - O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon, Jerryd Bayless, Jason Thompson, Roy Hibbert, JaVale Mcgee, JJ Hickson, Courtney Lee, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Randolph, Serge Ibaka, George Hill, Mario Chalmers, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum, Goran Dragic. 

    Yes, the 2008 draft was that good. Sure, it only put out a sole All-Star in number one overall pick Derrick Rose, but that's only for now. The way I see it, there's going to more than just a couple All-Stars. This draft has the potential have about 5+ All Stars. That means, there's a good chance that Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Eric Gordon will at some point make an All-Star team in their respective careers, possible even multiple All-Star teams. This draft also produced some above-average talent in Michael Beasley, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, Jason Thompson, Roy Hibbert, Jerryd Bayless, Courtney Lee, George Hill and Nicholas Batum. In terms of pure talent, this draft ranks among the highest.

3. 2001 Draft Class

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    Cream of the Crop - Pau Gasol - Gasol has had quite a career. Ever since he was traded from the little-known Memphis Grizzlies to the biggest basketball brand team in the NBA in the Los Angeles Lakers, his career has skyrocketed. But Gasol has always been an amazing talent, even in Memphis he was putting up 20/10 on a nightly basis. He may be the most offensively skilled post in the league and was the best player taken in the 2001 NBA draft. 

    The Unsung Hero - Tony Parker - Parker's career has been quite the rags-to-riches one. He was taken as the last pick in the first round of the 2001 draft and somehow turned himself into a 3x NBA All-Star, 3x NBA champion and an NBA finals MVP. Simply amazing. 

    The Infamous Bust - Kwame Brown - Arguably the worst bust of ALL time, Kwame Brown is known more for being a waste of a number one overall pick than anything else. His stats show why, as Brown has career averages of 6.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists. It's amazing that he's still in the league. 


    All-Stars - Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Zach Randolph, Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur. 

    Other notable players - Jason Richardson, Shane Battier, Tyson Chandler, Richard Jefferson, Troy Murphy, Brendan Haywood, Samuel Dalembert.  

    Many don't seem to recall the 2001 NBA as being a great one, considering that the Number one overall pick was Kwame Brown. However, once you look past Brown, you'll see that this draft was loaded with talent. It produced the likes of NBA All-Star and Champion Pau Gasol, All-Stars Joe Johnson and Zach Randolph. Where this draft really excelled was the fact that the gems of this draft were picked up in the second round, including NBA Finals MVP and NBA All-Star Tony Parker, All-Star Gilbert Arenas and 1x All-Star Mehmet Okur. Yup, this draft was stacked. It even put out some very reputable role players in Jason Richardson, Shane Battier, Troy Murphy and Richard Jefferson. Simply put, it was a one of a kind draft.

2. 2005 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Chris Paul - Arguably the best PG in the NBA, it took Chris Paul just 3 seasons to show why he was one of the best talents in the NBA. With his blazing speed, unbelievable court vision and top-notch passing ability, Paul has become a 3x NBA All-Star, 2x All NBA team, 2x All NBA defensive team, as well as a perennial MVP candidate.  

    The Unsung Hero - Danny Granger - Granger slipped all the way to the 17th pick and made the teams that passed on him regret their decision dreadfully as Granger has become an All-Star talent and a regular 20+ point scorer. 

    The Infamous Bust - Sean May - Injuries ruin a lot of careers. Just ask Sean May, who in just 4 seasons was out of a job due to his injure-prone history. He recently had signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Nets but suffered a stress fracture to his foot and was released. Poor guy. 


    All-Stars - Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Danny Granger, David Lee, (soon to be) Andrew Bogut

    Other notable picks - Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Andrew Bynum, Channing Fyre, Charlie Villenueva, Hakim Warrick, Nate Robinson, C.J. Miles, Ersan Illyasova, Brandon Bass, Monta Ellis, Lou Williams, Andray Blatche, Amir Johnson, Marcin Gortat. 

    When a draft yields one franchise player, it's considered a success. But when it yields 4 franchise players in Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Danny Granger and Andrew Bogut, it's simply an amazing draft. Added to that were some players that have made a name for themselves in Raymond Felton, Channing Fyre, Andrew Bynum and many more. The 2005 draft is in my opinion, is highly underrated in terms of where it ranks with other drafts. It produced many stars and brought in a ton of depth at other positions at well. There were some late round steals that turned into stars, showing the insane amount of talent that was in the draft. Overall, an excellent draft.

1. 2003 Draft Class

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    The Cream of the Crop - Lebron James - Ok, are you ready? here we go. 2x NBA MVP, 6x NBA All-Star, 4x All NBA first team, 2x All NBA second team, 2x All-NBA defensive team, 2x NBA All-Star game MVP, Former Rookie of the Year and NBA scoring champ. those credentials should speak for themselves. Hate him or love him but Lebron James is the most physically gifted and talented player the NBA has ever seen. 

    The Unsung Hero - David West - In a star-studded draft, David West dropped all the way down to the 18th pick and turned himself into a 2x All-Star. He's been solid ever since, averaging near 20 points and 8 rebounds a game. 

    The Infamous Bust - Darko Milicic - Had Milicic not been drafted ahead of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman and David West, maybe he wouldn't have been considered that bad of a pick....nevermind. Milicic was a terrible pick who has career averages of 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. Atleast he got a ring before any of his fellow draft class players did. 


    All-Stars - Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Kaman, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams.

    Other notable picks - Kirk Hinrich, Mikael Pietrus, Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour, Boris Diaw, Kendrick Perkins, Dahntay Jones, Carlos Delfino, Leandro Barbosa, Luke Walton, Zaza Pachulia, Steve Blake, Kyle Korver, Willie Green, Travis Outlaw.

    What else could it have been? this is the best draft that the NBA has put out since the start of the millenium. The first, third, fourth and fifth pick have all gone on to become all-stars and have yielded the faces that rule the NBA platform today in Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. Outside of the stars, there were plenty other players teams have been fortunate enough to draft that turned out to be a bit more than servicable NBA players. These include the likes of 2x All-Star David West, All-Star Mo Williams, All-NBA defender Kirk Hinrich and more. The 2003 draft brought in a plethora of talent to the NBA and it continues to have a impact on the NBA today in a major way. The best draft of the decade by far.


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