This year’s version of the NBA Draft is just about a month out. There are some who consider this draft class as mediocre while others take it one step further and say it’s awful, with no true superstar available.
Time will certainly tell if that ends up being the case, but here are the five best classes in the lottery era with unquestioned talent.
There may be draft classes with better players selected at the top, but it’s impossible to find one with better depth than this one had.
Allen Iverson, the first overall pick, will be a Hall of Famer one day. There has never been a player in NBA history who got more of his skill set than AI. Iverson was less than 6′ and weighed only 165 pounds, but won Rookie of the Year, a Most Valuable Player award and was the league’s scoring champion four different times.
The draft that year also featured Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, all three of whom will be in the Hall one day soon. Guys like Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Antoine Walker, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all appeared in at least one All-Star game and many of them were in it multiple times.
It was headlined by LeBron James, who is currently the best player in the world and could be put in the same discussion as Jordan when his career comes to an end. James’ current teammates, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and his Team USA teammate Carmelo Anthony would be picked after LBJ and all three could be in Springfield one day if they remain healthy and continue putting up the numbers they have throughout their careers.
Like every draft class, there were busts. Guys like Michael Sweetney, Jarvis Hayes, Marcus Banks, Reece Gaines, Troy Bell and Zarko Cabarkapa would have very short careers in the league, but the quality depth of this class outweighs the busts. Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour, David West, Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard and Mo Williams are just a few of the names who have had long, productive NBA careers.
Not bad indeed.
Yet another class with multiple guys who considered the league’s all-time greats. This class had two; David Robinson and Scottie Pippen both were voted as the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players. Robinson and Pippen would make multiple All-Star appearances and win a total of eight championships behind the two of them.
Robinson and Pippen weren’t the only great players to come from this draft though. It also featured Reggie Miller, a Hall of Famer and one of the best pure shooters the league has ever seen.
Four other players in this class would go on to play in All-Star games; Kevin Johnson, Mark Jackson, Reggie Lewis and Horace Grant. It also included familiar names like Kenny Smith, who now is with TNT, and Derrick McKey and Muggsy Bogues, both who had solid careers in the league.
The first year of the new lottery era was a pretty darn good one.
Ewing wasn’t the only hall of famer in this class. Chris Mullin, Karl Malone and Joe Dumars all eventually made it to Springfield. Mullin is considered one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history while many fans consider Malone as the best power forward ever to play. The Pistons wouldn’t have won those titles in the 1989 and 1990 without Dumars on the roster.
There have been few drafts where the top three selections each made at least one All-Star game. The 1999 class was one of them.
Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis won’t end up Springfield, but all three were really good in their primes. If they could have stayed healthy throughout their careers, who knew how good they could have been.
Wally Szczerbiak, Richard Hamilton, Shawn Marion, Metta World Peace and Andrei Kirilenko all have had very good NBA careers. Szczerbiak is the only one of the group who is no longer playing in the NBA, but the others remain critical parts to their respective teams.
This class will long be remembered for the San Antonio Spurs selection of Manu Ginobili with the second-to-last pick of the second round. It is safe to say that he will forever be the best second-round pick in NBA history.