It's too early to include the strong 2008 draft class on this list, but that group could rank among the best one day. Here is its main competition.
In the 1984 draft, Sam Bowie (No. 2 pick) and Sam Perkins (No. 4) had some pretty good company in the top five: Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1), Michael Jordan (No. 3) and Charles Barkley (No. 5). In addition, John Stockton was a steal at No. 16. Former All-Stars Alvin Robertson (No. 7) and Kevin Willis (No. 11), along with ex-Blazers standout Jerome Kersey (No. 46), helped round out the class.
2 of 9
Allen Iverson (No. 1), Kobe Bryant (No. 13) and Steve Nash (No. 15) have won MVP awards, and Marcus Camby (No. 2) and Ben Wallace (undrafted) have been honored as the league's top defender. Ray Allen (No. 5) could finish his career as the most prolific three-point shooter of all time. Stephon Marbury (No. 4) and Antoine Walker (No. 6) enjoyed All-Star seasons in their primes, while Peja Stojakovic (No. 14), Jermaine O'Neal (No. 17) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (No. 20) have been productive for years.
3 of 9
The Pistons whiffed at No. 2 with Darko Milicic, but the rest of the top five isn't too shabby: LeBron James, followed by Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. There was good value, too, as the bottom half of the first round produced All-Stars David West (No. 18) and Josh Howard (No. 29), Sixth Man Award winner Leandro Barbosa (No. 28) and championship-winning center Kendrick Perkins (No. 27), and the second round included All-Star Mo Williams (No. 47).
4 of 9
The top four, in order, went Bob Lanier, Rudy Tomjanovich, Pete Maravich (left) and Dave Cowens -- that's three Hall of Famers and a five-time All-Star in Tomjanovich. Geoff Petrie (No. 8) shared Rookie of the Year honors with Cowens. Hall of Fame guards Calvin Murphy (No. 18) and Tiny Archibald (No. 19) were the first two picks of the second round.
5 of 9
The caveat here is that Larry Bird was drafted in 1978 but didn't join the NBA until 1979 -- the same year that Magic Johnson made his professional debut. The '79 class as a whole was underwhelming, though it did include five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief (No. 5), a former 20-point-per-game scorer in Bill Cartwright (No. 3) and two Bad Boys Pistons in Vinnie Johnson (No. 7) and Bill Laimbeer (No. 65).
6 of 9
The Knicks landed Patrick Ewing in the first year of the draft lottery, but the Warriors (Chris Mullin at No. 7), Jazz (Karl Malone at No. 13) and Pistons (Joe Dumars at No. 18) weren't complaining, either. Xavier McDaniel (No. 4), Detlef Schrempf (No. 8), Charles Oakley (No. 9) and Terry Porter (No. 24) helped make up for Jon Koncak (No. 4) and Joe Kleine (No. 5).
7 of 9
David Robinson (No. 1) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, Scottie Pippen (No. 5) will soon follow and Reggie Miller (No. 11) could get the call, too. Kevin Johnson (No. 7) averaged 17.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 12 seasons. Mark Jackson (No. 18) trails only John Stockton on the all-time assists list.
8 of 9
No. 1 pick Michael Olowokandi fizzled, but this class has produced a regular-season MVP (Dirk Nowitzki, No. 9), a Finals MVP (Paul Pierce, No. 10) and other multiple-time All-Stars in Vince Carter (No. 5), Antawn Jamison (No. 4) and Rashard Lewis (No. 32). Mike Bibby (No. 3) has enjoyed All-Star-caliber seasons without making the team.
9 of 9
No superstars in the bunch, but nine of the top 10 picks (including Elton Brand, Baron Davis and Richard Hamilton) have a career average of at least 14 points. The draft looks even better with the inclusion of Andrei Kirilenko (No. 24) and Manu Ginobili (No. 57), who didn't make their NBA debuts until 2001 and 2002, respectively.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!