Greatest NBA Draft Classes of All Time
The greatest dynasties in NBA history have to start somewhere. That somewhere is always the NBA draft.
Franchises rise and fall depending on the decisions they make on draft day. Those decisions can come with a high dose of heartache or happiness (depending on your team) and create some heated sports debates.
These are the greatest NBA draft classes of all time. And remember, it's not always about who got picked No. 1 overall.
30. Lots of Talent, Lots of Problems (2019)
No. 1 overall selection: Zion Williamson, forward, New Orleans Pelicans (Duke)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, Tyler Herro, De'Andre Hunter, Matisse Thybulle
Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, point guard, Memphis Grizzlies
New No. 1 pick: Morant
Bottom Line: 2019 NBA Draft
There is so much shade being thrown at the 2019 NBA Draft class right now — and rightfully so in most cases — that I'd like to take the opposite side and say I still have faith this class could still correct course and become impactful.
Right now it doesn't look great, though. No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has been one of the NBA's dominant players when he's actually been on the court, but has only played 114 regular-season games in four seasons.
The real star of the 2019 draft has been Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who seemed on the verge of taking over the league headed into the 2022-23 season. That's when things went off the rails. The two-time NBA All-Star was suspended eight games for displaying a gun on Instagram Live and received the sternest of reprimands from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver ... then did the same thing a few months later. Morant was eventually suspended for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA season.
29. Brown Becomes Crown Jewel (2016)
No. 1 overall selection: Ben Simmons, guard/forward, Philadelphia 76ers (LSU)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram, Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, Malcolm Brogdon, Jamal Murray
Rookie of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, guard, Milwaukee Bucks
New No. 1 pick: Brown
Bottom Line: 2016 NBA Draft
We can't talk about the 2016 NBA draft without mentioning the bizarre struggles of No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons — a 6-foot-10 guard who didn't play his first season because of an injury and experienced a meltdown in the 2021 NBA playoffs unlike any we've ever seen.
Outside of Simmons, there's some surprising talent on the table for the 2016 class, led by Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, Domantas Sabonis, unlikely Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon and Jamal Murray, a surprising star for the Denver Nuggets.
It's Brown who will likely end up becoming the biggest winner, though. After making the All-NBA Team in 2023, he's eligible for a super max contract that would pay him upwards of $50 million per season.
28. Blazers Miss on Another All-Time Great (2007)
No. 1 overall selection: Greg Oden, center, Portland TrailBlazers (Ohio State University)
Hall of Famers: None
Other notable selections: Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant, forward, Seattle SuperSonics
New No. 1 pick: Durant
Bottom Line: 2007 NBA Draft
We can all agree at this point in Kevin Durant's career that he's one of the greatest players in NBA history — likely a top 10 player of all time.
The problem for the Portland Trail Blazers is that they didn't take Durant when they had the chance, missing out on another generational talent after passing on Michael Jordan in 1984.
Like many drafts on this list, it's one player who really makes the whole class so worthy. In this case that's Durant, but you also can point to a tremendous amount of talent, including a future NBA Defensive Player of the Year in second-round pick Marc Gasol and two more really good but not great players in Al Horford and Mike Conley.
27. It's OK to Be Good and Not Great (1999)
No. 1 overall selection: Elton Brand, power forward, Chicago Bulls (Duke)
Hall of Famers: Manu Ginobili
Other notable selections: Baron Davis, Shawn Marion, Metta Sandiford-Artest, Manu Ginobili, Steve Francis, Richard Hamilton, Wally Szczerbiak, Andrei Kirilenko, Lamar Odom, Jason Terry, Andre MIller
Rookie of the Year: Brand and Steve Francis
New No. 1 pick: Ginobili
Bottom Line: 1999 NBA Draft
Not every class is going to be chock-full of Hall of Famers — or even get any Hall of Famers at all.
The 1999 draft class may not have the headliners that some of the other classes around it did, but it's a shining jewel compared to the dumpster fire that was the 2000 NBA draft, widely considered one of the worst in pro sports history.
The 1999 class actually featured a lot of really good players who made huge impacts — none more than Manu Ginobili, who didn't join the Spurs until 2002 but played 16 seasons, won four NBA championships and was one of the most consistent shooting guards in the NBA for almost his entire career.
He's also the 1999er who has actually made it to the Hall of Fame.
26. The Greatest Draft Day Drama of All Time (1993)
No. 1 overall selection: Chris Webber, power forward, Orlando Magic (Michigan, traded to Golden State Warriors)
Hall of Famers: Chris Webber
Other notable selections: Penny Hardaway, Allan Houston, Jamal Mashburn, Vin Baker, Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel, Bryon Russell, Isaiah Rider
Rookie of the Year: Chris Webber
New No. 1 pick: Still Webber
Bottom Line: 1993 NBA Draft
Say what you will about whether or not the 1993 draft class made the most of its talent. You can't say this wasn't the greatest single day of draft drama in all of NBA history.
After the Orlando Magic picked Chris Webber No. 1 overall they traded him to the Golden State Warriors at the behest of star center Shaquille O'Neal — the No. 1 pick in 1992 — in order to get the rights to Memphis point guard Penny Hardaway.
The stunning swap delivered Hardaway and three future first-round picks to the Magic while Webber lasted just one season with the Golden State Warriors. Those two players alone, with the sheer entertainment they provided for the next decade, keep this draft close to my heart.
One underrated player off this draft? Houston Rockets guard Sam Cassell, who was a key player on back-to-back NBA championship teams in 1994 and 1995.
25. Building Blocks for the NBA (1950)
No. 1 overall selection: Charlie Share, center, Boston Celtics (Bowling Green)
Hall of Famers: Bob Cousy, Paul Arizin, George Yardley, Bill Sharman, Earl Lloyd
Other notable selections: Larry Faust, Chick Cooper
Rookie of the Year: Paul Arizin, guard/forward, Philadelphia Warriors
New No. 1 pick: Bob Cousy, point guard, Boston Celtics
Bottom Line: 1950 NBA Draft
This draft makes the list not just because of Bob Cousy but because of the five Hall of Famers who were selected — Cousy, Paul Arizin, George Yardley, Bill Sharman and Earl Lloyd
More than that, this year was groundbreaking as the first time Black players were selected in the NBA draft. Chick Cooper was picked No. 12 and Lloyd was picked No. 100. Lloyd became the first Black player in NBA history, making his debut one day before Cooper.
It's Cousy, however, who really steals the show. He refused to play for the team that drafted him, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, ended up on the team he wanted all along with the Boston Celtics, won six NBA titles and was the 1957 NBA MVP.
24. Euros Take Over (2001)
No. 1 overall selection: Kwame Brown, center, Washington Wizards (Glynn Academy)
Hall of Famers: Pau Gasol, Tony Parker
Other notable selections: Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Tyson Chandler, Joe Johnson, Zack Randolph, Gilbert Arenas, Gerald Wallace, Mehmet Okur, Jason Richardson
Rookie of the Year: Pau Gasol, forward/center, Memphis Grizzlies
New No. 1 pick: Gasol
Bottom Line: 2001 NBA Draft
We all know the story of Kwame Brown and his absolute disaster of an NBA career after being selected No. 1 overall — even if he's just starting to answer critics in 2021.
What's interesting about the 2001 class is that if we were to get to pick it over again, it's another big man that would go No. 1 with Spain's Pau Gasol, who went on to make six All-Star teams and win back-to-back championships with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
Gasol is one of two surefire Hall of Famers from the 2001 class alongside fellow European and four-time NBA champion Tony Parker, who was taken No. 28 overall by the San Antonio Spurs.
23. Give It Up for Chris Paul (2005)
No. 1 overall selection: Andrew Bogut, center, Milwaukee Bucks (Utah)
Hall of Famers: None
Other notable selections: Deron Williams, Danny Granger, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack, Monta Ellis, Lou Williams, Jeff Green
Rookie of the Year: Chris Paul, point guard, New Orleans Hornets
New No. 1 pick: Paul
Bottom Line: 2005 NBA Draft
The last two seasons have greatly changed the legacy of point guard Chris Paul, the No. 5 overall pick and likely the only player from the 2005 draft class who will make it to the Hall of Fame.
Beyond Paul, there aren't a lot of stars that were picked in 2005, but you can't look past the impact the class had as far as depth. Five other players taken in the first round have either been All-NBA or All-Star picks.
Paul's missing an NBA championship on his resume — at this point that might just be how it goes. It's also probably the one thing No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut has that he doesn't.
22. Tatum Separating From the Pack? (2017)
No. 1 overall selection: Markelle Fultz, point guard, Philadelphia 76ers (Washington)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, De'Aaron Fox, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum
Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons, guard/forward, Philadelphia 76ers
New No. 1 pick: Tatum
Bottom Line: 2017 NBA Draft
It's easy to see that Markelle Fultz has been a bust at No.1 overall. What we don't understand is how the Philadelphia 76ers thought that he was the top pick in the first place.
That's not so much a knock on Fultz as a tip of the hat to the talent that was behind Fultz — most specifically how the 76ers passed on Duke forward Jayson Tatum, who is now in his prime and one of the NBA's best players.
21. Two Point Guards, Two MVPs (2008)
No. 1 overall selection: Derrick Rose, guard, Chicago Bulls (Memphis)
Hall of Famers: None
Other notable selections: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Goran Dragic, DeAndre Jordan, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Danilo Gallinari, Serge Ibaka
Rookie of the Year: Derrick Rose
New No. 1 pick: Westbrook
Bottom Line: 2008 NBA Draft
You can't leave a draft class off the list that includes the youngest NBA MVP in history with Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who saw his career derailed by injuries in later years but is still somehow in the league.
When Rose fell off, however, another guard picked up the slack, Russell Westbrook, and won an NBA MVP for himself in 2017. Westbrook became the first player in 55 years to average a triple-double and was actually the final first-round pick of the Seattle SuperSonics but the franchise moved to Oklahoma City before he ever played a game in the Pacific Northwest.
20. The Big Diesel Is The Big Prize (1992)
No. 1 overall selection: Shaquille O’Neal, center, Orlando Magic (LSU)
Hall of Famers: Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning
Other notable selections: Latrell Sprewell, Robert Horry, Jimmy Jackson, Doug Christie, Christian Laettner, Tom Gugliotta, P.J. Brown
Rookie of the Year: O'Neal
New No. 1 pick: O'Neal
Bottom Line: 1992 NBA Draft
Some drafts end up on the list due to the sheer magnitude of just one player. In this case, that would be LSU center Shaquille O'Neal, who can be credited with making sure NBA basketball would be in Orlando for years to come.
While the Magic couldn't hold onto O'Neal once free agency came calling, he did win four NBA championships once he left. After him, the only other Hall of Famer was Alonzo Mourning, another center, but there was a lot of talent that played a long time in the league after all of them.
Most notable out of that group? Has to be Robert Horry, a seven-time NBA champion who may be the most clutch player. Not just in NBA history, but in all of professional sports.
19. Starting Off With a GOAT (1969)
No. 1 overall selection: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, center, Milwaukee Bucks (UCLA)
Hall of Famers: Abdul-Jabbar, JoJo White
Other notable selections: Lucius Allen, Butch Beard, Norm Van Lier, Bob Dandridge, Steve Mix
Rookie of the Year: Abdul-Jabbar
New No. 1 pick: Still Abdul-Jabbaar
Bottom Line: 1969 NBA Draft
One glance at the first round of the 1969 NBA draft doesn't tell its whole story. Just two Hall of Famers were picked with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and JoJo White.
But there's much more depth than that, as future All-Stars were picked in the third round (Norm Van Lier), fourth round (Bob Dandridge) and fifth round (Jim Mix).
It's the mercurial Abdul-Jabbar who puts this draft on the list. The Hall of Famer won six NBA championships, and any conversation about the greatest basketball player of all time that doesn't include him isn't worth having.
18. Germany's Greatest Export (1998)
No. 1 overall selection: Michael Olowokandi, center, Los Angeles Clippers (Pacific)
Hall of Famers: Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki
Other notable selections: Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Antawn Jamison, Jason Williams, Mike Bibby
Rookie of the Year: Vince Carter, forward, Toronto Raptors
New No. 1 pick: Nowitzki
Bottom Line: 1998 NBA Draft
There's only one Hall of Famer so far from the 1998 draft class with Paul Pierce, but there's two more surefire Hall of Famers on the way with Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter, who just recently retired.
What's more amazing about this draft being ranked on this list is that it features one of the all-time No. 1 pick busts in the history of professional sports with Pacific center Michael Olowokandi. And even with three Hall of Famers, none of them were taken until the No. 5 pick, when Carter was selected.
But it's German-born Nowitzki who truly changed the game. He's the greatest European player of all time.
17. Who Wants a Power Forward? (1982)
No. 1 overall selection: James Worthy, power forward, Los Angeles Lakers (North Carolina)
Hall of Famers: James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins
Other notable selections: Terry Cummings, Van Lever, Sleepy Floyd, Ricky Pierce, Clark Kellogg, Craig Hodges
Rookie of the Year: Terry Cummings, forward, San Diego Clippers
New No. 1 pick: Wilkins
Bottom Line: 1982 NBA Draft
It's easy to say that things panned out exactly how they should have, with James Worthy becoming the power forward the Los Angeles Lakers needed for the Showtime era.
But look closer. What might have happened if the Lakers took Dominique Wilkins instead of Worthy with the No. 1 overall pick? Can you really make an argument that Worthy was a better player than Wilkins, one of the most exciting players in NBA history? Even No. 2 pick Terry Cummings probably would have won with the Lakers.
What we're saying is that Worthy wasn't that special, necessarily, but there's something to be said for capitalizing on the opportunity in front of you.
16. Hondo and Jerry Lucas (1962)
No. 1 overall selection: Bill McGill, forward/center, Chicago Zephyrs (Utah)
Hall of Famers: John Havlicek, Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas, Zelmo Beaty, Chet Walker
Other notable selections: Len Chappell, Terry Dischinger, Don Nelson
Rookie of the Year: Terry Dischinger, guard/forward, Chicago Zephyrs
New No. 1 pick: John Havlicek, guard/forward, Boston Celtics
Bottom Line: 1962 NBA Draft
It's a testament to how great John Havlicek's career was that the Boston Celtics legend and eight-time NBA champion stands out clearly as the best player in the 1962 NBA draft, but there was much more to this class than just Hondo.
Ohio State star and future Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas actually didn't want to play in the NBA and was headed to the American Basketball League's Cleveland franchise, but it folded before he could play a game.
In another weird twist, New York Knicks star and Hall of Famer Dave Debusschere actually played two seasons for the Chicago White Sox before playing in the NBA.
15. It's Not Just All About Luka, But Sort Of (2018)
No. 1 overall selection: Deandre Ayton, center, Phoenix Suns (Arizona)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Mikal Bridges, Shae Gilgeous-Alexander, Donte DiVincenzo, Kevin Huerter
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic, guard, Dallas Mavericks
New No. 1 pick: Doncic
Bottom Line: 2018 NBA Draft
The 2021 NBA playoffs quickly turned into a showcase for the 2018 draft class, led by the emergence of Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young into one of the NBA's unquestioned best players.
What's been more surprising is the emergence of No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, a center who struggled through his first two seasons in the league but has shown he could be one of the NBA's elite big men for the next decade.
The true unicorn from the 2018 class is Luka Doncic. The Dallas Mavericks guard will likely sign a five-year, $200 million max contract extension this summer.
14. It's Not Just Magic, Then Everybody Else (1979)
No. 1 overall selection: Magic Johnson, point guard, Los Angeles Lakers (Michigan State)
Hall of Famers: Magic Johnson, Sidney Moncrief
Other notable selections: Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Bill Cartwright, Jim Paxson, Calvin Natt, James Donaldson, Mark Eaton, Cliff Robinson
Rookie of the Year: Larry Bird, forward, Boston Celtics
New No. 1 pick: Still Magic
Bottom Line: 1979 NBA Draft
The 1979 draft class was defined by the No. 1 overall pick, Michigan State superstar Magic Johnson, but there was so much more to it than just the point guard who led the Lakers to five NBA championships over the next decade.
The 1979 draft ended up with only two Hall of Famers in Magic and No. 5 pick Sidney Moncrief to the Milwaukee Bucks, but it had a staggering amount of depth.
Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson were two key parts of the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" teams that won back-to-back NBA titles. The late Mark Eaton, a fifth-round pick, was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and finished his career No. 2 on the NBA's list of blocks leaders behind just Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Rookie of the Year Larry Bird was drafted in 1978, but stayed in school and played one more season at Indiana State before joining the Boston Celtics.
13. This Class Gets Buckets (2012)
No. 1 overall selection: Anthony Davis, center, New Orleans Pelicans (Kentucky)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Harrison Barnes
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard, guard, Portland Trail Blazers
New No. 1 pick: Green
Bottom Line: 2012 NBA Draft
It's OK if you had to do a double-take at the new No. 1 overall pick from 2012 . We picked Draymond Green over Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal.
The reason Green gets the nod is because it's impossible to envision the Golden State Warriors establishing the dynasty without the 6-foot-8 forward out of Michigan State. In every NBA dynasty, there has to be a guy willing to do the dirty work, and for that, the Warriors found a perfect player in Green.
It will be interesting to see how many Hall of Famers this class produces. While history is still being written, Green, Davis, Lillard and Beal all seem like they have a chance.
12. No Draft Class Received More Hype (2014)
No. 1 overall selection: Andrew Wiggins, forward, Minnesota Timberwolves (Kansas)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Zach Lavine, Marcus Smart, Jerami Grant, Jordan Clarkson
Rookie of the Year: Andrew Wiggins
New No. 1 pick: Jokic
Bottom Line: 2014 NBA Draft
No draft has been more hyped than the 2014 class. ESPN called it "transcendent" in the introduction to its broadcast.
Seven years later, it's easy to say that the predictions around this draft were overblown, even if it's a story that's still being written.
The greatest evidence of this lies with the best player taken in the draft — second-round pick Nikola Jokic. Jokic was the No. 41 overall pick and is now a two-time NBA MVP, made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in 2023 and is already considered one of the greatest centers in NBA history. Another center from that same draft class, Joel Embiid, was named NBA MVP for the first time in 2023.
11. Bulls Lock Dynasty Into Place (1987)
No. 1 overall selection: David Robinson, center, San Antonio Spurs (Navy)
Hall of Famers: David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, Sarunas Marciulonis
Other notable selections: Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Mark Jackson, Reggie Lewis, Kenny Smith, Muggsy Bogues
Rookie of the Year: Mark Jackson, point guard, New York Knicks
New No. 1 pick: Pippen
Bottom Line: 1987 NBA Draft
The San Antonio Spurs showed that patience will always be the most important virtue when they drafted David Robinson No. 1 overall, then waited two years for him as he honored his commitment to the U.S. Navy.
While Robinson became one of four Hall of Famers out of the 1987 class, the real star would be Scottie Pippen, a soft-spoken forward out of tiny Central Arkansas who was picked by the Seattle SuperSonics and traded right off to the Chicago Bulls, where he went on to win six NBA championships. The Bulls also picked Horace Grant, another cornerstone of their dynasty.
That's not even to mention the third Hall of Famer taken in the first round – Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller.
10. Two Players Who Changed the Game (2009)
No. 1 overall selection: Blake Griffin, power forward, Los Angeles Clippers (Oklahoma)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Stephen Curry, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Patrick Beverly, Jeff Teague, Danny Green
Rookie of the Year: Tyreke Evans, guard, Sacramento Kings
New No. 1 pick: Curry
Bottom Line: 2009 NBA Draft
There is no way anyone watching the 2009 NBA draft could have anticipated how it would change the league over the next decade thanks to two players — No. 7 overall pick Stephen Curry and No. 3 overall pick James Harden.
Curry, who is one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, won two NBA MVP awards and three NBA championships for the Golden State Warriors in his first decade in the league. He added another NBA title in 2022.
Harden is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2012 and NBA MVP in 2018. He's led the NBA in scoring three times and averages over 25 points per game for his career.
9. Four Franchise Cornerstones (1965)
No. 1 overall selection: Fred Hetzel, forward/center, San Francisco Warriors (Davidson)
Hall of Famers: Bill Bradley, Rick Barry, Gail Goodrich, Billy Cunningham
Other notable selections: Jerry Sloan, Dick Van Arsdale, Tom Van Arsdale, Flynn Robinson, Jon McGlocklin, Bob Love
Rookie of the Year: Rick Barry, forward, San Francisco Warriors
New No. 1 pick: Barry
Bottom Line: 1965 NBA Draft
The 1965 NBA draft had one of the best pound-for-pound first rounds ever. Four Hall of Famers and four more players were All-Stars and made at least one All-NBA team.
One unique statistic about the Hall of Famers is that they led four different franchises to NBA championships — Rick Barry (Golden State Warriors), Bill Bradley (New York Knicks), Gail Goodrich (Los Angeles Lakers) and Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia 76ers).
No one was more talented (and despised) than the 6-foot-7 Barry. While many players claim to have created the point-forward position, don't listen to them. It was the enigmatic Barry.
8. Big O and The Logo (1960)
No. 1 overall selection: Oscar Robertson, point guard, Cincinnati Royals (Cincinnati)
Hall of Famers: Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, Tom Sanders, Al Attles
Other notable selections: Darrall Imhoff, Lee Shaffer, Jackie Moreland
Rookie of the Year: Oscar Robertson
New No. 1 pick: Still The Big O
Bottom Line: 1960 NBA Draft
Two of the greatest players in NBA history went back-to-back in the 1960 NBA draft with Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Royals) and West Virginia's Jerry West (West Virginia), the man who became the silhouette for the NBA's logo.
Robertson was the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double — and the last until Russell Westbrook 55 years later. West changed the trajectory of the NBA, first as a player for the Lakers, then as the team's general manager, helping put the teams together for the "Showtime" dynasty and the Kobe-Phil-Shaq dynasty.
There was depth to the draft as well. Three more Hall of Famers were picked with Lenny Wilkens, Tom Sanders and Al Attles.
7. You Don't Want to Fight These Dudes (1985)
No. 1 overall selection: Patrick Ewing, center, New York Knicks (Georgetown)
Hall of Famers: Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, Joe Dumars, Arvydas Sabonis
Other notable selections: Charles Oakley, Detlef Schrempf, Xavier McDaniel, A.C. Green, Terry Porter, Tyrone Corbin, Hot Rod Williams, Gerald Wilkins, Spud Webb, Mario Elie
Rookie of the Year: Patrick Ewing
New No. 1 pick: Malone
Bottom Line: 1985 NBA Draft
The 1984 NBA draft casts such a big shadow that we forget how phenomenal the 1985 draft class was. It featured five future Hall of Famers with Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, Joe Dumars and Arvydas Sabonis.
Beyond that, the draft has a stunning amount of depth with NBA mainstays Charles Oakley, Detlef Schrempf, Xavier McDaniel, A.C. Green, Terry Porter and Mario Elie leading the way.
What hangs over this class, unfortunately, is that aside from Dumars most of those players could never find their way onto teams that won NBA championships.
6. How Many Championship Rings? (1956)
No. 1 overall selection: Sihugo Green, guard/forward, Rochester Royals (Duquesne)
Hall of Famers: Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Elgin Baylor
Other notable selections: Willie Naulls
Rookie of the Year: Tom Heinsohn, forward, Boston Celtics
New No. 1 pick: Russell
Bottom Line: 1956 NBA Draft
The four Hall of Famers selected in the 1956 NBA draft can match up with any four Hall of Famers picked in any single draft: Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Tommy Heinsohn and K.C. Jones.
If you're counting rings, that group of four players ended up with 36 NBA championships between them — Russell, Heinsohn and Jones all won titles as players and coaches with the Boston Celtics.
Russell's draft story contains the boldest trade in NBA history and involved the Ice Capades and eventually forced a franchise to leave its city.
5. The Draft That Surprised Everyone (2011)
No. 1 overall selection: Kyrie Irving, guard, Cleveland Cavaliers (Duke)
Hall of Famers: N/A
Other notable selections: Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Reggie Jackson, Tristan Thompson
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving
New No. 1 pick: Leonard
Bottom Line: 2011 NBA Draft
What an amazing draft.
If you're looking to start a heated basketball debate amongst friends, pull up the 2011 NBA draft and try to guess how many Hall of Famers it will produce.
If you're asking us, we think at least three, maybe four, will get the call. No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard seem like locks already. Three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson also seems like a Hall of Famer. Five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, the final pick of the first round, now seems like a surefire Hall of Famer as well.
4. Pistol Pete and Smokin' Bob (1970)
No. 1 overall selection: Bob Lanier, center, Detroit Pistons (St. Bonaventure)
Hall of Famers: Bob Lanier, Pete Maravich, Dave Cowens, Calvin Murphy, Nate Archibald, Dan Issel, Charlie Scott, Rudy Tomjanovich
Other notable selections: Sam Lacey, John Johnson, Geoff Petrie, Randy Smith
Rookie of the Year: Dave Cowens, forward/center, Boston Celtics; Geoff Petrie, guard, Portland Trail Blazers
New No. 1 pick: Cowens
Bottom Line: 1970 NBA Draft
It's hard to imagine another draft ever matching the record eight Hall of Famers who were selected in 1970, led by No. 1 overall pick Bob Lanier, a player known as much for his talent as for smoking cigarettes in the locker room at halftime.
The first four picks of the 1970 draft ended up Hall of Famers, and seven of the first eight picks ended up making at least one All-NBA Team and were also All-Stars. The first two picks of the second round, Calvin Murphy and Nate "Tiny" Archibald, were also Hall of Famers.
While many players on this list accomplished much more on paper, it's hard to argue that The People's Champ from 1970 was No. 3 overall pick Pistol Pete Maravich, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history.
3. Four Hall of Famers in the First Round (1996)
No. 1 overall selection: Allen Iverson, guard, Philadelphia 76ers (Georgetown)
Hall of Famers: Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ben Wallace*
Other notable selections: Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephon Marbury, Antoine Walker, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Derek Fisher, Marcus Camby
Rookie of the Year: Iverson
New No. 1 pick: Kobe, obviously
Bottom Line: 1996 NBA Draft
It hasn't been until the last few seasons that the Class of 1996 may have fallen slightly behind the Class of 2003, depending who you ask, but that seems like it's splitting hairs.
Four Hall of Famers were selected in the first round in 1996 — Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, with Iverson, Bryan and Nash all winning NBA MVP honors.
The truly remarkable thing about the 1996 draft was a player who wasn't selected. NCAA Division II forward Ben Wallace came out of Virginia Union and became the fifth Hall of Famer from the rookie class.
*Wallace was not drafted.
2. How Many Hall of Famers? (2003)
No. 1 overall selection: LeBron James, guard/forward, Cleveland Cavaliers (St. Vincent-St. Mary)
Hall of Famers: Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade
Other notable selections: Carmelo Anthony Dwyane Wade, David West, Chris Kaman, Kyle Korver, Mo Williams, Kendrick Perkins
Rookie of the Year: LeBron James
New No. 1 pick: Still LeBron
Bottom Line: 2003 NBA Draft
Let us all stand back in awe of the 2003 draft class, which already has two Hall of Famers in forward Chris Bosh, who was forced to retire early because of health problems. Guard Dwyane Wade joined him in the Hall of Fame in 2023.
Ultimately, the 2003 class will see four of its first five picks enter the Hall of Fame — No. 1 pick LeBron James and No. 3 pick Carmelo Anthony are sure to be inducted as well.
But not No. 2 pick Darko Milicic. He ain't getting in.
1. Simply the Best (1984)
No. 1 overall selection: Hakeem Olajuwon, center, Houston Rockets (Houston)
Hall of Famers: Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Oscar Schmidt
Other notable selections: Alvin Robertson, Kevin Willis, Otis Thorpe, Sam Perkins, Vern Fleming, Michael Cage
Rookie of the Year: Jordan
New No. 1 pick: Jordan
Bottom Line: 1984 NBA Draft
The argument you always hear for why the 1984 NBA draft is the greatest draft of all time — maybe in all of professional sports — is that no matter what, the Houston Rockets would have still taken Hakeem Olajuwon No. 1 overall.
That's ridiculous, and shouldn't be taken as disparaging Olajuwon, who is one of the greatest centers of all time. Saying the Rockets would still take him over Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, is just dumb.
The draft wasn't just Olajuwon and Jordan, either. Three more Hall of Famers were picked after that — Charles Barkley, John Stockton and international star Oscar Schmidt, who never played in the NBA.