NBA / Mar 23, 2010 / 2:00 pm

The 2009 Draft Class Could Go Down As The Best Ever

Blake Griffin (photo. Nicky Woo)

Your immediate reaction after reading the title is “absolutely not,” and as of right now, it’s the right one. In fact, how can anyone compete with a ’96 lineup of Kobe, A.I., Ray Allen and Steve Nash or a ’03 lineup of LeBron, D-Wade, ‘Melo and Chris Bosh. Although we’ve seen how well Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and Darren Collison have played so far, it’s doubtful that any of them will be Hall of Famers. Still, my friend over at NYKBlog makes a very compelling case about the potential of this year’s draft as the best ever. The argument comes down to this: Would your rather have four Hall of Famers and a big drop off after that, or 20 guys who can be All-Stars and good role players for a long time?

Forget about star power for a second. I understand there will never be a draft that has 4 superstars in the 1st 5 picks. But you have to see past that with this years group. This draft will make the league better all around for a decade. Teams are going to become deeper because of the excess talent. There are so many rookies making an impact that almost every team has one. This class holds its own against the 2003 draft and the 1996 draft classes without its best player and #1 pick. Its 2nd pick is a bust and the 2nd best player (potentially) is overseas. The fact that I can even make an argument for this year’s class with all these missing pieces says it all. It’s about depth. And no draft comes close in that regard.

Besides the four standouts so far from this year’s Draft, there are guys making big impacts on playoff contenders, as well as contributing nicely for bad teams. These are guys like Jonny Flynn, DeJuan Blair, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, Omri Casspi, Rodrigue Beaubois, Jonas Jerebko, Marcus Thornton, Jrue Holiday, Chase Budinger, Taj Gibson, Jordan Hill, Terrence Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, Austin Daye and Toney Douglas.

When I first read the article I wasn’t convinced. As a diehard Fantasy Basketball player, though, I put this year’s class to a test I conceived for this article: How many rookies are currently on Fantasy rosters? This test isn’t decisive, but it’s a good indication not only that the guy is playing big minutes for his team, but that if the NBA consisted of only 12 teams of 13 players, rookies would make the rosters. Using this rubric, I don’t remember seeing so many rookies’ on rosters this late in the season. And remember, Blake Griffin or Ricky Rubio haven’t even played a game.

Of course, we see four Hall of Famers in a Draft Class and think it is impossible to top, but in both fantasy and reality, the most stacked teams don’t always win (the most recent example being the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers). If one considers depth over talent, the Draft Class question becomes much more difficult.

Entering this season, Chris Paul was pretty much the consensus No. 1 point guard in the League. And now? Rumors are floating that Paul (and his contract) are dispensable in light of rookie Collison’s play. A few weeks ago, we questioned whether Paul was truly great or if it was the system he was playing in. Either way, Collison has proved to be a sure starter, and he’s not even the best player in the Draft.

Do you think this class has the potential to be the best ever or one of the best ever? Has this class exceeded all expectations?

Other Articles About 2009 Rookies:
NBA Sophomore Class vs. The Rookies: Who’s Better?
Tyreke Evans Is In A Class Of His Own (Even Better Than LeBron)
Brandon Jennings Will Protect This House

Follow Adam on Twitter at @FloBombin.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

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  • wil-tec

    this class is deep yes… can’t say best ever yet. we need to see how everything pans out in a few years.


  • Gunner J. Matthews

    I think the problem with the 2009 draft is its guard heavy. About 70%-80% of those guys you named are proly 6’8 or less. Plus the talent level between the guards and everyother position is uneven. I wouldnt consider it an all-time class maybe because the bigs arent doing much or this year wasnt a good year to be drafted as a bigman. But, yeah it’s still too early to make judgements

  • http://www.worldstarhiphop.com da real

    If Thabeet became a beast and Rubio and Griffin become All-Stars too, this will be a top-3 all-time draft class

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    I never expected the 2009 draft class to be as deep and talented as well as perform at the level that they have. I think this goes to show what a young man’s league the NBA is becoming. Young players are more polished and mature than ever. It will not be long until 30 is the new 40.

  • ab_40

    come on you said the same thing about last year with mayo, rose, lopez, and beasley. get real. don’t start these dumb arguments when their first season isn’t even over.

  • phong

    I know I’m starting to get old. No one mentions the draft class from 1984?

  • http://dimemag.com/author/adam/ Adam Flomenbaum

    @ab_40 – you’re absolutely right – 2008 may be even better, but as rookies they didn’t contribute nearly as much as this class, but immediate contribution must count for something – i’m just asking how much.

    @Spliff – watching the draft I was thinking the same thing and it’s probably been the most surprising thing of the season (which is in the original NYKBlog post) that the rookies have been so good – they’re proving to have big staying power on teams, and the later picks may be even more surprising than the earlier ones.

  • RC

    2003 Draft
    David West
    Mo Williams
    Kendrick Perkins

    Hakeem the Dream
    Michael Jordan
    Charles Barkley
    John Stockton

  • http://bt.davka.info/ SparkyJ23

    Every year there are 10 all stars but there is not 4 hall of famers.

    i’ll take ’84, ’96 and ’03 thanks

    come back to me in 5 or 6 years when this arguement is worth having….

  • s.e.

    It’s way too early to make these predictions. How can we be saying that Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans aren’t HOF-caliber when they haven’t even finished their rookie seasons? Even a guy like Curry could end up being a Reggie Miller-type player – unlikely, but strangers things have happened. Second, Darren Collison is nice, but it’s ridiculous to say Chris Paul should be losing any sleep. That team is garbage without Paul…Collison could be a good trade chip in the future.

  • http://dimemag.com/author/adam/ Adam Flomenbaum

    @ phong – 1984 was not forgotten – Hakeem, Mike, Charles, and Stockton – 4 top 30 guys all time is hard to beat but look at the rest of the draft and who else is memorable? Sam Perkins/Alvin Robertson? I’ll give them to you but look at the rest of the class. Again, the argument comes down to measuring a class by the top 4 or 5 players or the depth of the entire draft – Imagine you’re playing a 30 on 30 – either way, I want the #25 pick from 1984, Devin Durrant, for comedic purposes.

  • Godot

    anyone know how rubio is doing over there?

  • Twon

    i got 84 & 03….03 is still Powerful this Decade

  • http://dimemag.com/author/adam/ Adam Flomenbaum

    @Godot – he’s playing on ESPN360 right now if you wanna check him out in the Euroleague playoffs

  • Chaos

    its a debate because its still too early to tell.
    this is the deepest pg draft. evans, jennings, curry, flynn, collison, lawson, maynor and holiday will all probably start on playoff team eventually and they all maybe all stars one day. thabeet will prolly relaize his potential, blair will turn into a beast if he is learning from duncan like duncan learned from robinson, terrance williams will put it together (hopefully) and be matrix, g. wallace v2 because of his overall skills and athleticsm, harden will be an allstar sg one day and thronton, beabois, casspi and douglas will get buckets on the regular. we need to see how griffin comes back from injury, rubio will suck, Daye, gibson and hansbrough will peak to about 16/8 guys who are solid. i think the khorses in this draft will be budinger and hill because they have talent and will develop under adelman. but yea this is speculation but this class has load of potential

  • da_griff

    Too many “IF’s” for this to be a great draft. With the other two drafts mentioned everyone knew right away that they were going to be awesome drafts.


    i would jus like to say…i said this draft class was good…when every1 else was saying this is one of the worst ever…it jus shows that u have to wait til they play before you can say how good they are…

  • pen15burg


  • Dirtball Rotten

    dont fall into the trap that every old person always says.. “nothing will ever beat….” trust me when i say that this article is right on 100%, we didnt know Wade would be Wade, and Bosh would be 20-10… remember that draft was about lebron and melo, and this draft can produce the same type of players that 4 years from now we will be gushing over them as well…

    dont hate too soon on this article/draft class.. we not even 1 year in!!!

  • Ian

    hey i can get one awesome starting 5 from 87

    david robinson
    horace grant
    scottie pippe
    reggie miller
    kevin johnson

    6th man

    mark jackson

    that team can play any team from any draft

  • Ian

    84 gets


    6th man

    03 gets


    6th man


    if we are going by how we think they are goin to play together not just names 03 would get beaten by 84 and 87 imo

  • Ian

    96 team has antoine walker so that disqualifies them

  • Godot

    @ Adam – Thanks, but I’m not american enough to get any ESPN feeds.

  • http://NYKBlog Joey

    Purely from a depth standpoint, this years rooks can compete with any class. In terms of superstars, it’d be hard to beat 03 or 84.

  • TJ

    Chris Bosh is NOT a Hall of Famer.

  • cdubb

    96 Draft

    H.o.F. caliber players:


    Perennial All-Stars / All-Star caliber guys:

    Antoine Walker
    Peja Stojakovic
    Jermaine O´Neill
    Shareef Abdur-Rahim

    Guys who fit in nicely on playoff teams / solid role players:

    Tony Delk
    Big Z Ilgauskas
    Derek Fisher
    Junkyard dogg Williams
    Othella Harrington
    Kerry Kittles
    Lorenzen Wright
    Malik Rose

    And I could even go on with this list. Don´t tell me DIME, theres gonna be another draft like the 96 class. There was just so much talent around in this class. Now this is what I call LOADED. Ain´t no other class f*ckin with the 96 squad besides maybe the jordan class of 84.

  • http://twitter.com/therealknowbody Bino Brogden

    I think the 2004 class can be this bunch’s ceiling. A ceiling they can possibly break like a popped rubber. However, I think 2009 class would have trouble with the 2004 class. Alone. And 2004 was solid but not spectacular.

    Okafur, Howard, Ben Gordon, Livingston, Devin Harris, Deng, Iggy, Biedrins, Big Al, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Dorell Wright, Jameer, Delonte, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin, Beno Udrih, Andy Varajeao, Nocioni, D Wilkins and Trevor Ariza.

    3 All Stars, 3 Champs, 11 Starters

  • CB4

    UMMMM 1984, end of discussion. Evans could turn out to be lebron but he will never be jordan.

  • Ahan

    While my favorite class is the ’03 draft, and as a Lakers fan love the 13th pick from the ’96 draft the ’84 draft is still the best hands down. Want the facts? 4 HOFamers Olajuwon, MJ, Sir Charles, and Stockton. 8 rings, 7 MVPs, and 47 all-star games between just the 4. ALL time Point leaders – MJ#3, Hakeem #8, Barkley #18. All Time Rebounds – Hakeem #11 Barkley #16. All Time Assist – #1 John Stockton. All time Steals – Stockton #1, Jordan #2, Hakeem #8, Barkely #18. All Time Blocks Hakeem #1. How can you beat that? Potentially only the class of ’03 can pass them (with Lebron doing most of the work). Class of ’09 seems great but I don’t think they will come close to class of ’96 which is 3rd on my list.

  • Heckler

    talent wise, nothing tops the 1996 draft.
    all other drafts were “top heavy”. off the top of my head 1996 had:

    allen iverson
    marcus camby
    shareef abdur rahim
    ray allen
    steph marbury
    jermaine oneal
    steve nash
    kobe bryant
    antoine walker
    kerry kittle
    big z
    and i think even ben wallace

  • Captain Awesome

    2004 class is better than 2009