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NBA, NBA Draft / Mar 13, 2014 / 12:00 pm

The 10 Best NBA Draft Classes Of All Time

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh (photo. David Alvarez)

The 2014 NBA Draft has seen an enormous amount of hype, if it yields anything less than three or four future stars, it will be considered a disappointment. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Julius Randle highlight a cast of talented youngsters. Assuming some of these NBA hopefuls reach their ceilings, we could be looking back at this draft class as one of the best ever.

That said, where would it fall? Does the 2014 class have the kind of talent to match previous super drafts? Does the group of draftees coming this season stack up to some of the Hall of Fame, championship-winning classes of the past?

Taking a look back at previous NBA Drafts, it’s clear the 2014 class has a long way to go if they’d like to be mentioned among the all-time greats. For some added spice we’ve included the best picture, and No. 1 single from the year of each draft.

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10. 1969
Notables: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jo Jo White, Norm Van Lier and Bob Dandridge
Best Picture: Oliver
No. 1 Single: The Archies – “Sugar, Sugar”
This wasn’t a particularly deep draft. Van Lier was a three-time All-Star and led the league in assists during the ’70-71 season. Dandridge was a four-time All-Star and was the third-best player on the Alcindor-Big O Bucks championship. He was also the second-best player on a Bullets championship squad. White was a key piece for the Celtics on the way to two championships. White was an All-Star in seven consecutive seasons, the pinnacle of his career may have come from winning the ’75-76 Finals MVP.

However as you can see the main reason for the selection of the 1969 Draft was Abdul-Jabbar. At the time, Lew Alcindor was the most sought after prospect ever. His 273.4 career win shares are the most all time–for reference, Michael Jordan collected 214 win shares over his prestigious career.

Jabbar won six championships, a record six MVPs, and appeared in a record 18 All-Star Games. On paper, I believe Jabbar has the best arguable case to be the “GOAT” over Jordan. His longevity helped him accumulate an enormous number of records: points, games, rebounds (third) and blocks (third). He matches Jordan in championships while being recognized as the league’s Most Valuable Player one more time. He is also the only player to win the Finals MVP award on two different teams. If Jabbar was the only player drafted in 1969, this draft would still be on my list.

9. 1970
Notables: Bob Lanier, Dave Cowens, Calvin Murphy, Tiny Archibald, Dan Issel, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Rudy Tomjanovich and Geoff Petrie
Best Picture: Midnight Cowboy
No. 1 Single: Simon and Garfunkel – “Bridge over Troubled Water”
A loaded class of players just under the superstar level. Lanier was a double-double machine. He had eight All-Star appearances yet never made an All-NBA team. Cowens was instrumental in two Celtic championships. He was the Celtics best player during both championship runs–no offense to Hondo or White, but never received the Finals MVP award. Cowens notched the league MVP in ’72-73 despite being bumped to the All-NBA Second Team behind Abdul-Jabbar.

Murphy, Archibald, Issel, Tomjanovich and Petrie all had varying levels of success, playing at high levels and producing some impressive stat lines–most notably, the Kentucky Colonels Issel, who started his career with three-straight 27-point, 11-rebound per game seasons.

Finally we have the Pistol. In a large part the Pistol can thank his epic nickname for being the most memorable player of this draft class. Maravich was a talented scorer, and his 31.1 points per game in ’76-77 won him the scoring title. He was a five-time All-Star and yet he only played in 26 career playoff games. He was kind of like old day T-Mac: great numbers but failed to find success in the postseason and cement his legacy.

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  • Atom

    Chris Mullin lumped in with the X-Man and Terry Porter as just “fan favorites” and “long time starters”? A few of his accomplishments show he deserves more respect then that:
    5× NBA All-Star (1989-1993)
    All-NBA First Team (1992)
    2× All-NBA Second Team (1989,1991)
    All-NBA Third Team (1990)
    2x Olympic gold medal winner
    Member of original dream team
    Inductee to Basketball Hall of Fame

    Porter and McDaniels were both good players but no comparison if you review their accomplishments.

  • Poodle232

    Kobe not as good as Jordan or Lebron in their prime? This website is a fu***ng joke and now going to get blacklisted for this unethical and defamatory marketing.

  • Anthony Robert Williams

    Kobe not as good as mj or lbj. Dude u have to be a fan and not a basketball purest. Kobe skill is 2nd to none. Add everything else he bring to the court.

  • kayell

    Five years from now the 2009 draft will be on everyones top ten with Harden, Griffin, Curry, Derozan, Danny Green, Taj Gibson and Ricki Rubio.

    There are also solid ballers in Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Patty Mills, Hansborough, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, DeJuan Blair, and Jerebko

  • Allen Marcel

    kobe in his prime may not have been as good mj in his prime but it would have been a great match up they are both far better then lbj james is good hell you could call him great freaky athletic with a pretty good basketball iq but he is far behind mj and kobe when it comes to the rest of his basketball skill set both kobe and mj were lock down defenders so dont give me lbj as the better defender while he is a good defender most his d is those chase down blocks to often dose he ask off the big match up ie saying he gonna gaurd westbrook and leaving somebody else to deal wit durant he’ll go gaurd jr smith and leave the mello assignment for somebody else and when the celtics were doing their thing he would go check rondo and leave a smaller less skilled defender to have pierce light um up for 25-30pts on the regular his outside shot is far behind and despite being the bigger player kobe and mj were far superior post players lbj also is not as good a rebounder as his size and athleticism should allow him to be kobe and mj both played with much better rebounders ie shaqu and rodman but they still got their share of boards because they got on the boards with a intensity lbj doesn’t seem to have not to mention the clutch factor lbj don’t seem to relish in those clutch moments the way mj and kobe always have being the ultimate assassins they are they truly enjoy those pressure moments in a way lbj just doesn’t seem to love as much I can make a case that durant better then lbj but that’s another argument with a closer outcome but for now let’s just not put lbj in the same class as mj in his prime and the closest thing anyone has ever seen to mj kobe bryant maybe not the most likeable guy but you can’t deny his game one of the best ever

  • Carlos

    Wow 1996 seriously? first of all 1984 MJ great perimeter defense along with john stockton, with john stockton having most steals and assist in nba history, next u have the best pound for pound forward Charles Barkley, The Dream! who has been leading the in nba centers in steals and blocked shots as well as own the offensive paint. Then finally MJ, when it comes to his position greatest of all time. 1996 era doesnt come close to the matchup? just because you have the number of all star drafts doesn’t mean u have the best class. I even believe the 2003 has surpassed the 1996 class

  • Brad Ashcroft

    1998? pierce, nowitvki, carter, lewis, jamison, stojakovich

    not all the greatest players but all allstars and pierce carter and nowitzki were all top tier talents at times

    nowitzki especially being a mvp and arguably one of the top 5 power forwards ever

  • Coach G

    Kobe fans -_- How delusional. When someone says your hero isn’t the best, you constantly state crap like no tomorrow. Chill out, the guy made his opinion but to be honest, i agree with the opinion. He isn’t like MJ who made everyone shine. Maybe he made Bynum shine since Bynum had to keep rebounding his silly misses from stupid shots. LBJ is the closest one possible to another MJ and you guys are just way too stubborn to admit that Kobe is not like MJ or LBJ

  • Django Eastwood

    They want be in the top 5 or even top 10, that class has all stars in griffin, harden , and derozan. But they don’t have any championships, mvps, or clear cut hall of famers

  • Django Eastwood

    He’s second to mj, compare the stats. Mj 5 league MVP to Kobe one. To many to list compare them

  • charnk

    Jordan is way better than Kobe or Lebron.

  • dopper0189

    What is more fun is this. Put together a team from each draft, filling all 5 positions and see what draft class team would win.

  • Corey Kennedy

    It’s possible and very likely that will change in the next 5-10 years.

  • gabe winsor

    U dumb ass ricki rubio was drafted in 2013

  • Rokas Arlauskas

    0 fucks was given

  • Baker

    Surprised the Bird Magic draft wasn’t in the top 10, without them maybe we don’t have the nba we know today

  • Daniel Chang

    Not as good as Jordan or Lebron……. Jordan i can get but Lebron…..come on man…. Lebron is the best right now but if both in their prime Kobe would destroy Lebron

  • http://www.razmatazmag.com kayell

    uh, no. Know your facts idiot