The 2018 NBA Draft class featured big-time names from big-time colleges, like Marvin Bagley, Deandre Ayton, and Trae Young. So far, a 19-year-old kid from Slovenia by the name of Luka Doncic has outperformed them.
To get a true evaluation of a class, one must take into account how many NBA superstars emerged from it. Also, how many players were integral pieces to a championship team. Finally, there are the other intangible factors to help sort through this assessment.
Now, let’s take a look back and rank the best NBA draft classes in the last 15 years.
5) 2012-13 Draft
With names like Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and Draymond Green headlining this class, 2012 was special.
Lillard went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award while Anthony Davis is always a MVP candidate.
Meanwhile, Green—despite the animosity garnered by NBA fans as well as players around the league—has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the NBA. He is the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors dynasty.
Lillard, Davis, and Green have all developed into NBA stars with each player having incredible playoff moments.
Lillard’s game-winner against Houston in the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals allowed the Trail Blazers to advance to the next round. AD’s 33 point/18 rebound performance last postseason against the Warriors was one of the best stat lines by a big in recent memory. Lest we forget Draymond Green’s three NBA championship rings in the last four years.
4) 2008-09 Draft
Two UCLA products, a sharp-shooter, and a mythical phoenix-type player would headline the ’08 draft class.
Russell Westbrook is a MVP and triple double machine these days. He was the second player ever to average a triple double. The other UCLA player, Kevin Love, was a double double machine to start his career. He would go on to be a key player for the Cavs as they won the franchise’s first ever championship.
Eric Gordon, meanwhile, has developed into one of the best three-point shooters in the league. He is providing James Harden and the Houston Rockets some potent firepower as a main stay in the Rockets’ lineup.
Regarding that “mythical phoenix” comment, Derrick Rose has truly risen from the injury-filled ashes of his career.
While he has won both a ROY and MVP award, Rose’s superstar career would come to a screeching halt due to multiple season-ending injuries. Rose has now become one of the best story lines of the 2018-19 season. He has turned back the clock a bit as he averages over 18 points a game.
Rose is one of the leaders on a young Minnesota Timberwolves team. He could add another trophy to his collection. This time as a Sixth Man of the Year recipient.
3) 2009-10 Draft
This draft holds three consecutive MVP winners, if you include Steph Curry’s back-to-back MVP Awards in 2015 and 2016. In fact, Curry is carrying this class with three rings as well.
Even if we disregard the legendary, ongoing career of Curry, the ’09 draft class is still one to marvel at. James Harden is the reigning MVP and is currently making a strong case for yet another back-to-back MVP Award winner in this draft class.
Harden led his Rockets to one win shy of dethroning Curry’s Warriors as Western Conference Champions last season.
Meanwhile, Blake Griffin—the number one overall pick in the 2009 draft—brought some allure to the Los Angeles Clippers. They stepped out of the shadows a bit as he won ROY and turned into an All-Star. Griffin, along with Chris Paul, remain the last team to defeat the Dubs in the Western Conference.
2) 2011-12 Draft
When a draft class consists of one of the top three current point guards in the league, a historic sharpshooter, and one of the best two-way players in recent history, that alone solidifies how incredibly talented a draft class was.
Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard alone account for four NBA Finals appearances. In fact, if you add in Klay Thompson, the trio have a total of eight NBA Finals appearances between them. Not only are Kyrie, Kawhi, and Klay considered to be three of the top ten current NBA players. The numbers speak for themselves.
1) 2003-04 Draft
Dwyane Wade. Carmelo Anthony. Chris Bosh. LeBron James. They alone make a valid argument for why this class is one of the greatest of all-time. With a total of eight NBA championships and over 48 All-Star appearances between them, there is no doubt the ’03 draft class is the preeminent class over the last 15 years. If there is any more doubt in your head as to why this draft class is the greatest, there were at least five future Hall of Fame players drafted in 2003.