NBA Draft

You Stay Classy: Top 5 NBA Draft Classes Ever

Matt Cullen

By Matt Cullen

May 31, 2013

The NBA Draft is one of the most anticipated events on the NBA calendar. 

Year after year, teams select the best young basketball talent in hopes of selecting the next NBA Superstar. Some draft picks pan out. Some picks are busts. The same goes for each year's Draft Class.

Some Draft Classes have multiple MVP's, NBA Champions, and All-Stars, while others never lived up to their potential.

In this blog I will rank the top 5 NBA Draft Classes of all-time. The ranking is based off of how the players developed in the NBA (ex. NBA All-Stars, Hall of Famers, NBA Champions, etc.) and not the talent level coming out of college or high school.


5. 1987

The 1987 NBA Draft Class was highlighted by two players named to the NBA 50 greatest players list: David Robinson and Scottie Pippen. Robinson was named to 10 All-NBA and eight All-NBA Defensive teams. He won an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs and was named the league MVP in 1995.

Pippen was one of the best defensive players to ever play in the NBA. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive team 10-times and the All-NBA team seven times. And don’t forget those six NBA titles he won with that Jordan guy!

And we cannot forget about one the best shooters in NBA history: Reggie Miller. Miller had the NBA once boasted the record for most three-pointers in NBA history and was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Other notable draft picks: Kenny Smith, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, Mark Jackson, Reggie Lewis

4. 2003

When it is all said and done, the 2003 NBA Draft Class could go down as the greatest in history. With four potential Basketball Hall of Fame members, the 2013 Class is loaded with current NBA superstars. 

Players including LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony were each taken in 2003, making it one of the most star-studded drafts in history.

With NBA Champions, NBA MVP’s, and countless NBA All-Star appearances, the 2003 NBA Draft Class had an immense influence on the NBA. If I make this list again in 15 years, you will likely see the 2003 Class ranked much higher.

Other notable draft picks: David West, Darko Miličić, Josh Howard, Mo Williams, Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, Kirk Hinrich

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3. 1985

1985 was the first year the NBA used the lottery system to determine the NBA Draft order.

With four Basketball Hall of Fame members, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, and Joe Dumars, the 1985 NBA Draft was also deemed historic by the quality of talent taken that year.


With the four Hall of Famers, nine NBA All-Stars, and two NBA MVP awards, the 1985 makes number three on my list of All-Time NBA Draft Classes. 

Other notable draft picks: Charles Oakley, Detlef Shrempf, Xavier McDaniel, A.C. Green, Terry Porter, Manute Bol, Anthony “Spud” Webb

2. 1996

The 1996 NBA Draft Class was filled with legends, record breakers, NBA MVP’s, and much more!

Future Basketball Hall of Famer, Allen Iverson, was taken number one. Arguably one of the best shooting point guards, Iverson won the 2001 NBA MVP and was the NBA scoring leader four times.


A young high schooler named Kobe Bryant was taken with the 13th pick, and he’s done okay in his NBA career. That is if you consider five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, one-time league MVP, 13-time All-Star, two-time scoring champ, nine-time All NBA first team, nine-time All Defensive first team, and four-time All-Star game MVP just okay!

Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash was also selected in 1996, along with fellow NBA All-Star Ray Allen.

Other notable draft picks: Stephon Marbury, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O’Neal, Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Derek Fisher

1. 1984

HakeemOlajuwonNBADraftPhoto Noren TrotmanNBAEGetty Images display imageMaking number one on my list is the 1984 NBA Draft Class. Boasting four Basketball Hall of Fame members, the 1984 Class was the greatest in NBA history!

Hakeem Olajuwon was taken with the first pick, and would go on to be one of the greatest centers in the NBA. He won two NBA Championships over his career including two NBA Finals MVP’s, 1994 NBA MVP, and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Charles Barkley was taken fifth in 1984. Barkley was named league MVP in 1993 and was named to five All-NBA Teams.

John Stockton was chosen by the Utah Jazz with the 16th overall pick. Stockton is the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals. He is also a 10-time All-Star.

But what makes this Draft Class the greatest of all-time is the third overall selection that year: Michael Jordan. A six-time NBA Champion, Jordan was a six-time NBA Finals MVP, five-time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA All-Star, 10-time All NBA first team, 10-time scoring champion, nine-time All Defensive First Team, Rookie of the Year, and one of the first to have a his own brand of clothing.

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Simply put, Michael Jordan was the greatest NBA Draft selection in history!

Other notable draft picks: Sam Perkins, Alvin Robertson, Otis Thorpe, Kevin Willis, Sam Bowie, Rick Carlisle, Michael Cage