"The people who went in '96 are among the best to ever play the game."— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 6, 2021
Ready or Not: The ’96 NBA Draft // Sunday @ 8pm ET on NBA TV pic.twitter.com/8mShOfQZTr
This came out last week and I’ve really just been thinking about it since then and decided I needed to dip the virtual pen on this. I think there are 4 draft classes that are the clear cut best. 1984, 1985, 1996 and 2003. That’s the top 4, no question. But which was the best?
While I think these are the best 4 classes I think 1985 is clearly at 4. That’s not a knock at all. This class had 25 guys play at least 10 years in the league and 66 to play in the NBA. Some MASSIVE names are in this draft, to name a few; Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Joe Dumars, Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf, Spud Webb, Charles Oakley, A.C. Green and Manute Bol.
If I didn’t name your favorite player here don’t kill me I can’t list out 60 guys names. 10 guys were All Stars out of this class and there’s an MVP or two floating in there as well. Hall of famer up and down the list.
At third I have the 1984 class. The 80s just produced great players. Don’t sleep on the 1987 class either. The 1984 class had some all time greats that’s why it’s above 1985 but all it had was a few greats unlike 1996 and 2003. 58 guys ended up playing NBA minutes and 17 played at least 10 years in the league with 7 making All Star games. I mean Michael Jordan, the GOAT, was drafted in 1984 that alone gets you in the Top 10. Having Hakeem, Barkley, Stockton gets you top 3 though. There’s more names to list but that’s the big 4 and what more do you need? Absolutely wild Utah landed Stockton and Malone in back to back drafts. MVPs and championships left and right, plus the greatest player to ever lace them up? That’s what the fuck I’m talking about.
This will give away who number 1 is but with the second best draft class of all time I have 2003. One of the best top 5 picks of all time, well 4 of them anyway. Lebron, Melo, Bosh and Wade. 4 first ballot hall of famers. Depending on who you are Lebron is somewhere 1-3 all time for you and if he’s not your opinion doesn’t matter. Those are 4 guys who need no introduction so I’ll throw some classmates names at you. Kirk Hinrich, Chris Kaman, Mickaël Piétrus, Luke Ridnour, David West, Boris Diaw, Sasha Pavlocić, Dahntay Jones, Kendrick Perkins, I mean the list just goes on and on, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard THATS JUST THE FIRST ROUND. Luke Walton, James Jones, Kyle Korver, there’s more I could name but we’d be here all day. Out of all those guys there’s rings, MVPs, scoring titles you want it they got it. 9 All Stars and 30 guys you know because of how impactful they were. But it’s not the best class.
You want MVPs? They got em. You want scoring titles? They got em. DPOYs? Got em. Championships? They got em. To top it all off 1996 has the coolest player to ever be drafted as well, Allen Iverson. This class is as good as advertised and then some. 23 guys with 10+ years in the league, 10 All Stars, 47 people to play in an NBA game and another class where (most of) the first 5 picks are STUDS. Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Stephon Marbury and one of the best shooters to ever pick up a ball in Ray Allen. Maybe not as good as 2003s first 5 but wait till you see what we’ve got coming up. Antoine Walker, Erick Dampier, Peja Stojaković, Steve Nash, Tony Delk, Jermaine O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Derek Fisher and Ben Wallace somehow went UNDRAFTED! Don’t think I forgot about the kid who went 13th. The late great Kobe Bryant. He didn’t go first, he didn’t even go in the Top 10 but there is no ’96 class without Kobe. This is one of the deepest and THE most talented draft classes ever. End of story.
I’m a basketball fan and the storylines are ever changing. For me MJ will always be the GOAT, somethings are set in stone like that but this list isn’t. I dream of one day needing to go back and updating this list pushing 1996 to the 2 spot. I want to see with my own eyes the best draft class of all time so until then we wait and we celebrate the greatness that was 1996.