The 2003 NBA Draft has already been considered one of the best of all time.
Seemingly able to see into the future, four of the first five picks of the draft are well on their way to earning a spot in the Hall of Fame, as the Cleveland Cavaliers took LeBron James first overall, the Denver Nuggets selected Carmelo Anthony third, the Toronto Raptors called Chris Bosh’s name fourth and the Miami Heat took Dwyane Wade with the fifth pick.
To the dismay of Detroit Pistons fans everywhere, they selected Darko Milicic, one of the biggest busts in the history of the draft with the No. 2 pick. But, as a whole, a number of other serviceable players were taken in 2003. Some of those names included Chris Kaman (6th), Kirk Hinrich (7th), Mickael Pietrous (11th), Nick Collison (12th), Luke Ridnour (14th), David West (19th), Boris Diaw (21st), Kendrick Perkins (27th) Leandro Barbosa (28th), Jason Kapono (31st), Luke Walton (32nd), Zaza Pachulia (42nd), Mo Williams (47th) and Kyle Korver (51st).
In an interview with Mallory Chin of hypebeast.com, LeBron believes that two drafts beat his.
“We are not the best; we are right up there. You know you obviously got the ’96 draft; you got the ’84 draft that’s right up there. So for us to even be mentioned as one of the greatest drafts that the NBA has ever seen is an honor,” James said.
The 1996 Draft has also been considered one of the best ever. Allen Iverson was taken first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers while other Hall of Fame talents like Ray Allen (5th), Kobe Bryant (13th), and Steve Nash (15th) were also drafted. Other players who enjoyed productive years in the NBA from that class were Marcus Camby (2nd), Stephon Marbury (4th), Antoine Walker (6th), Kerry Kittles (8th), Peja Stojakovic (14th), Jermaine O’Neal (17th), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (20th) and Derek Fisher (24th).
Therefore, while four of the first five picks in the draft weren’t Hall of Fame level talent like in 2003, there was arguably more overall talent in 1996.
The 1984 Draft included four Hall of Famers. Hakeem Olajuwon (1st overall), Michael Jordan (3rd), Charles Barkley (5th) and John Stockton (16th) heard their names called, thus making the class one of the best ever as well.
While it’s debatable which of the three classes was better overall, it was stunning to see how clear-cut the upper-echelon talent was in the 2003 draft as James, Anthony, Bosh and Wade were graded properly.
It was very interesting to hear that LeBron currently grades the other two above his own. However, he may change his tune after he and his buddies retire and reflect on what should go down as incredible and historic careers.