A Decade in Drafts
In about two weeks, players will begin reporting for NBA training camps. This is where teams get to see how their new players fit into the team system, and players get to carve out roles.
But one thing fans always look forward to is seeing how the rookies look. Who will be busts? Who is going to separate himself from the rest as the defining player of the class? Who will be the biggest surprise? These questions rarely get definitive answers early in the year, and it can take several years to get a good read on how history will ultimately view the class.
So as John Wall, Evan Turner, and the rest of the 2010 Draft Class get ready to take to the NBA hardwood for the first time, here’s a look back at the last 10 NBA drafts and how they ultimately fared.
2000 NBA Draft
Best Player: Kenyon Martin, New Jersey (1st overall)
Biggest Surprise: Michael Redd, Milwaukee (43rd overall)
Biggest Bust: Stromile Swift, Vancouver (2nd overall)
Recap: In what turned out to be a pretty weak draft, few players actually made names for themselves (in a good way). Martin, Mike Miller, Jamal Crawford, and Hedo Turkoglu turned into solid picks, and Redd was a nice surprise coming out of the second round. However, this class had no star players emerge and too many players like Swift, Darius Miles, and Marcus Fizer to be anything of note. Probably the weakest draft since 1991.
2001 NBA Draft
Best Player: Pau Gasol, Atlanta (3rd overall)
Biggest Surprise: Gilbert Arenas, Golden State (31st overall)
Biggest Bust: Kwame Brown, Washington (1st overall)
Recap: A surprising amount of talent from this crop emerged in the second half of the first round, with Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Samuel Dalembert, and Tony Parker going after pick No. 15 and Arenas and Mehmet Okur lasting until the second round. Gasol, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, and Richard Jefferson were the primary punch in the beginning of the draft. The first round still found itself littered with wreckage (Eddie Griffin, Rodney White, Kedrick Brown, and of course, Kwame), but it churned out a nice
2002 NBA Draft
Best Player: Yao Ming, Houston (1st overall); Amar’e Stoudemire, Phoenix (9th overall)
Biggest Surprise: Carlos Boozer, Cleveland (35th overall); Luis Scola, San Antonio (56th overall)
Biggest Bust: Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Denver (5th overall)
Recap: This class boasts Yao and Stoudemire as its star talent, Boozer and Scola as its diamonds in the rough, and Caron Butler and Nene thrown in for good measure. But after that, it’s pretty much downhill. Jay Williams crashed his motorcycle after his rookie season, ending his career. Meanwhile, Tskitishvili was a bust from Day One, and many others from this class followed suit. This class ultimately saw a lot of potential go unfulfilled.
2003 NBA Draft
Best Player: LeBron James, Cleveland (1st overall); Dwyane Wade, Miami (5th overall)
Biggest Surprise: Mo Williams, Utah (47th overall)
Biggest Bust: Darko Milicic, Detroit (2nd overall)
Recap: Mentioned alongside 1996 and 1984 as the best draft classes in NBA history, it featured James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh as premier talent and players like Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, Luke Ridnour, Mickael Pietrus, David West, Josh Howard, Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, and Williams as solid contributors. There was a hiccup named Darko, but let’s not allow that to sully what is otherwise a once-in-a-generation draft class.
2004 NBA Draft
Best Player: Dwight Howard, Orlando (1st overall)
Biggest Surprise: Kevin Martin, Sacramento (26th overall)
Biggest Bust: Rafael Araujo, Toronto (8th overall)
Recap: It didn’t have the same luster as 2003, but 2004 was far from a bust. Howard, Andre Iguodala, Ben Gordon, Al Jefferson, and Josh Smith have all established themselves as upper-level players, and Emeka Okafor, Devin Harris, Luol Deng, Jameer Nelson, Andris Biedrins, and Kevin Martin aren’t exactly slouches either. Only had three real busts in the top ten picks, and one of those was due to Shaun Livingston’s gruesome knee injury in 2007. Overall, a solid draft class with few mistakes.
2005 NBA Draft
Best Player: Deron Williams, Utah (3rd overall); Chris Paul, New Orleans (4th overall)
Biggest Surprise: David Lee, New York (30th overall); Monta Ellis, Golden State (40th overall)
Biggest Bust: Ike Diogu, Golden State (9th overall)
Recap: There were a bunch of role players to be had after the first few picks went. Paul, Williams, Andrew Bogut, and Danny Granger were the cream of the crop, with Lee, Ellis, Raymond Felton and Andrew Bynum manning the second tier. However, a talent vacuum opened up in the middle of the first round as bust after bust was selected. If it weren’t for Paul and Williams, this class would be hovering around the 2000 class for disappointment.
2006 NBA Draft
Best Player: Brandon Roy, Minnesota (6th overall); Rajon Rondo, Phoenix (21st overall)
Biggest Surprise: Paul Millsap, Utah (47th overall)
Biggest Bust: Adam Morrison, Charlotte (3rd overall); Saer Sene, Seattle (10th overall)
Recap: Roy, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rondo, Millsap and Andrea Bargnani. Those are the only names of note from this ridiculously scant draft class. Maybe a few players will prove to be late bloomers, but most have already made their way out of the league or are in the process of being given the boot. Not a good year to have a lottery pick.
2007 NBA Draft
Best Player: Kevin Durant, Seattle (2nd overall)
Biggest Surprise: Marc Gasol, LA Lakers (48th overall)
Biggest Bust: Brandan Wright, Golden State (8th overall)
Recap: This was the Oden-Durant Draft and was supposed to go down as having the most talent at Nos. 1 and 2 since 1992 with Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. It still may, but for now, it’s Durant by a landslide. Greg Oden has spent most of his young career rehabbing injuries, leaving the burden of keeping this class from collapsing into oblivion on Durant’s shoulders. Gasol has played well since coming stateside, while Al Horford and Joakim Noah have been good, but other than for Durant, no one will remember this draft class.
2008 NBA Draft
Best Player: Derrick Rose, Chicago (1st overall)
Biggest Surprise: George Hill, San Antonio (26th overall); Goran Dragic, San Antonio (45nd overall)
Biggest Bust: Joe Alexander, Milwaukee (8th overall)
Recap: This class is just starting to tap its potential. Rose has been outstanding and is getting better, and O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez, and Eric Gordon have shown glimpses of All Star play as well. Robin Lopez, Jerryd Bayless, Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert, Hill, and Dragic have some work to put in, but if they can reach their full potentials, this will be a special class.
2009 NBA Draft
Best Player: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento (4th overall)
Biggest Surprise: Darren Collison, New Orleans (21st overall)
Biggest Bust: Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis (2nd overall)
Recap: They’ve been in the league for only a year now, but this has all the makings of one of the greatest point guard crops in NBA history. Evans, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Collison, Jonny Flynn, Ty Lawson, Rodrigue Beaubois and Jrue Holiday have all shown the ability to play at a high level, and Ricky Rubio could be joining them soon. Couple that with James Harden, Terrence Williams, a healthy Blake Griffin, and a few second-round steals (DeJuan Blair, Chase Budinger, Marcus Thornton) and you have one heck of a solid draft class.
By: Eric Lorenz
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