1984. 1996. 2003. NBA fans can rattle those years off like their own birthdays. Why? Because those three years are considered to have produced the best draft classes in league history. Don’t believe us? Just take a quick look:
1984: Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton. Even others like Sam Perkins, Alvin Robertson, and Otis Thorpe had productive careers.
1996: Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash. Plenty of fans also remember Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Antoine Walker, Peja Stojakovic and even Jermaine O’Neal.
2003: Four of the first five picks tells you all you need to know. LeBron, DWade, Melo and Chris Bosh headlined the class, which featured some excellent role players like 2017 NBA Finals participants Kyle Korver, Zaza Pachulia and David West, as well as Mo Williams, Kendrick Perkins, Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa, among others.
While some recent drafts have produced a few great players, so far, none have compared to those three mentioned above. But 2017 has a shot at becoming one of the best in recent memory, and most of these prospects have been getting considerable hype for years. So why are scouts and NBA teams so high on this draft?
There Could Be A Few Players Drafted Number One
In years past, there has been a few consensus number one picks (see: Karl Anthony Towns in 2015). Not so in 2017. This draft is so loaded that at one point, 10-15 of these players were being mentioned as a number one pick. Everyone from Markelle Fultz, to Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball or even De’Aaron Fox has been mentioned at one point in time or another.
This Class Doesn’t Have As Many Weaknesses
While some of the 2017 prospects are incredibly young, many of them will still be able to contribute immediately to the teams that draft them. Josh Jackson’s athleticism could have him in one of the lottery teams’ starting lineup immediately. There’s talk of Markelle Fultz ultimately replacing Isaiah Thomas on the Celtics due to his defense and offensive ability. And we didn’t even mention Lonzo Ball’s potential, but you’ve probably already heard it from his dad Lavar.
Even The International Guys Can Be Big Contributors
Many times it takes an international player a few years to acclimate to the NBA game. Not so with some of these international stars. France’s Frank Ntilikina and Jonathan Jeanne, Germany’s Isaiah Hartenstein are expected to go high in the lottery. Hartenstein has already drawn comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis.
The Draft starts next Thursday, so grab some popcorn and get ready- it could be a fun one.