To a large degree, the 2008 draft class shaped the top tiers of today's NBA. The reputations of Derrick Rose (No. 1 overall to Chicago out of Memphis), Russell Westbrook (4, Seattle, UCLA) and Kevin Love (5, Memphis for Minnesota, UCLA) speak for themselves; so do three All-Star berths apiece and Rose's 2010-11 MVP award. But the 2008 crop brought more than just Hall of Fame potential. First-rounders Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert played in All-Star Games, and Nikola Pekovic, Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon, JaVale McGee, Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, George Hill, Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Omer Asik and Goran Dragic all have gone on to become integral rotation players.
Getty ImagesNick Laham
Following the first draft of the lottery era, the post became a menacing place after the Knicks drafted Patrick Ewing first overall, the Jazz took Karl Malone 13th and Portland went with Arvydas Sabonis in the second round. Those three went on to earn entry into the Basketball Hall of Fame along with seventh overall pick Chris Mullin (Golden State), but none of that quartet ever won a championship thanks in large part to a guy drafted a year earlier by the name of Michael Jordan. 1985 also brought the likes of Detlef Schrempf, Joe Dumars and Terry Porter into the NBA.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNoren Trotman
Five future Hall of Famers heard their name called March 23, 1970, starting with No. 1 overall pick Bob Lanier, who went to Detroit and finished up his career in Milwaukee. The Atlanta Hawks snagged "Pistol" Pete Maravich third overall, and Boston grabbed Dave Cowens a pick later. Calvin Murphy went 18th overall in the second round to San Diego, while Detroit picked up Dan Issel in the eighth round. Tiny Archibald, Rudy Tomjanovich and Geoff Petrie rounded out one of the deepest draft classes in NBA history.
NBAE/Getty ImagesDick Raphael
A handful of the NBA's shining stars that boosted the league into the international consciousness were drafted in 1987. The group included Hall of Famers David Robinson (first overall to San Antonio out of the United States Naval Academy), Scottie Pippen (fifth, Seattle for Chicago, Central Arkansas) and Reggie Miller (11th, Indiana, UCLA) as well as Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Reggie Lewis and Mark Jackson. Between them, Robinson (two) and Pippen (six) won eight NBA championships.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNathaniel S. Butler
LeBron. Dwyane. Carmelo. Bosh. Enough said, right? In addition to producing King James, his Miami Heat "Big 3" sidekicks and game-changing Carmelo Anthony, the 2003 NBA Draft also produced two-time All-Star David West and a handful of key role players, including Nick Collison, Sasha Pavlovic, Boris Diaw, Kendrick Perkins, Steve Blake, Matt Bonner and Kyle Korver. It's regarded as one of the best drafts ever in terms of top talent, but franchises who have benefited from those second-tier talents' services may argue it's not as top-heavy as it seems. Still, James (first overall to Cleveland out of high school), Anthony (third, Denver, Syracuse) and Wade (fifth, Miami, Marquette) in the same top five will always render as otherworldly.
NBAE/Getty ImagesIssac Baldizon
In terms of sheer depth, the 1996 NBA Draft crop could rank right at the top of this list. It's still a remarkable juncture of basketball development timing that Kobe Bryant (13th overall to the Lakers out of high school), Allen Iverson (first, Philadelphia, Georgetown), Ray Allen (fifth, Minnesota for Milwaukee, Connecticut), Steve Nash (15th, Phoenix, Santa Clara), Antoine Walker (sixth, Boston, Kentucky), Peja Stojakovic (Sacramento, Croatia), Stephon Marbury (fourth, Milwaukee for Minnesota, Georgia Tech) and Marcus Camby (second, Toronto, UMass) all entered the league at the same time. Bryant has gone on to have the most successful career with five championships with Los Angeles, while Iverson is regarded as one of the best players to never have claimed a title.
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The 1984 NBA Draft certainly wasn't the deepest in league history. But it did bring forth the best to ever play the game in Michael Jordan, whom Chicago drafted third overall out of North Carolina after Portland infamously thought Kentucky's Sam Bowie would be a better fit. Bowie had a respectable nine-year career, while Jordan went on to win six titles, five MVPs, first-ballot Hall of Fame entry and recognition as the greatest athlete of a generation. He makes it easy to forget that Hakeem Olajuwon (first overall to Houston out of the University of Houston) and Charles Barkley (fifth, Philadelphia, Auburn) also entered the league via the 1984 draft.