As the 2017 NBA draft is considered to be one of the strongest of the last years, it`s a good time to look back and see which NBA draft was the best ever. The natural contenders for “the best draft ever” trophy would be the 1984 and 1996 drafts. The former included the greatest player of all time, His Airness Michael Jordan, as well as three more Hall of Famers: Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Meanwhile, the latter draft included Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen among others.
1984 is the best NBA draft ever:
No weak links
They say you`re as good as your weakest link. The 1984 draft had no weak links. Who could be considered the weakest link there exactly? Stockton, the league leader in assists and steals to this day? Or Sir Charles, who was one of the greatest rebounders of his time?
The 1996 draft had far more weaker links, especially compared to Barkley or Stockton. Nash is considered as a not-so-good version of Stockton, and a far worse defensive player. Allen Iverson is considered one of the most talented players ever, but he never fulfilled his potential. Kobe is a phenomenon, but if you consider players like Markus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, or Stephon Marbury of the 1996 draft, this one had weaker links.
1984 draft is the best even without Jordan
The 1984 draft included Olajuwon, Barkley and Stockton. Hakeem won two championships, was twice named the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, and once the finals MVP. Barkley and Stockton won the Western Conference and made it to the finals three times (combined), only to lose to His Airness.
The 84 draft players reached the NBA finals five times in the 90`s, which is considered as the league`s golden era. This era was dominated by Jordan, but if it wasn’t for him, it is fair to say that his 1984-draft buddies would have dominated and would have won more rings. Take out Jordan, and the 1984 draft is still the best draft ever.
An unprecedented star quality
Like it or not, NBA is a game of super stars. Players have a substantial impact on the game, their team, and even on their team`s squads and managerial decisions. Their egos are huge, and rightfully so, because during the money time, it`s them out there; they take the shots, and they take the blame for missed shots.
Jordan is the greatest player ever. Olajuwon, Barkley and Stockton are Hall of Famers who were THE superstars of the golden era. To this day, they are considered as one of the best in their positions. The 1984 draft had the biggest star quality ever and should be considered the best draft ever.
1996 is the best NBA draft:
Quantity over quality
Choosing the best NBA draft year shouldn`t be based on which draft had the best players but on which draft is better as a whole. The 1996 draft was the best draft as a whole since it introduced the largest amount of quality players.
Five of the first six picks were all-star players. Kobe, one of the greatest players to ever play the game, was chosen as the 13th spot. Steve Nash, another NBA legend, was chosen as the 15th spot. The 1996 was the deepest draft ever, and therefore the best draft ever.
Drafts are about talent; not careers
The NBA draft is about predicting each player’s ability. Teams make selections according to a player`s potential and talent. The best draft should be the one with the most talented – not the most successful – players.
The 1996 draft had the most talented players, including Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant, two of the most talented NBA players ever, and other huge talents like Steve Nash and Stephon Marbury.
The 1984 draft didn’t have the most talented players. Hakeem, Barkley and Stockton were superstars with huge careers, but mostly due to their characters and determination, not necessarily due to their talent. If you look at drafts by the amount of talent, it`s the 1996 that claims the top spot.
Numbers of championship rings
In sports, greatness is usually measured by titles and championship rings. Jordan is the best basketball player of our time because he won six rings, Brady is the best quarterback ever because he surpassed Montana and Bradshaw by winning his fifth Super Bowl ring, and Federer is the best tennis player ever because he has won 18 Grand Slams.
Accordingly, the 1984 draft is not the best ever. Jordan, Olajuwon, Barkley, Thorpe and Stockton have nine rings combined. 1996 players – Bryant, Allen, Walker, Stojakovic, Fisher (who was picked in the 24th spot and played a key role in few LA Lakers championships) and Ben Wallace (not drafted) – have a total of fifteen rings.
The 1984 draft can be considered as the best draft ever since it Jordan, Olajuwon, Barkley and Stockton were all huge superstars, with no “weak links” and even if you`ll take Jordan out it would still be better than other drafts. On the other hand, the 1996 draft contained the most talented players, was more competitive and featured players who won more championship rings. If given a chance (a golden fish scenario) on which team would you want to play?