OVER the weekend my housemate and I were discussing the 2009 NBA Draft and just who made up the bulk of it. There are names we already knew like DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Blake Griffin and of course, Steph Curry. What shocked me though was to learn just how deep the class of ’09 really was. Which got me thinking that in 10ish years when these guys have all retired they could rival some of the best draft groups ever.
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THERE are a handful of NBA draft classes that have long been in the conversation as the G.O.A.T rookie bunch to enter the league. A top any good list you can find the 1984, 1996 and 2003 groups taking out the top three in any given order. Here is a list of the best four guys taken in each of those years.
- 1984: Hakeem Olajuwon (drafted #1), Michael Jordan (#3), Charles Barkley (#5), John Stockton (#16)
- 1996: Allen Iverson (#1), Ray Allen (#5), Kobe Bryant (#13), Steve Nash (#15)
- 2003: LeBron James (#1), Carmelo Anthony (#3), Chris Bosh (#4), Dwyane Wade (#5)
- 2009: Blake Griffin (#1), James Harden (#3), Stephen Curry (#7), DeMar DeRozan (#9)
I think it’s fair to make the case that all of the guys listed above are Hall of Fame calibre talents, but the depth of the drafts is what separates the good from the great.
IT’S hard to compare the numbers from retired players to guys who are just 7-9 years into their careers. All-Star nods are something that we can use with most players unlikely to break through as an All-Star after close to a decade in the NBA. When it comes to counting All-Star’s, 2009 has six guys compared to seven in ’84, 11 in ’96 and eight in ’03. That places them right on the fringe company of ultimate draft classes.
NON-lottery selections become NBA veterans also helps to divide the ultimate draft squads from the pack. The 2009 group boasts names like Jrue Holiday, Demarre Carroll, Taj Gibson, Patty Mills, James Johnson, Tyreke Evans, Danny Green and Jeff Teague, all players who aren’t superstars but are making solid contributions to their team. There are another big bunch of guys such as Wesley Matthews, Miloš Teodosić, Aron Baynes and Garrett Temple, who went undrafted and are still doing things in the NBA.
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CURRENTLY, the ’09 squad is in their ninth season with 16 players having played all nine seasons. If all 16 of those guys play next year they will almost overtake the ’84 group for players with 10 years experience (17) and be in the mix against the others (’96 had 23 and ’03 currently have 27). If over the next three or four years the ‘role players’ from the draft crop can have some famous moments and improve their own legacy then that will definitely bridge the gap between the other groups.
I could debate over numbers and stats for hours, but to put it bluntly, the class of ’09 has some work to do to dethrone their peers as the best bunch of rooks to simultaneously enter the NBA. Right now they are probably in the second tier behind the other three, but after it’s all said I see them having a real shot at the 2nd best class ever behind 1996.
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