Special Report

Deepest Drafts in Sports History

Deepest draft classes in NBA history:
Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

5. 1988 NBA Draft
> Top overall pick: Danny Manning 
> Total Hall of Famers: 1
> Best player: Mitch Richmond

There were 22 players selected in the 1988 NBA Draft who played at least a decade in the league. The Clippers selected Kansas’ Danny Manning first overall, but it was Golden State’s Mitch Richmond who won Rookie of the Year and would go on to have the best career. In addition to winning Rookie of the Year, Richmond made six All-Star games and won the 2002 NBA Finals with the Lakers in the last season of his Hall of Fame career.

The 1988 draft was chock full of late round talent, with New York Knick Anthony Mason being selected in the third round. Steve Kerr was drafted 50th overall by the Suns before helping the Chicago Bulls’ 1996-1998 three-peat, and Vernon Maxwell was taken 47th by Denver before he made his way to the Houston Rockets, helping them win back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.

Source: Scott Halleran / Getty Images

4. 2009 NBA Draft
> Top overall pick: Blake Griffin
> Total Hall of Famers: N/A
> Best player: James Harden

Over a decade after the 2009 NBA Draft, many of its selections are still dominating the league. Third overall pick James Harden has earned seven All-Star nods, two scoring titles, and the 2018 NBA MVP. Seventh pick Steph Curry has won three titles with the Golden State Warriors and two MVPs of his own. Top overall pick Blake Griffin has made six All-Star teams.

Second round picks Danny Green and Patty Mills have gone on to win championships with the Spurs. Several late first round picks like DeMarre Carroll, Wayne Ellington, and Taj Gibson are still playing professionally over a decade after being drafted.

Source: Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

3. 2004 NBA Draft
> Top overall pick: Dwight Howard
> Total Hall of Famers: N/A
> Best player: Dwight Howard

The 2004 NBA Draft had players to meet any need a team had. Top overall pick Dwight Howard is still a physically dominant center, J.R. Smith and Jameer Nelson came into the league as 3-point sharpshooters, and Luol Deng and Tony Allen served as defensive stalwarts.

Two 2004 draftees — Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston — would team up to be key players off the bench for the recent Warriors dynasty that won three titles and made five Finals appearances in five seasons. Among the many players who lasted over a decade in the NBA, Beno Udrih and Trevor Ariza would also go on to help their teams, the Spurs and Lakers respectively, win championships.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

2. 2005 NBA Draft
> Top overall pick: Andrew Bogut
> Total Hall of Famers: N/A
> Best player: Chris Paul

The 2005 NBA Draft was loaded with quality players from top to bottom. Each of the top eight picks played at least a decade in the NBA. Nine-time All-Star Chris Paul has separated himself as the top player in the draft, but Andrew Bogut, Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, and Marvin Williams all put together great careers.

Several second-rounders from 2005 like C.J. Miles, Ersan Ilyasova, and three-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams are still in the NBA as of 2020. Others like Brandon Bass, Monta Ellis, Amir Johnson, and Marcin Gortat all had long productive careers, despite not being high draft picks.

Source: Flickr / Keith Allison

1. 2008 NBA Draft
> Top overall pick: Derrick Rose
> Total Hall of Famers: N/A
> Best player: Russell Westbrook

Finding a lot of quality players in the second and final round of the NBA Draft is rare, but finding multiple All-Stars is almost unheard of. Yet that’s what happened in 2008. Goran Dragic, selected 45th overall, has become one of the top-scoring point guards in the NBA, making the 2018 All-Star team. DeAndre Jordan, selected 35th, made the 2017 All-Star team averaging over 12 points and 13 rebounds per game while shooting over 71% from the floor to lead the NBA.

The top of the 2008 draft was stacked as well. Top overall pick Derrick Rose won Rookie of the Year and the 2011 MVP before facing injury issues. Fourth pick Russell Westbrook also won an MVP and fifth pick Kevin Love has made five All-Star teams.