Most of the best draft classes seem to have the ability to simultaneously take over the league from their predecessors and prevent the younger classes from pushing them from the top.
Two NBA Finals' MVPs
The class of ’98, who had to wait until January ’99 to start their lockout-shortened rookie year, did pretty well for themselves and did not peak until their 11th year. The average class peaks around their 6th or 7th season, then the younger classes start to take over. Once you get past one of the worst number one picks in NBA history, Michael Olowokandi, it was a really good draft. Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis were all drafted that year; and there were at least 5 or 6 more good players drafted in 1998.
And With The Third Pick...
Class of ’84: Jordan, Olajuwon, Barkley, and Stockton: The greatest player; a top 2 or 3 center; an undersized, versatile, rebounding machine, all-time great power forward; and the NBA’s all-time leader in steals and assists. Don’t be fooled by the top heaviness; there were some other good players in this draft: Big Smooth Sam Perkins, Steal Machine Alvin Robertson and even great coach, but not-so-great player Rick Carlisle. I don’t want to turn this into a list of the 1984 draftees, but you get the idea.
The 1992 class was very interesting: Shaq, Zo, Spree, and others were in this draft, but that’s not the interesting part – this class(as a whole) peaked after only its 3rd season.
We'll Miss You.
The class of ’96 is one of my favorites; Kobe, Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and the undrafted Ben Wallace highlight this class.
What A Class, But Where's AI?