Tale of Two Drafts

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It’s almost been universally accepted that the two best NBA Draft classes of our generation have come in 1996 and 2003.

The 1984 class is often viewed as the greatest of all-time. That Draft featured Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton. But, with several players continuing to compete for NBA titles – (including five players from in this year’s Finals) – the jury is still out on 1996 and 2003.

Two of the Cavaliers veteran pillars over the past few seasons – Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James – are products of the dual draft classes. LeBron was obviously tabbed with the top overall pick in 2003; Big Z at No. 20 overall in 1996.

Both classes have featured their share of booms and busts and the 1996 class featured two straight picks (Mark Hendrickson and Ryan Minor – No. 31 and 32) who had more success in baseball than basketball. And the one player that wasn’t drafted that year – Ben Wallace – has had a career that would rival most of his classmates.

LeBron’s class is still in its relative infancy, with only Dwyane Wade – among its top-tier superstars – claiming an elusive NBA Championship. And right now, many of those top-tier superstars, including Wade, are poised to possibly reshape the league in the biggest free agent bonanza the NBA has ever seen.

So while we get set for Thursday’s NBA Draft, here’s a look at two classes that have affected the league, in general, and the Cavaliers, specifically …


1996

1 - Allen Iverson - Philadelphia - 11-time All-Star, 1996 Rookie of the Year, four-time scoring champion and two-time All-Star Game MVP.

2 - Marcus Camby - Toronto - Two-time All-Defensive first team, Defensive Player of the Year in 2007

3 - Shareef Abdur-Raheem - Vancouver - 13-year veteran, won Gold Medal in 2000, All-Star in 2002.

4 - Stephon Marbury - Milwaukee - Two-time All-Star currently playing with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons in China.

5 - Ray Allen - Minnesota - Nine-time NBA All-Star, won 2008 Championship with Boston.

6 - Antoine Walker - Boston - Three-time All-Star won Championship with Heat in 2006, but since then has made as many headlines off court as on.

7 - Lorenzen Wright - L.A. Clippers

8 - Kerry Kittles - New Jersey

9 - Samaki Walker - Dallas

10 - Erick Dampier - Indiana - Drafted by the Pacers, but spent his career with both Golden State and Dallas.

12 - Vitaly Potapenko - Cleveland - Played part of three seasons in Cleveland, traded to Boston for a 1999 first rounder who turned out to be Andre Miller.

13 - Kobe Bryant - Charlotte - First guard ever drafted out of high school, immediately dealt to the Lakers for Vlade Divac. Parents had to co-sign his first contract because he was only 17.

14 - Peja Stojakovic - Sacramento - Three-time All-Star, two-time Long-Distance Shootout Champ, 2004 All-NBA Second Team.

15 - Steve Nash - Phoenix - Two-time MVP, seven-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA First Team.

17 - Jermaine O'Neal - Portland - After four years on the bench in Portland, went on to six straight All-Star appearances (2002-07) with the Pacers.

20 - Zydrunas Ilgauskas - Cleveland - After a frustrating first few years, Z went on to two All-Star appearances and is the Cavs all-time games-played leader.

24 - Derek Fisher - L.A. Lakers - Won five NBA Championships with the Lakers.

26 - Jerome Williams - Detroit

29 - Travis Knight - Chicago

30 - Othella Harrington - Houston

31 - Mark Hendrickson - Philadelphia - Also suited up for the Cavaliers during 1999-2000. One of only 12 athletes to play both sports.

30 - Moochie Norris - Milwaukee

37 - Jeff McInnis - Denver - Played for six teams in 12 NBA seasons, including 2004-05 with the Cavaliers.

44 - Malik Rose - Charlotte

54 - Shandon Anderson - Utah

56 - Reggie Geary - Cleveland

2003

1 - LeBron James - Cleveland - Two-time MVP, six-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA First Team; would likely be in the Hall of Fame if he retired tomorrow.

2 - Darko Milicic - Detroit - The only "bust" among the first seven picks, still picked up a Ring as a rookie in Detroit.

3 - Carmelo Anthony - Denver - Three-time All-Star, won Olympic gold in Bejing along with LeBron (1), Bosh (4) and Wade (5).

4 - Chris Bosh - Toronto - Five-time All-Star joins draft classmates James and Wade as part of the biggest free agent crop in NBA history.

5 - Dwyane Wade - Miami - Six-time All-Star, Finals MVP, two-time All-NBA First Team, gold medalist with the "Redeem Team" in 2008.

6 - Chris Kaman - L.A. Clippers - Dependable big man made his first All-Star in 2010.

7 - Kirk Hinrich - Chicago - One of the league's toughest defenders, played with LeBron in 2006 World Championships.

8 - T.J. Ford - Milwaukee

9 - Michael Sweetney - New York

10 - Jarvis Hayes - Washington

11 - Mickael Pietrus - Golden State - One of the East's top sixth men, killed Cavs from long-distance in 2009 ECF.

13 - Marcus Banks - Memphis

18 - David West - New Orleans - Two-time All-Star 2008, 2009.

19 - Sasha Pavlovic - Utah - Like the No. 47 overall pick, played just his rookie season with the Jazz, selected by the Bobcats in the expansion draft, traded to Cavaliers.

21 - Boris Diaw - Atlanta

23 - Travis Outlaw - Portland

25 - Carlos Delfino - Detroit

27 - Kendrick Perkins - Memphis - Became a defensive force and NBA Champ with the Celtics.

28 - Leandro Barbosa - San Antonio - The "Brazilian Blur" won 2006-07 Sixth Man of the Year.

29 - Josh Howard - Dallas - All-Star in 2007, recently traded to Washington.

31 - Jason Kapono - Cleveland - NBA Champ with Miami in 2006, two-time Long Distance Shootout winner and the second-most accurate three-point shooter in NBA history.

32 - Luke Walton - L.A. Lakers - Won his second NBA Championship with the Lakers.

41 - Willie Green - Seattle

42 - Zaza Pachulia - Orlando

43 - Keith Bogans - Milwaukee

45 - Matt Bonner - Chicago

47 - Mo Williams - Utah - Played just one season in Utah, made first All-Star appearance in 2009.

49 - James Jones - Indiana

51 - Kyle Korver - Philadelphia - Led the NBA in three-point shooting in 2010.