Wizards

Is the 2020 NBA Draft class as weak as people say it is?

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© Sean Logan/The Republic

Every year, it seems, a narrative builds that a weak NBA Draft class is looming. This year is no different.

In December, Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, one of the most respected mock draft evaluators out there, wrote a piece entitled 'How the Worst NBA Draft in Years Could Impact the Trade Deadline.' Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, also a well-regarded draft forecaster, wrote how it isn't necessarily a weak class, but it does lack high-end talent. There are other articles which suggest the same.

We seem to hear some variation of this every year, yet every year the NBA Draft produces multiple All-Star players and almost every class includes a future Hall of Famer or two. One could argue every draft class is varying degrees of good. They just get judged too much by the players who get selected at the top.

Consider this: every draft class since 2000 (excluding this year's because it's too early) has had at least two All-Stars. In the 18 drafts from 2000 to 2018, all but one class has had three or more All-Stars. Fourteen of those 18 drafts have produced at least four. And nine of them - so, half - had at least five All-Stars.

The 2003 draft headlined by LeBron James leads them all with nine. That year also included Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams and Kyle Korver. 

 

But even some draft classes which are invoked often when off-years are mentioned were actually quite good. The 2001 draft, in which the Wizards picked Kwame Brown first overall, had eight All-Stars. The 2011 draft, which the Wizards took Jan Vesely at sixth overall, had seven All-Stars, including five guys who also made All-NBA: Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker.

The 2013 draft, which infamously had Anthony Bennett go first overall, only had three All-Stars but still produced Victor Oladipo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an MVP and Gobert a defensive player of the year.

The one outlier class in terms of All-Stars is 2014, which only had two of them: Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. But that class was arguably fairly deep top-to-bottom.

Also picked were Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Dario Saric, Zach LaVine, T.J. Warren, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jerami Grant and Jordan Clarkson. Even if this year's class is devoid of stars, it could still end up like 2014, which arguably had 17-plus impact players if you agree with that list.

What you find in hindsight when looking back at drafts of the past is that the ones most believe to be lacking in talent were actually just harder to predict. This year doesn't have Zion Williamson and Ja Morant at the top. Usually, the team who lands the No. 1 pick has an easy job, just take the guy everyone sees as the next superstar.

This year doesn't have that element. There seem to be at least three options for the Timberwolves with the first overall pick: Anthony Edwards (Georgia), James Wiseman (Memphis) and LaMelo Ball (Illawarra). It could leave a team like the Wizards, picking ninth, in a good spot. The best player in the draft very well might be on the board when they are picking.

Regardless of how this class is viewed, you can count on the draft infusing the league with multiple All-Stars and likely another dozen or so impact rotation players. It happens every year.