Usually, around this time, the NBA Finals have ended and the sports world focuses on the NBA Draft that hits at the end of June. Due to the League shutting down on March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 NBA Draft will now be pushed back to October 16th, 2020.
The season will resume in July, but it’s never a bad time to remember some of the greatest Draft classes the league has ever seen.
In fact, the 2003 class is considered the best ever by many hoops experts. Of the six active players remaining from the Class of 2003, four of them appeared in the 2018 Finals – LeBron James, Zaza Pachulia, Kyle Korver and David West.
2003 NBA Draft Class Fashion Glow Up
LeBron, seventeen years after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick straight out of high school, remains the best player on the planet, having at one point led his teams to appearances in a remarkable eight straight NBA Finals.
King James has elevated to not only a GOAT candidate but a leading voice in Black America’s fight against police brutality and social injustice.
James won titles with Miami and Cleveland in 2012, 2013 and 2016, where he earned Finals MVP honors in each. The Rookie of the Year during the 2003-2004 season, he’s made 16 straight All-Star appearances, which I a record. He also appeared on the All-NBA First Defensive Team for five consecutive years from 2009 to 2014. This year, at the age of 35, he averaged 25.7 points, 7.9 boards and a career-high 10.6 assists per game for the Lakers, who are favored to win the NBA’s 2020 COVID-19 tournament at the Disney Bubble.
Picked by the Denver Nuggets with the third overall selection, Carmelo might be on the decline after his sub-par season in OKC, but he’ll go down in history as one of the most devastating offensive weapons the game has ever seen.
After leading Syracuse to a national championship as a true freshman in 2003, in a virtuoso effort that will never be forgotten by anyone who witnessed it, Melo has been a ten-time All-Star who’s averaged 23.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and three assists per game.
Bosh was taken fourth by the Toronto Raptors. Blood clots ended his career prematurely two years ago, but he was an 11-time All-Star who led the Raptors to their first playoff appearance in five years and their first-ever division title in 2006-2007.
When he went to Miami as a free agent in 2010, he was Toronto’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, double-doubles, free throws made and minutes played. Playing alongside LeBron and Wade, Bosh won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
The Miami Heat selected Wade with the fifth overall selection after he led Marquette to the 2003 Final Four. The Chicago native won three rings with the Heat in 2006, 2012 and 2013. The Finals MVP in 2006, Wade is a 13-time All-Star.
Solid Draft From Top To Bottom
The 2003 Draft class also produced very solid pros further down the board in Nick Collison, Sasha Pavlovic, Kirk Hinrich, David West, Kyle Korver, Dahntay Jones, Boris Diaw, ESPN talking head Kendric Perkins, Leandro Barbosa and Josh Howard, but there’s no denying that it’s considered one of the best ever because of how heavy it was at the top.
Some have suggested that the 2003 group is the best Draft class ever. But they’ll get a ferocious argument from those who lean towards the 1996 group with Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and the stellar 1984 class that included Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.
Nevertheless, it’s common knowledge that those three classes – 2003, 1996 and 1984 – are The Gold Standard.
And no group in the last 15 years, including Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson’s class in 2011, James Harden and Steph Curry’s class in 2009, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love’s class in 2008 and John Wall and Paul George’s class in 2010 even comes remotely close.