It's an impossible task really, ranking the quality of NBA Draft classes. Because there are innumerable ways to measure the successes or shortcomings of a class. You could tally the total number of All-Star appearances, or average out the VORP (Value Over Replacement) of a class in totality. You could see how many (if any) MVP winners were produced, or how many were out of the league within five years.
I could continue to bore you with criteria, but you get it: the laundry list of ranking a draft class is a long one.
Fortunately for you, I ticked off all the boxes so you won't have to. I've pored over every draft class since 2000, and ranked the top five using arbitrary -- er, proprietary! -- qualifications. If you want to really immerse yourself, you can take a glance here at the five worst classes before proceeding.
OK, let's get into it.
The best draft of the last two decades just so happened to also produce the best player the sport has ever seen. (Don't @ me.) But this draft was far more than just LeBron James. From this class also came Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyle Korver, David West, Mo Williams, Kendrick Perkins, Zaza Pachulia and Leandro Barbosa.
In total, the class produced nine (!) All-Stars, the most from any draft class since the legendary 1996 class, with 50 combined All-Star appearances among the top five picks. In terms of star power, depth and total impact, this draft has helped shape the league the last two decades in a way others have not.
Unlike the 2003 class where the biggest stars were all top five picks -- LeBron, Carmelo, Bosh and Wade -- the 2009 class had some of its biggest stars drafted from outside the top two. James Harden went No. 3 in 2009, and Stephen Curry, incredibly, fell to No. 7 in this class. Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick and a six-time All-Star, has been no slouch of his own.
There were some good finds later in this draft as well with Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague and Darren Collison all going outside the lottery. Then there were Patty Mills and Danny Green, who were second-round discoveries still scooting around in the league today. A combined six All-Stars rose from this class, with Curry, Griffin and Harden all taking turns in recent years as some of the most recognizable and influential faces of the game.
No. 1 pick: Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving, Duke
It's incredible how star-studded this class is, and even more incredible to look back at how evenly the stars were spread out among this draft. Kyrie Irving was selected first, Kemba Walker was drafted ninth, Klay Thompson 11th, Kawhi Leonard 15th (!), Nikola Vucevic 16th, Jimmy Butler 30th and Isaiah Thomas 60th. Just completely shocking how loaded this class was with talent, quite literally from top to bottom.
No. 1 pick: Wizards - Kwame Brown, Glynn Academy
Kwame Brown was a bust as the No. 1 overall pick, but don't let that distract you from the otherwise stellar nature of this draft class. Between No. 2 pick Tyson Chandler, No. 3 pick Pau Gasol, No. 6 pick Shane Battier and No. 10 pick Joe Johnson, there were a combined 14 All-Star appearances and five NBA championships. There was also a wealth of depth, with Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker and Gerald Wallace going on to have productive careers as sub top-10 first-round picks. My favorite example of the strength of this class was Gilbert Arenas, a three-time All-Star who was the second pick of the second round.
This class produced two MVP winners (Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose), seven All-Stars and a whopping four multi-time All-Stars -- with Westbrook's nine appearances leading the class and Rose, Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, DeAndre Jordan and Goran Dragic all earning bids. The class also produced a number of NBA champions, among them Serge Ibaka (No. 24 overall pick), JaVale McGee (No. 18 overall pick), Marreese Speights (No. 16 overall pick) and Love (No. 5 overall pick).