5. 1992: The 1992 NBA Draft wasn’t home to an extremely deep crop of great players; however, Shaquille O’Neal, who was selected No. 1 overall, brought enough gusto to the the table to propel the class of ’92 among the greats. O’Neal’s resumé of career achievements goes on and on — from MVP awards and championship rings to monster dunks and a never-ending list of nicknames — and although he ended his career on a very lackluster note, the Big Aristotle’s impact on the game of basketball was even bigger than his 7-foot-1-inch, 325 pound frame. Flanking O’Neal in the Class of ’92 is yet another center who left a major impact on the game of basketball — Alonzo Mourning. A seven-time all-star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a world champion, Mourning was never an unstoppable scorer, however, his impact on the game extended much further than his career averages of 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds. He was a terrific post defender, who would have been the starting center for nearly every NBA team during his final three seasons with Miami, despite being well into his 30s. Aside from the beastly big men, the 1992 draft also produced seven-time NBA champion and master of the clutch, Robert Horry, who hit big shot after big shot during crunch time throughout his career.
4. 1985: While many might blame the 1985 draft for being kick-starter for the widespread sentiment that the NBA is fixed, it still produced a great deal of star power. The first draft to utilize the lottery format brought in Knick’s great, Patrick Ewing and NBA legend Karl Malone to the NBA. Other notable players selected in 1985 were Joe Dumars, Chris Mullin, Charles Oakley and AC Green — who all went on to win NBA championships or become fixtures at All Star Weekend. We’ll never know whether or not the draft was fixed to bring Ewing to the Knicks, but what we do know, is that 1985 (although no where near as good as the year before’s class) brought just more than talent to the NBA, it brought excellence to the league.
3. 1987: Headline by three surefire hall of famers, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller, the 1987 draft was home to quite a bit of talent. Two of the league’s top point guards throughout the 90’s — Mark Jackson and Kevin Johnson — also heard their names called in the first round, and went on to enjoy very successful careers, as Jackson is the third-leading assist-getter (10,334 assists) in NBA history over the course of his 17-year career. Johnson on the other hand, was a lightning-quick guard, who not only was a great passer, but scored the ball extremely well throughout his career.
Next: The Cream of the Crop