Ranking this decade's NBA draft classes, from best to worst

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From 2010 to 2019 we’ve seen a number of talented players enter and dominate the NBA like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. Along with that All-Star list of talent, there have also been quite a few busts over the years (ahem, Anthony Bennett). Out of the 600 players drafted by the 30 NBA teams, 286 players are still currently listed on an NBA roster.

With a new decade approaching, we take a look at each draft class from the last 10 years, the top players to emerge from the class and how the classes rank against each other. 

1. 2011 NBA draft class

Notable players: Kyrie Irving (No. 1), Klay Thompson (No. 11), Kawhi Leonard (No. 15), Jimmy Butler (No. 30)

The 2011 class was loaded with talent. There are six rings between Irving, Leonard and Thompson — the most out of any draft class this decade. Butler and the Heat are rolling, currently in second place in the East, and he might just get his championship in Miami. The 2011 class has the most All-Stars with seven total (including Isaiah Thomas, who was the last player picked in this draft class).

2. 2012 NBA draft class

Notable players: Anthony Davis (No. 1), Bradley Beal (No. 3), Damian Lillard (No. 6), Draymond Green (No. 35)

Davis is playing some of the best basketball of his career alongside LeBron James in Los Angeles and Lillard was this close to leading the Trail Blazers to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1992. The 2012 draft class still has some depth beyond the aforementioned as well, with key players around the league becoming stars or role players for their respective franchises. 

Kentucky's Anthony Davis and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller stand with NBA commissioner David Stern (C) before the 2012 NBA draft. (Reuters)

3. 2015 NBA draft class

Notable players: Karl Anthony-Towns (No. 1), D’Angelo Russell (No. 2), Kristaps Porzingis (No. 4), Devin Booker (No. 13)

Anthony-Towns has established himself as one of the top bigs in the NBA, averaging a double-double this season (26 points, 12 rebounds). In 2017, Devin Booker scored 70 points in a game — the most scored in an NBA game since Kobe Bryant put up 81 against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. With Porzingis clicking well with Luka Doncic down in Dallas and D’Angelo Russell seeing solid minutes on a patched-up Warriors team, this draft class is on the rise. The only negative thing surrounding this class is that there were 15 players drafted in 2015 that never played in a regular season NBA game. That’s a quarter of the entire draft class that never saw a single minute of NBA playing time. 

4. 2018 NBA draft class

Notable players: Luka Doncic (No. 3), Trae Young (No. 5)

Doncic and Young will be tied together for the rest of their careers. Dallas traded up get Doncic and the Hawks drafted Young behind him at No. 5. Both were in a close race for Rookie of the Year last season and both are becoming franchise players early in their career. Doncic is averaging a staggering 29.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game this season. Comparatively, Young is averaging 29 points per game with a season-high of 49 points in an OT loss to Indiana in November. Let’s not forget about Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley from this draft class too, both of whom are quietly becoming key bigs in a competitive western conference. 

5. 2013 NBA draft class

Notable players: Victor Oladipo (No. 2), Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15), Rudy Gobert (No. 27)

Cleveland really took Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall. He only averaged 4.2 points in 52 games his rookie year and was traded to Minnesota right after the season ended. There were also 14 players picked ahead of reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is carrying this class and dominating the East averaging a double-double (31.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game). His name will be in the MVP conversation for years to come. Rudy Gobert is a star player for the Utah Jazz, CJ McCollum makes up a deadly backcourt in Portland alongside Damien Lillard, and Victor Oladipo is a two-time All-Star. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo (R) from Greece stands with NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. (Reuters)

6. 2014 NBA draft class

Notable players: Andrew Wiggins (No. 1), Joel Embiid (No. 3), Nikola Jokic (No. 41)

Embiid is one of the top centers in the league who wears his emotions on his sleeve and has brought a lot of personality to the NBA. Whether it’s fighting with Karl Anthony-Towns (on and off the court) or being too scared to go down a waterslide in the Bahamas, Embiid’s antics have kept NBA fans entertained for the last five years. Embiid has also been one of the most productive players in the NBA, averaging a double-double over the last three seasons (24 points, 11.5 rebounds). Jokic ended up being the biggest surprise of this draft class. He was named an NBA All-Star last season and also All-NBA First Team. 

7. 2017 NBA draft class

Notable players: Jayson Tatum (No. 3), De’Aaron Fox (No. 5), Donovan Mitchell (No. 13)

Did Tatum dunk on LeBron during the playoffs his rookie year? Yes. And Mitchell won the dunk contest and may or may not have been robbed by Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year. Fox is looking to be the future in Sacramento, averaging 17.8 points per game so far this season. This class still has an enormous amount of potential but it’s still too early to tell who else will emerge as a star in the NBA. 

8. 2010 NBA draft class

Notable players: John Wall (No. 1), Demarcus Cousins (No. 5), Gordon Hayward (No. 9), Paul George (No. 10)

It’s hard to believe some of these players have been in the league for nearly 10 years. George is one of the main attractions in Los Angeles this year, averaging 24.5 points in 20 games played for the Clippers. The other marquee players from the class have been plagued with injuries. We all remember Hayward’s devastating lower leg injury last year and he’s been riddled with minor injuries early on this season. Cousins is out with an ACL injury on a stacked Lakers team and Wall has yet to play this season due to an Achilles injury. 

9. 2016 NBA draft class

Notable players: Ben Simmons (No. 1), Brandon Ingram (No. 2), Jaylen Brown (No. 3)

Simmons was the first player in this draft class to make an NBA All-Star roster and has only made two 3-pointers in his young NBA career. Brandon Ingram has found his stride in New Orleans, averaging 25 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and Jaylen Brown is putting up good numbers at Boston with 19.6 points per game. There are still a lot of question marks as to whether there’s another potential All-Star in this group. 

10. 2019 NBA draft class 

Notable players: Zion Williamson (No. 1), Ja Morant (No. 2) 

It might seem a little unfair to put the newest draft class at the very bottom but we’re a quarter of the way through the NBA season and there’s little productivity coming out of this rookie class. Zion Williamson still hasn’t played, Ja Morant just returned from a back injury (although he did have this monster dunk his first game back) and most of the other players drafted last year are getting lost in the shuffle. Sure, Tyler Herro is showing flickers down in Miami shooting lights out in a few games (29 points against the Hawks) and PJ Washington had a dunk down the lane that went viral, but as a whole, this draft class has been very disappointing so far. 

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