Best, worst NBA draft classes

Using the DRAFT Initiative database to rank classes in the modern draft era

Updated: June 19, 2014, 12:43 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider

Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Derrick RoseGetty ImagesNBA All-Stars Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose were part of a loaded 2008 draft class.

The 2014 draft was initially considered to go down as one of the most loaded classes we've ever seen. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum may be talented and young enough to one day get there, but the 2014 hype has cooled after some injuries and up-and-down college campaigns.

Where will the 2014 class rank among the best? It's hard to say. But we need a ranking first, don't we? To do that, I've dusted off the DRAFT Initiative database to rank the best and worst classes of the modern draft era beginning in 1989 when the draft went to the two-round format.

How do we grade each draft? By calculating each class' production in the NBA as measured by annual Estimated Wins Added, a value derivative of Player Efficiency Rating developed by John Hollinger. We're not looking at total raw EWA. If that were the case, earlier draft classes would have more EWA simply by virtue of having more seasons in the league.

To grade players on the same scale, we'll use annual EWA for each player since being drafted. Keep in mind, we're dividing their total EWA by years since drafted, not by played seasons. That way, we account for players who missed seasons due to injury (Greg Oden) or staying overseas (Ricky Rubio). Missed seasons hurt a player's résumé and therefore a class' résumé.

So which is the best class of the modern draft era? Which is the worst? Here's a rank of the top five and bottom five since 1989.

Get ready to size yourself up, 2014 draft class.

Best of the best

1. 2008 draft class
Annual EWA:
127.5

Not what you expected, huh? This is the deepest class of the last 25 years. By far.

At the top, there are some potential Hall of Famers in Russell Westbrook (No. 4), Kevin Love (No. 5) and Derrick Rose (No. 1). The next tier features All-Stars and All-NBA players in Goran Dragic (No. 45), Roy Hibbert (No. 17) and Brook Lopez (No. 10). That's some serious high-end talent.

But that's not where this class shines.