Jun 17, 2012; Miam, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) and small forward LeBron James (6) during the third quarter in game three in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

If They Were In Their Prime: Battle of the Draft Classes

It’s a little different but the main focus of the post is the same: How good would a team be if their players were in their prime? Only thing here is that we’ll be comparing draft classes. The classes we’ll be looking at are the 95 AND 96 vs the 03 AND 04. Which pair of classes produced the better product?

I think this is going to be exciting. Join me. What’s what? You need to use the restroom? Ok I’ll wait.

You’re done? We’ll let’s get this party started!

I’m going to go over some ground rules here. We’re going to obviously need a roster limit so I’ll go 12. Also, I will be picking players based on positional need. That means, I won’t have 5 point guards and no centers. There needs to be balance. Other than that, I’m planning on using player’s positions loosely.

Let’s look at my 12 man roster of the 95’96 draft classes:

Kobe Bryant

Kevin Garnett

Jerry Stackhouse

Steve Nash

Jermaine O’Neal

Rasheed Wallace

Ray Allen

Allen Iverson

Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Peja Stojakovic

Marcus Camby

Stephon Marbury

So that’s the 12-man roster for the 95 and 96 team. Now, for the 03 and 04 team:

LeBron James

Dwyane Wade

Dwight Howard

Chris Kaman

Kirk Hinrich

Kendrick Perkins

Carmelo Anthony

Chris Bosh

Andre Iguodala

Jameer Nelson

JR Smith

Loul Deng

So that’s the 12-man roster for the 03 and 04 draft class. Here’s the rotation for 95-96:

PG Nash, Marbury, Iverson

SG Iverson, Allen, Stackhouse, Bryant

SF Bryant, Stojakovic, Stackhouse

PF Garnett, O’Neal, Abdur-Rahim

C Wallace, Camby

As I said, some players may play more than one position. Here’s 03-04:

PG Hinrich, Nelson, Wade

SG Wade, Smith, Deng

SF Anthony, Iguodala, Deng, James

PF James, Bosh, Deng

C Howard, Perkins, Kaman

So now we have the rosters. Which team is better? Let’s break down each position.


Nash vs Hinrich isn’t much of a competition. Nash in his prime was better than Hinrich but Hinrich’s game does resemble Nash’s game in some ways. That would be an interesting battle. The backup PG’s would be a battle between Nelson and Marbury. There, I think Marbury would win that battle. And in the situation the PG needs to go to 3rd string, it would be Iverson vs Wade. In terms of playing the actual PG position, I think Wade would do it better but at the end of the day, I think Wade would win the overall battle, although I feel Iverson is the better scorer.

Advantage: 95-96


Speaking of Wade vs Iverson, they both start at SG. It really comes down to either the power of Wade or the quickness of Iverson. Combine Wade and Iverson and it’s the ultimate scorer. Anyway, I want to give the win to Iverson. But the bench is where the clear victory comes in. Allen vs JR Smith. Ray Allen wins that one.

Advantage: 95-96


The starters are Bryant and Anthony. While I give a clear win to Bryant, it’s the bench that actually comes in handy. Andre Iguodala and Loul Deng are much better than Peja Stojakovic and Jerry Stackhouse. And so, I feel that any disadvantage facing Anthony is made up from the bench.

Advantage: 03-04


Garnett vs James. Now Garnett in his prime was a beast. He was like James in that he could guard multiple positions and caused match-up problems. I would give the James the win though. Bosh vs O’Neal and Abdur-Rahim belongs to the duo. Some people forget but O’Neal was a beast before injuries settled in. Abdur-Rahim was quite a big man too especially with the Hawks and Grizzlies.

Advantage: 03-04

So the older guys win the battle of the guards and the younger guys win the forward battle. Now for the Center of attention (I went there):


At first glance, Dwight Howard pretty much gives the 03-04 team the ultimate advantage at this position. He’s starting vs Rasheed Wallace. Marcus Camby in vs Perkins and Kaman is a battle of defensive bigs, mainly for Camby and Perkins. Wallace in his prime can handle Howard. He can slow him down just enough offensively. Then, on offense he’d be patrolling the perimeter and Howard might not be as effective on the defensive end. So hey, maybe the advantage goes to 95-96.

Advantage: 95-96

So then looking at the career stats and whatevers for the prime years of each player, I think the better pair of draft classes is…wait for it…oh the suspense is killin ya…I’m actually stalling because I’m still making up my mind…uuuuuhhhhhh…03-04! Yeah I’m going with them.

So what about you? What changes would you make to the rosters? You agree with me or not? Heck, you want me to analyze other draft classes? Talk to me.

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