Each June, NBA basketball minds reach into the college and international pool of budding young superstars. The teams have different goals and objectives for the players they select. Some players are traded before they even wear the uniform of the team that picked them.
Basketball gurus rank these draft classes across a spectrum of criteria. They grade based on things such as all-star appearances and statistical excellence. While each franchise will diagnose their needs and analyze the results differently, there is one primary aim of every team in the NBA Draft.
That goal is to bring on board players who can help them attain the ultimate prize; the NBA Title. Some draft classes fair better than others. Here’s a look at a couple draft classes with a healthy number of titles, plus will target one class in particular, the NBA draft class with the most rings.
1984 – Ushering in the Golden Era
In 1984, a championship icon was drafted into professional basketball. This draft class was full of some legendary players, including the player many tab as the greatest ever. For all his greatness and six championship rings, Michael Jordan’s draft class doesn’t earn the honor as having the most.
The big four as some label them, Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton only nabbed eight rings collectively. They almost won as many MVPs at seven. The 1984 NBA draft class boasts four NBA Hall of Famers taken in the first 16 selections.
1996 – Deep with Abundant Production
The 50th draft held by the National Basketball Association has been credited with being one of the best. The class of 1996 produced the late-great Kobe Bryant among other superstars. It was a draft that turned out talented players deeper down the draft board than most years.
The group amassed 58 total all-star appearances to go along with three MVP awards. However, for all the depth and player accolades the 1996 NBA class earned, they only garnered 14 NBA championship rings.
2003 – Not Quite Finished
The man many deem the current best player on the planet has a nice ring collection himself. LeBron James was joined in the 2003 draft class by future Miami Heat teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. This trio doubled their ring total in 2012 and 2013, winning back-to-back titles.
Wade is dribbling his way into the South Beach sunset and the Pro Basketball Hall-of-Fame. Bosh had his career cut short by a devastating physical ailment. James took his game to Tinseltown, so he may be in line for more chances at rings as the LA front office tries to build a title team around him. However, for all their greatness, these three highly respected draft classes can’t match the true kings of the rings.
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1956 – Kings of the Rings
Three players taken in the 1956 NBA draft are key reasons why this is the class with the most rings. The Boston Celtics took Tom Heinsohn with their territorial selection. The player Boston had their eye was unavailable due to these NBA territorial pick rules of 1956.
However, the Celtics had a mastermind at getting what he wanted. Two picks later, the St. Louis Hawks franchise selected the player that coach Red Auerbach coveted, but a player who seemed out of reach. Auerbach did his pre-draft homework.
He knew that Rochester would probably not draft Bill Russell because of financial considerations. So, he set his eye on sweetening the pot for the Hawks` management team. It would turn out to be one of the most historic draft-day trades in sports history.
Louis wanted to boost ticket sales by bringing home current Celtics’ center Ed Macauley, a six-time all-star. The Celtics’ added Cliff Hagan to the deal, the rest is NBA Championship history.
Boston would go on to draft KC Jones with the 13th overall selection. Heinsohn, not Russell, won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1957. By 1966, the pair was on their way to eight consecutive rings.
As the multi-round draft unfolded, another future ring wearer wouldn’t get taken until the 14th and final round. Elgin Baylor earned 10 first-team All-NBA honors, but was never part of a team that added to the class of 56 ring count.
He actually didn’t play until he was re-drafted first in 1958. However, with Russell’s eleven and eight each by Heinsohn and KC Jones, the 1956 NBA draft class total hits 26 split between these three great Boston Celtics stars.
A broad-shouldered kid from San Pedro, California added three rings to his collection as a member of the great Boston dynasty. Willie Naulls was sent west to San Francisco for one season, but the Warriors traded him back to Boston where helped them win three more titles.
So, the 1956 NBA draft class may not be stocked with as many total Hall-of-Fame players, but a crafty and masterful head coach pulled off a league altering draft-day trade. The Boston Celtics began a dynasty run that would put more title banners hanging from the rafters in Boston Garden than in any other franchise in pro basketball. It would also cement that year’s draft as the NBA draft class with the most rings.