Looking at the 2004 Draft we see that it is much more "normal" than the prior year. It is not overly top-heavy, and does not have a wealth of superior talent. It does, however, have excellent depth in the first round.
There were five All-Stars from this draft: Dwight Howard (picked #1), Devin Harris (#5), Luol Deng (#7), Andre Iguoldala (#9) and Jameer Nelson (#20.)
Howard easily ends up being the best player from 2004. There is a large gap between him and everybody else, although this was not apparent at the time, and Emeka Okafor was almost picked before him.
What strikes me about 2004 is the high amount of borderline star talent available. Besides the All-Stars mentioned, we also have Al Jefferson (#15), Josh Smith (#17), Kevin Martin (#26) and Anderson Varejao (#30.) So there were a plethora of very good - but not quite upper echelon - players.
Okafor was the second pick in this draft, and he has not lived up to high expectations. Ben Gordon was a mediocre choice at #3. Shaun Livingston was picked fourth, and like Jay Williams, saw his career destroyed by a single injury. Harris was picked fifth and has had a productive career.
There were many other solid value picks made in the first round: Andris Biedrins (#11), Kris Humphries (#14), J.R. Smith (#18), Delonte West (#24), Tony Allen (#25), Sasha Vujacic (#27) and Beno Udrih (#28) were all good picks given their draft position. So overall the first round of 2004 again shows us the vast amount of depth often available in a single draft.
Varejao, the first pick in round two, was obviously an excellent selection. There were not that many other noteworthy second rounders; Chris Duhon (#38) and Trevor Ariza (#43) are the only other two players worth mentioning. And unlike most years, nobody went undrafted who went on to have a solid and long NBA career.
So while 2004 was hardly a spectacular draft, it was deep. It produced a good number of valuable players, many of whom were picked after the lottery. A rough approximation of the top ten players in this draft, with their actual pick number in parenthesis:
1. Dwight Howard (1)
2. Andre Iguodala (9)
3. Al Jefferson (15)
4. Josh Smith (17)
5. Kevin Martin (26)
6. Luol Deng (7)
7. Devin Harris (5)
8. Anderson Varejao (30)
9. Jameer Nelson (20)
10. Emeka Okafor (2)