We now come to the 2003 Draft, widely considered to be one of the best ever. There were eight All-Stars from this draft: LeBron James (picked #1), Carmelo Anthony (#3), Chris Bosh (#4), Dwyane Wade (#5), Chris Kaman (#6), David West (#18), Josh Howard (#29) and Mo Williams (#47.)
Finally, we see a draft that is truly top-heavy. The four best players were all picked in the top five - the first time anything remotely like this has happened in these reviews. Because of this, Darko Milicic is considered one of the worst busts ever at #2. When people (mistakenly) think that all the best players go very early in a draft, this is the kind of year they are thinking of.
Obviously what is most striking about 2003 is the star power up top, but the other reason this draft is held in such high regard is the amount of depth it provided. Besides the players already mentioned, we have Kirk Hinrich (pick #7), Nick Collison (#12), Luke Ridnour (#14), Boris Diaw (#21), Carlos Delfino (#25), Kendrick Perkins (#27) and Leandro Barbosa (#28) all picked in the first round.
The second round also produced many very solid pros besides just Mo Williams: Steve Blake (#38), Zaza Pachulia (#42), Matt Bonner (#45), James Jones (#49) and Kyle Korver (#51) were all superb second round picks. We can also add that Marquis Daniels went undrafted and has had a good career.
So 2003 had an abundance of quality throughout the draft. It produced major stars up top, and then kept producing solid players throughout. This draft is also atypical in that all the superior talent was taken off the board very early, and that is probably why it is remembered so fondly.
A rough approximation of the top ten players in this draft, with their actual pick number in parenthesis:
1. LeBron James (1)
2. Dwyane Wade (5)
3. Carmelo Anthony (3)
4. Chris Bosh (4)
5. David West (18)
6. Josh Howard (29)
7. Mo Williams (47)
8. Kirk Hinrich (7)
9. Chris Kaman (6)
10. Leandro Barbosa (28)