The 2003 NBA draft class is often referred to as one of the best in league history. The list includes many of the game’s best talents and future Hall of Famer. However, it’s dominated by an impressive group in the first five selections, with a couple of players continuing their careers.
1. LeBron James
Since earning the prestigious honor of being the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, LeBron James has put forth a first-ballot Hall of Fame career.
James has completely blown past the expectations laid before him as he has put himself firmly in the GOAT conversation. He has added numerous impressive marks to his resume with four NBA titles, four NBA Finals MVP awards, four regular-season MVP honors, 16 All-Star game selections, and 13 All-NBA First Team nods.
He is the first player to secure Finals MVP honors with three different franchises. James is also the only player in the top 5 of the all-time points list and inside the top 10 in all-time assists. Heading into his 18th season, he has plenty left in the tank to add to his legacy.
2. Darco Milicic
One of the most talked-about players in the 2003 draft class is Darko Milicic, who is forever known as the player taken ahead of Carmelo Anthony.
Milicic had much hype coming out Serbia as a potential NBA star. However, he never fulfilled those expectations beyond earning an NBA title with the 2004 Detroit Pistons. After that initial tenure with the Pistons to begin his career, he became a journeyman bouncing around the league with five different teams. He finished his NBA career in 2012 with the Boston Celtics.
Milicic has moved past those draft bust labels and enjoys his life away from basketball as a successful farmer in Serbia.
3. Carmelo Anthony
Following a lone collegiate season at Syracuse, where he won a national championship, Carmelo Anthony has had a Hall of Fame-worthy NBA career after the 2003 NBA draft.
Anthony became one of the league’s brightest stars behind his elite scoring ability. The first part of his career saw him guide the Denver Nuggets to a Western Conference Finals berth. Things shifted in the opposite direction once he demanded a trade to the New York Knicks, where he struggled to find success and dealt with nagging injuries.
Following his departure from the Knicks, Anthony played a year with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It led to a failed brief stint with the Houston Rockets that landed him out of the league for over a year. The 10-time All-Star has since rekindled his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, proving he has much left in the tank.
4. Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh entered the NBA as a promising prospect out of the 2003 NBA draft class, and it didn’t take long for him to find his footing.
Bosh lifted into stardom in his first sevens seasons with the Toronto Raptors, becoming a bonafide All-Star and one of the league’s best players. He took his status to the next level after joining LeBron James and Dwayne Wade with the Miami Heat to form a Big 3.
He took a backseat as the third scoring option but experienced much success with his fellow 2003 draft class picks winning a pair of NBA titles in four trips. The 11-time All-Star saw his career abruptly stopped after a blood clot was found in one of his lungs in February 2015 that ended his season.
However, things took another disappointing turn as another blood clot was found in his leg the following February. Bosh attempted to make a comeback, but that was cut short to health concerns. He has since taken an approach to stay involved with the league while dabbling into social media ventures.
5. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade experienced a quick rise to stardom after being selected in the 2003 NBA draft by the Miami Heat, where he spent the bulk of his Hall of Fame career.
Wade became the franchise cornerstone from the get-go that saw him experience his first championship success after the Heat acquired Shaquille O’Neal. The franchise struggled to stay afloat for a couple of years but resurfaced in the title picture after LeBron James and Chris Bosh teamed up with him in 2010.
Wade was a critical piece to the puzzle helping the franchise secure two more NBA titles in four NBA Finals appearances. Following James’ departure and Bosh’s career suddenly ending, he had a one-year run with his hometown Chicago Bulls. Wade followed that with a brief stint alongside James with the Cleveland Cavaliers before heading back to the Heat to play his final 1 1/2 seasons of his career.
Beyond winning three NBA titles, Wade has an NBA Finals MVP award, 13 All-Star Game selections, eight All-NBA team nods, and three All-Defensive Second Team selections.
Since retirement, he has transitioned over to the media side after signing a multi-year deal to work with TNT’s “Inside The NBA” Crew during significant events and Tuesday’ studio coverage with Shaquille O’Neal and Candace Parker.