July’s live recruiting period is right around the corner, meaning that the Class of 2016 will have a chance to truly prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country. Scholarships will be earned and rankings will be justified over the course of those three weekends in July.
But scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being. Ask Steph Curry. Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2004-2011, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career.
Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2008, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:
READ MORE: The complete Re-ranking the Classes series
1. Paul George (UR) – From unranked to a two-time All-NBA third-team selection, George has become one of the NBA’s best two-way players and a star on the wing. Also making two All-Defense selections and two all-star games, hopefully George can return to full strength from the gruesome leg injury suffered during the USA Basketball scrimmage last August.
2. Damian Lillard (UR) – Another unranked player who has become one of the faces of the NBA, Lillard is a two-time all-star himself and earned third-team All-NBA honors in 2014. After four years at Weber State, Lillard was ready to produce immediately at the NBA level and he earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2013.
3. Klay Thompson (51) – The only member of the re-ranked top 25 to be initially ranked, Thompson earned an NBA title, third-team All-NBA recoginition and a spot in the All-Star Game in 2015. During a breakout 2014-15, Thompson set an NBA record with 37 points and nine 3-pointers in one quarter against the Kings.
4. Nikola Vucevic (UR) – Playing with the Orlando Magic, Vucevic had a breakout fourth season and took a step forward as one of the league’s best offensive big men. Already a dynamic rebounder, Vucevic also shot 52 percent from the field as a primary scoring option last season.
5. Gordon Hayward (UR) – The multi-faceted Hayward has had two consecutive very good campaigns and improved his shooting percentages in 2014-15. If Hayward continues to stay consistent, he has a chance to be a potential All-Star.
6. Greg Monroe (8) –Earning a recent big contract from the Milwaukee Bucks, Monroe averaged a double-double at 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season and he’s also a good passer with quick hands for a big man.
7. Draymond Green (122) –One of the breakout performers of this past season, Green thrived in Steve Kerr’s new system and put up his best all-around numbers (11.7 pts, 8.2 reb, 3.7 ast, 1.6 stls, 1.3 blks) and also earned first-team All-Defense honors.
8. Demar DeRozan (3) – The first one-and-done on the list, DeRozan has turned into an all-star two-guard, capable of big scoring numbers. Also a member of the USA Basketball team in 2014, DeRozan has helped lead the Raptors into one of the better teams in the East.
9. Jrue Holiday (2) – Ben Howland didn’t find the best way to use Holiday in his brief time at UCLA, but at point guard, Holiday has thrived and made an all-star appearance in 2013. Battling injury since his best season, Holiday has struggled at times to regain that form in New Orleans.
10. Brandon Jennings (4) – Jennings famously played his lone season before the NBA in overseas instead of college and he’s carved out a nice career so far with the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons. Through half of the 2014-15 season, Jennings was off to a great start before a season-ending Achilles’ injury set him back.
11. Tyreke Evans (6) – Coming out of the gate strong, Evans was Rookie of the Year in 2010 before his scoring numbers and efficiency numbers took a dip. Still a consistent threat with the ball in his hands, Evans has good career numbers and is a steady performer in New Orleans.
12. Kemba Walker (14) – Walker has averaged over 17 points per game the last three seasons, but his shooting percentages took a dip this season as Charlotte missed the playoffs.
13. Isaiah Thomas (92) – The final pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas has carved his niche as a small scoring guard. Thomas played a big part in the Boston Celtics making the playoffs after being traded there mid-season.
14. Markieff Morris (49) – Playing all 82 games for the Phoenix Suns last season, Morris saw career bests in points, rebounds, assists and steals and stretches the floor at forward.
15. Reggie Jackson (115) – After being traded to Detroit, Jackson put up big numbers in Stan Van Gundy’s offense, averaging 17.6 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in 27 games for the Pistons.
16. Marcus Morris (29) – Though he had the better career at Kansas than brother Markieff, Marcus hasn’t had as much of an impact at the NBA level. A valuable role player, Marcus was traded to the Pistons this week.
17. Iman Shumpert (39) – More defensive-oriented than offense, the former McDonald’s All-American showed flashes of offensive play in the NBA Playoffs playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
18. Ed Davis (15) – As a career reserve forward, Davis has been a really good energy guy off the bench, collecting rebounds and scoring at a high percentage. Davis signed a three-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers this week.
19. Al-Farouq Aminu (7) –Aminu has been a durable role player on the wing who can rebound and defend. Playing with the Clippers, Hornets and Mavericks, Aminu also signed with the Portland Trail Blazers this week.
20. Tyler Zeller (33) – In the best season of his brief career, Zeller looked like a rotation big man for the Boston Celtics, averaging 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
21. Jae Crowder (UR) – Another Celtic who had a very good season as a reserve, Crowder thrived playing for Brad Stevens, as he had career highs in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals last season.
22. Miles Plumlee (101) – After a very good 2014-15 season for the Phoenix Suns, the oldest Plumlee never regained that form last season with the Suns and Bucks.
23. Kent Bazemore (UR) – An outstanding wing defender, Bazemore showed more of a scoring tough as a Laker and has become a valuable role player for the Atlanta Hawks.
24. Kyle O’Quinn (UR) – Through the first three seasons of his NBA career, O’Quinn has played double-digit minutes in every season and improved enough to be a bit of a stretch option for the Orlando Magic.
25. Shelvin Mack (UR) – Playing as a reserve guard for the Hawks, Mack has been tough on the defensive end to go along with steady numbers as a floor general.
Byron Mullens (1)
Samardo Samuels (9)
Willie Warren (10)
Devin Ebanks (11)
Chris Singleton (12)
Elliot Williams (16)
DeAndre Liggins (28)
Trey Thompkins (30)
Luke Babbitt (31)
Jeff Withey (36)
Darius Miller (42)
Henry Sims (48)
Jeff Taylor (52)
Larry Drew (71)
Tyshawn Taylor (77)
Quincy Acy (84)
Kim English (111)
Travis Leslie (116)
Demetri Goodson (132)
Terrelle Pryor (UR)
Bernard James (UR)
Jorge Gutierrez (UR)
Andrew Nicholson (UR)