Let us analyze the most likely top 3 picks with similar players from the past (we will use only players taken in the top 5 picks and I have also included a scouting report on each 2009 player to help with the comparison):
Blake Griffen C-F 6'10 251 lbs Scouting Report
2000 Michael Fizer 6'9 - 4th pick in the draft, Fizer was a 20 point scorer in college but ALL of the offense was run through him. Very physical but needed a lot of work on his face to the basket game. Good rebounder but needed a slow down game to be effective. Fizer played just 6 seasons in the NBA, averaging only 9 points 4 rebounds a game.
1989 J.R Reid 6'9 - As the 5th pick in the draft out of North Carolina, Reid had high expectations placed on him which he never lived up to. He was a banger who could finish around the rim but he just didn't pan out in the NBA. His 8.5 career average was just good enough to keep him bouncing around the league.
1988 Charles Smith 6'10 - Charles had some very productive years early in his career averaging over 20 points one season. But it soon caught up with him and his scoring and rebounding dropped off dramatically (Ewing had some to do with this). He would finish his career as a 14 and 6 guy. This would be the best case scenario for Griffen.
Prediction for Griffen: 13 points 8 rebounds 0 all-star games
Hasheem Thabeet C 7'3 265 lbs Scouting Report
1998 Michael Olawokandi 7'0 - One of the biggest busts of all-time. This project could block shots and was much better on the defensive end then scoring. He was young and raw when he came into the league and just didn't produce. His best year was 2002 where he averaged 12 points 9 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. He was a stretch pick at number one and never made an impact in the league.
1985 Benoit Benjamin 7'0 - Another huge bust. Seven footers that are not drafted first just don't pan out very often and Benoit was no exception. He was a quality shot blocker but his attitude and work ethic were brought into question (not saying that Thabeet has either of these). Benoit was able to stay in the league 15 years, averaging only 11 points a game, as everyone is willing to give a large 7'0 center a chance.
Prediction for Thabeet: 9 points 6 rebounds 2 blocks 0 all-star games
James Harden G-F 6'5 218 lbs Scouting Report
1987 Dennis Hopson 6'5 - Hopson was a total bust. He came out of college as a pure scorer, averaging 29 points a game his senior year. The whole offense was patterned to get him shots. When he was drafted 4th in the draft, expectations were high that he would continue to be the scorer he was in college. Off court troubles led to only 5 years in the NBA where he averaged just 10 points a game and shot only 27 percent from the 3 point line.
1988 Chris Morris 6'8 - Morris never really found a position that fit, was he a guard or a forward? He could shoot it from the 3 point line but also had the ability to slash to the hole. He averaged 11 points a game for his career but never made an all-star team.
1991 Billy Owens 6'8 - A little bit taller than Harden, Owens could score and had good handles like Harden. He was a crafty passer who was said to be the next "Magic Johnson". Owens never lived up to the hype and had a solid NBA career. Owens never made an all-star game and played in the NBA for 10 years but on 7 different teams.
Prediction for Harden: 14 points 5 rebounds 1 all-star game
The 2009 top 3 may have solid NBA careers but this class may also be one of the worst ever (at least the first 3 picks). You will not find a true superstar amongst them but I guess time will tell.
Top 5 Worst Draft Classes
1. 2000 Draft: Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, Mike Miller
2. 1989 Draft: Pervis Ellison, Danny Ferry, Sean Elliott, Glenn Rice, J.R. Reid
3. 1972 Draft: LaRue Martin, Bob McAdoo, Dwight Davis, Corky Calhoun, Fredie Boyd
4. 1973 Draft: Doug Collins, Jim Brewer, Ernie DiGregorio, Mike Green, Kermit Washington
5. 2006 Draft: Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge, Adam Morrison, Tryus Thomas, Shelden Williams (Bradon Roy at #6 helps this class slightly)