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Re-Draft 1996: How The NBA Would Look IF Kobe Bryant Was Selected First Overall

If every NBA franchise owner were given one free wish from a magical genie, it would not take them very long to agree on asking for the ability to see every single current and future NBA player's future in the league.

The NBA would become a fun league that no longer revolves around acquiring as many All-Stars as possible in order to compete. Instead, since owners would be able to see the future, the draft would be perfect, every single year. The first pick would be the best overall player and there will be no more undrafted superstars.

But since magic is not real, and the only Genie you can find today is stuck in a lamp in a the fictional Disney town of Agrabah, all we can do is go back in time and pretend we had a perfect draft in 1996, when Kobe Bryant was taken 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, and most of the league dreams about going back in time to do it right the first time by taking him instead of passing on him.

The year is 1996. Kobe Bryant is selected first overall. What does that do to the NBA? How does that change anything and ruin everything for most teams?

Sorry, Laker fans, do not get offended but we are going to see what life would be like if Kobe never did make it to Hollywood.

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29 Philadelphia 76ers: Kobe Bryant, SG

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Original Selection: Allen Iverson, SG

There is little doubt that wherever Kobe Bryant ended up, he was going to become great. He just so happened to wind up in LA and the rest was history. But if the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him instead of Allen Iverson, would the 76ers have gone down the same path?

He would have joined Jerry Stackhouse, Derrick Coleman, and Clarence Weatherspoon and would have struggled during his rookie year just to find shots.

But in year two, he would have been a part of a defensive juggernaut and would have taken off. The 76ers would have won some titles because Shaq might not ever leave Orlando knowing Kobe was not there.

28 Toronto Raptors: Allen Iverson, SG

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Original Selection: Marcus Camby, C

Sorry, Doug Christie, but if the Toronto Raptors had the chance to land Allen Iverson with the second pick, they would do it 100% of the time and he would become the team's starting shooting guard replacing you.

That could have turned the Raptors into quite the team because Allen Iverson would not be expected to run the point, he could be free to play shooting guard and be himself.

Let's not forget that in two years time, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady would be joining this team. Talk about a scary lineup back in 1999.

27 Vancouver Grizzlies: Steve Nash, PG

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Original Selection: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, F

The brilliance of Steve Nash is that he was not just an All-Star point guard, he was a two-time MVP that might just be the best shooting point guard in NBA history. He was able to elevate everyone around him, regardless of where he ended up.

Back in 1996, the Vancouver Grizzlies were stacked with young guys looking to become NBA stars. Moochie Norris and Roy Rogers were two other players they drafted that year. Steve Nash might not have been able to take this team to the NBA Finals but he would have been able to get them closer than Greg Anthony could.

26 Milwaukee Bucks: Ben Wallace, C

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Original Selection: Stephon Marbury, PG

It was tough to change this pick from Ray Allen to anyone else because the one thing that the 1996-97 Milwaukee Bucks needed, more than anything, was playmakers that could score some points. They were pretty good defensively and that was part of the reason they finished that season 33-49, and that was with Ray Allen scoring 13.4 points a game.

Ben Wallace would not be giving you many points but he was, and still is, one of the greatest pure defenders, and rebounders, the game has ever seen. He was able to close out opponents and find the ball every single time down the court.

The biggest benefit to drafting Ben Wallace would have been his ability to get the offensive rebounds. Second-chance points is one of the most overlooked stat in the NBA and he was the king of offensive rebounding.

25 Minnesota Timberwolves: Ray Allen, SG

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Original Selection: Ray Allen, SG

There is so much talent at the top of this list, it is hard to imagine Ray Allen still being taken fifth overall, and not any higher. But there is very good reason he still goes to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it is because they traded this pick to get Stephon Marbury in 1996 and are now given a second shot at redemption.

Right away, he would have helped turn the T'Wolves into a contender because of his ability to spread the floor and open the court up for Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta, two of the league's best big men. We eventually did get to see Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen join forces in Boston and it led to a NBA title.

24 Boston Celtics: Stephon Marbury, PG

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Original Selection: Antoine Walker, F

At this point in the draft, since we are in 1996 right now, and we already know what each of these guys are going to do with their NBA career, the best player on the board would be Stephon Marbury, Georgia Tech's superstar point guard and one of the NBA's most underrated talents ever.

For 13 seasons, Stephon Marbury was the most talented superstar that no one wanted to deal with because he was always feuding with teammates and demanding to be traded because he was always about himself. However, he was a scoring point guard before the league truly understood what that was and when you compare his stats to Steve Nash, he has more points, rebounds, and steals than him while only having less than one assist per game.

If you could handle his attitude, and his drama in the locker room, then you could end up with someone who was an easy 20 points and 9.0 assists a night, ridiculous numbers for a point guard that shoots as much as he did.

23 Los Angeles Clippers: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, SF

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Original Selection: Lorenzen Wright, C

At 31 years of age, one of the best all-around NBA athletes you already forgot about, was forced into early retirement following a chronic knee issue that he had suffered with for most of his career. However, he never missed a single game due to injury until the 2004-05 season when it got to be too much to handle.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim averaged 34.2 minutes, 18.1 points , 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game throughout his career. There have only been 20 other NBA players in league history to achieve those same numbers. Yet, because he never was able to win games as a result of his talents, he ended up being a scapegoat for a few teams leading to him being traded twice, in blockbuster deals.

The LA Clippers would have gotten a much needed boost in 1996 by drafting him to join Loy Vaught, Malik Sealy, Rodney Rogers, Bo Outlaw, and Darrick Martin. That team needed a big-time scorer.

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22 New Jersey Nets: Marcus Camby, C

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Original Selection: Kerry Kittles, G

The 1996-97 New Jersey Nets had eight different players average more than 12 points per game. That did not add up to many wins, as they finished the season 26-56, but it was fun to see as they were led by first year head coach John Calipari, who had left UMass to join the NBA.

While at UMass, Calipari was gifted with an amazingly talented athlete named Marcus Camby. Marcus Camby and John Calipari became a scary combination and they ended up going to the Final Four in 1996.

So this would be the easiest selection of the entire re-draft because John Calipari is not going to pass on Marcus Camby, after spending the past three years watching him turn into a superstar.

21 Dallas Mavericks: Bruce Bowen, SF

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Original Selection: Samaki Walker, F

The Dallas Mavericks drafted Samaki Walker with the ninth overall pick in 1996 because they saw what he did at the University of Louisville, in just two seasons. They saw the game film of him getting the school's first ever triple-double in the biggest game of their season, when they faced their rivals, the Kentucky Wildcats. He scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 11 shots.

Samaki Walker was a monster but that was in college. He was never able to build up enough strength and power to be that dominate in the NBA. So, looking back, the Mavericks would have had to take defensive stud Bruce Bowen, who is a eight time NBA All-Defensive team selection. He was never a scorer, rebounder, or passer, he was simply a on-ball defender that was tasked with having to guard players like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade, Jason Richardson, and many other superstar guards.

20 Indiana Pacers: Jermaine O'Neal, PF

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Original Selection: Erick Dampier, C

Jermaine O'Neal's career did not start until he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in 2000. A deal that would not have needed to go down if the Pacers simply knew the future and could see that they should select him 10th overall in 1996 instead of Erick Dampier, who only spent one season in Indiana before being sent to the Golden State Warriors.

If not for battling multiple injuries throughout his career, Jermaine O'Neal might have been able to sustain his numbers from his amazing 2004-05 season when he averaged 24.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. He was only 18 years old when he joined the NBA so by the time he started producing those type of digits, he was only 26 years old. Injury problems or not, based on what is left in this draft, he is a no-brainer.

19 Golden State Warriors: Peja Stojakovic, SF

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Original Selection: Todd Fuller, C

Before the Golden State Warriors built a dynasty around three of the greatest NBA shooters ever, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson, there was the Sacramento Kings and this Serbian athlete with one of the weirdest-looking shots in the league that could not be stopped once he hit his stride.

Peja Stojakovic was so exciting to watch because he was able to average nearly 20 points per game throughout his career simply from shooting the ball outside. After his final season, he was the NBA record holder for most three-pointers made. He has since been passed by Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, and Ray Allen.

Put him on the Warriors a decade and a half before their current dynasty and who knows what else could change for their future.

18 Cleveland Cavaliers: Antoine Walker, PF

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Original Selection: Vitaly Potapenko, C

Antoine Walker joined the NBA when he was just 20 years old, giving him a head start that most of the other rookies did not have because he left college after his sophomore season. It did not even take long before the youngster was leading the Boston Celtics in scoring, when he averaged 17.5 points in his rookie year. He also had 9.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game that year, giving them quite the value in their selection.

But when you break down the rest of the draft prospects, even knowing Antoine Walker would give you a good seven or eight seasons of 20 or more points per night, he ends up in the 12th spot, being taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs already had some serious scorers but you can never have too many scorers, right?

17 Charlotte Hornets: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C

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Original Selection: Kobe Bryant, SG

Before the Cleveland Cavaliers added LeBron James to their roster in 2003, they were slowly building a legit roster around the beast from Russia, Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Many NBA fans might not have realized that Ilgauskas was actually an All-Star the year before LeBron James joined him in Cleveland. He had his best season that same year, when he averaged 17.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. But since they added LeBron a year later, many fans combined his great career with the fact that he had a legendary teammate leading the way.

16 Sacramento Kings: Kerry Kittles, SG

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Original Selection: Peja Stojakovic, SF

At Villanova University, Kerry Kittles was one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. He owns a ton of school records including most points and most steals for a career. For his final three years at Villanova, he averaged 19 or more points per game and was a Big East Player of the Year.

He was tall for a shooting guard and was especially quick heading into the NBA. So it was a no-brainer that he would end up becoming a top-eight pick in 1996. But after he entered the NBA, it was not long before he became exposed and became nothing more than a streaky shooter that battled injuries for much of his career.

15 Phoenix Suns: Derek Fisher, PG

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Original Selection: Steve Nash, PG

Consistency is key and when it came to Derek Fisher. That is exactly what he was, consistent. He was consistently healthy and played in just about every single game for the first 15 years of his career before his age caught up to him and things started to change.

He was never a stud at the PG position but he was a leader that knew how to manage an offense. He was a five-time NBA Champion after spending much of his career with the Lakers. At the 15th spot on this list, and with Derek still on the board, this is a steal for the Phoenix Suns but not quite Steve Nash.

14 Charlotte Hornets: Erick Dampier, C

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Original Selection: Tony Delk, PG

The Charlotte Hornets won 54 games during the 1996-97 NBA season because they had superstars all over the place, all in their prime. Anthony Mason, Glen Rice, Vlade Divac, Dell Curry, Ricky Pierce, and Muggsy Bogues were the leaders of the best Hornets team in franchise history but ended up getting upset by the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

The one place the team struggled in, that was very apparent when the playoffs began, was on defense. They might have been top-five across the board on offense, but they were terrible rebounding and blocking shots. In other words, the two areas that Erick Dampier would help them is exactly what they needed that season.

13 Portland Trail Blazers: Jerome Williams, PF

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Original Selection: Jermaine O'Neal, F/C

You do not earn a nickname like "Junkyard Dog" because you play very timid and shy. You get a name like that because you bust your tail on defense. Jerome Williams played some of the toughest defense in the NBA but was never a stat king and found himself always on the outside looking in.

For someone that played nine seasons in the NBA, it is hard to believe he was traded four different times including before he was ever drafted. He was best known for his rebounding and was constantly aggravating his opponents by playing the toughest, and roughest, defense that had ever seen.

Portland was always a tough defensive team, by adding Jerome Williams back in 1996, they could have done a little bit of damage around the league.

12 New York Knicks: Tony Delk, G

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Original Selection: John Wallace, F

By his senior season at Kentucky, Tony Delk was one of the nation's best shooters, hitting 93 3-point field goals in 210 attempts, which is good enough for a shooting percentage of 44.3%. That was scary good back in 1996, long before anyone knew about Stephen Curry and his ability to hit from anywhere on the court.

But one of the biggest reasons Tony Delk never turned into the same stud of a shooter in the NBA was a combination of his size and the poor luck of playing for the wrong teams, at the wrong times. He showed signs of his abilities to score from outside but could never get himself enough playing time to really get heated up.

The reason he should go to the Knicks is simple, he would be a sixth man for a team that was already set up to win it all.

11 New York Knicks: Jeff McInnis, PG

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Original Selection: Walter McCarty, F

When he entered the NBA, Jeff McInnis had already established himself as a selfish role player that was going to focus on getting his numbers instead of helping the team win. He had the natural ability to score from all over the court but the reason he averaged 12 points a game, during the peak of his career, was because he was shooting the ball 15 times a night, while only having a 43.1% shooting percentage.

Every team he went to would end up discovering for themselves just how selfish Jeff McInnis was and would cut his minutes throughout the season, usually leading to a trade, which he was, five times.

Once again, the New York Knicks were already built to be a contender and still had plenty of draft picks in this draft. They would be one of the only teams he would fit right in because of how well they were built internally. Those players would never had to deal with his selfish play, they would have straightened him out right away.

10 Cleveland Cavaliers: Lorenzen Wright, C

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Original Selection: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C

Lorenzen Wright's sad story officially began at the University of Memphis where he spent two seasons leading the Tigers in scoring and rebounding. In his final season, he also led them in blocked shots, averaging roughly two per game.

At 6'11", 225 pounds, Lorenzen Wright was not the biggest center in the draft but he was way ahead of his time. If he had been drafted in the last four years, he would have been able to find a home in this league. He ended up reaching his peak after 2000 when he started getting more minutes but he was not able to maintain it past three seasons.

Two years after he retired, he was found dead from multiple gun shot wounds in the woods in Collierville, Tennessee. It took police seven years to find the murderers and it turned out that one was allegedly his ex-wife, who apparently did it for the insurance money.

9 New York Knicks: Vitaly Potapenko, C

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Original Selection: Dontae Jones, F

Although the 1996-97 Cleveland Cavaliers had a ton of scorers, they had several issues on defense and one of them was right in the middle of the floor, where they desperately needed a big man to help secure some rebounds and make some big blocks. For a man widely considered a draft bust, he still managed to play until 2007 while averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

But the thing that can really hurt a player's confidence is when he is drafted very high and ends up struggling right away, leading to even more pressure for him to raise up his game. It did not help that Kobe Bryant was drafted behind him neither.

It seems that the Knicks had five or six first round picks in 1996 but, once again, that would only allow them the ability to add even more prospects.

8 Vancouver Grizzlies: Shandon Anderson, SG

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Original Selection: Roy Rogers, F

When fans consider a player a bust, simply because of their bad fortune, what they might not realize is that they are still a NBA player and that means they earned their spot in the league. If given the same chances as most of the other players in the league, there are good odds that they will be able to put up career numbers.

Shandon Anderson was never a stud. He was a roster spot that was a career backup for much of his life. But when he did get to start, and was playing 32 minutes a game, he had career bests across the board, in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.

If the Vancouver Grizzlies had a second shot at this selection, there is no chance they take Roy Rogers again. Instead, they go with a guy who has the potential to help them win some games.

7 Denver Nuggets: Malik Rose, PF

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Original Selection: Efthimios Rentzias, C

After spending his rookie season with the Charlotte Hornets, the team that drafted him, Malik Rose ended up signing with the San Antonio Spurs the following summer, which turned out to be the best move of his career. It would lead to two NBA titles and he was a major part of that team too. He was not just an overrated benchwarmer.

Malik Rose was not going to score a ton of points, grab double digit boards, or dish five to six dimes a game, but he was going to play tough on defense, steal some minutes while the starters rested, and work his opponents each night. He was able to grit and grind his way into a 13-year career where he played in 82 playoff games.

6 Los Angeles Lakers: Othella Harrington, PF

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Original Selection: Derek Fisher, PG

When Othella Harrington was sent to Vancouver, that was when he exploded into the kid NBA scouts had seen at Georgetown University. That season, he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game while starting all 82 games. Not even a year later, he was traded to the New York Knicks and things took a turn for the worse.

He never came close to his amazing 1999-00 season in Vancouver because of a combination of injuries and getting playing time. He was basically the odd man out on the teams he wound up with after the Grizzlies sent him loose.

At this point in the draft, he truly is the best option and is worth a shot.

5 Utah Jazz: Samaki Walker, C

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Original Selection: Martin Muursepp, F

There is a huge difference between the college game and the NBA. The NBA is much faster and almost every single starter was once considered the best in the country in college. So when a player shines at the University of Louisville, that does not always translate into success at the next level.

Just do not tell the Dallas Mavericks that because they originally took Samaki Walker, the stud forward from Louisville, with the ninth overall pick in the draft. However, knowing what we know about Samaki Walker today, that he was never tall enough to play in the NBA, they might have allowed him to fall and this would be the perfect landing spot for him.

4 Detroit Pistons: John Wallace, SF

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Original Selection: Jerome Williams, F

When it comes to the NBA Draft, one of the most important aspects of these young prospects that a pro scout studies is how they handle the scheduling, questioning, and pressure that comes with playing in the big leagues. So if a prospect ends up starting off on the wrong foot, it is tough to bounce back. That reputation carries over from team to team until the entire league is on notice.

John Wallace was a superior talent at Syracuse and was considered the best offensive talent in the draft. However, a story about how he missed the team bus because he overslept arose and it was packaged with another rumor that he was out of shape during team workouts.

That sent him falling down to the 18th pick in the draft that year but should have gone much higher. So there is a great chance that if he went to another franchise, his career would have been much better.

3 Orlando Magic: Walter McCarty, PF

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Original Selection: Brian Evans, F

When given the proper amount of playing time, some of the NBA's most medicore of players can still develop into something more. For example, Walter McCarty spent his second season as the Boston Celtics starting small forward and started in 64 games where he averaged 9.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. He also played nearly 30 minutes per game that year.

The next season, he ended up coming off the bench and only played in 32 games due to injury, watching his playing time diminish down to 20 per game. It was a slow decline over the next couple of years as he would find himself in a constant battle for playing time.

He was best known for his hustle on both ends of the court and was one of those players that never really averaged a lot of points but was able to play tough defense and earn himself playing time.

2 Atlanta Hawks: Erick Strickland, G

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Original Selection: Priest Lauderdale, C

The back end of the first round of the 1996 draft was not the deepest in recent memory, so there are going to be a few guys that teams would have no choice but to take, knowing that they are going to give them good, not great, numbers.

For the Dallas Mavericks, they noticed Erick Strickland shortly after he went undrafted and decided to bring him in for a tryout. They signed him right away and he eventually, four years later, would become the teams starting SG. That season, he averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. It was the height of his career and instead of building on that momentum, he wound up being sent to New York where his career came crashing back down to reality.

1 Chicago Bulls: Moochie Norris, PG

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Original Selection: Travis Knight, C

When the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Moochie Norris back in 1996, they had plans to use the guard because they drafted him fourth overall in the second round. NBA teams do not waste draft picks so the Bucks were going to hope for a bright future with Moochie.

However, he never even made the roster and was waived by November. That was when he bounced around the league, going from team to team, fighting for each and every spot he got. He is a fighter and never gave up, which is why he played nine years in the league.

If the Bulls were able to do things all over again, he would be their best option at the 29th selection.

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