The 1996 NBA Draft brought in some of the best players to ever grace the NBA hardwood. Often considered one of, if not the greatest NBA draft class of all-time, this night has been looked back upon many of times by basketball fans, as one different selection in this draft could have changed the outlook of the league for years and years.
Every NBA franchise has a draft pick they wish they could take back. That is what makes the draft such an interesting time, as nobody really knows how the young players being picked will turn out. Each pick in the draft is like rolling dice because you never can really know what type of player you are actually going to get in the years to follow. That is all part of the excitement.
In this article, we will be going back in time and re-drafting the legendary 1996 NBA Draft, and deciding which teams the players in the first round should have actually gone to. The league would have looked a whole lot different if NBA teams knew how the players in the draft class would turn out.
Here is our re-draft of the legendary 1996 NBA Draft.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Kobe Bryant
Original selection: Allen Iverson
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. His prolific scoring throughout his illustrious career rivals that of Michael Jordan, as Kobe is often compared to Air Jordan as they both changed the game with their incredible play. If Philadelphia had the chance to go back in time and take Bryant with the 1st pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, they would do it, as he would have made them championship contenders for the majority of his long career.
Allen Iverson went on to have an iconic NBA career in Philadelphia, and is a fan favorite of 76ers fans everywhere, however many can agree that taking the hometown Bryant with the 1st pick in the draft would have been better for Philadelphia.
2. Toronto Raptors – Allen Iverson
Original Selection: Marcus Camby
The Raptors didn’t really cash in with their valuable second pick in this draft, as they selected the shot-blocking big man Marcus Camby, who did have a nice career of his own, but wasn’t an NBA legend like some of the guys taken after him. Allen Iverson was one of the NBA’s greatest guards of all time, as his exciting play had fans buzzing during his great time in the league. Iverson led Philadelphia to the 2001 NBA Finals, and even though he was never able to win an NBA championship, he is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. The Raptors would have loved to be able to draft Iverson instead of Camby today, as Iverson would have been the greatest Raptors player of all-time.
3. Vancouver Grizzlies – Steve Nash
Original selection: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
The Grizzlies aimed for creating a dominant front-court by drafting Shareef Abdul-Rahim to go with Bryant Reeves. The right pick was actually Steve Nash though, as the native Canadian would have been the Grizzlies’ first real franchise player, as Nash’s two-time MVP career was full of success…and assists. Nash would have been a nice addition to the team to dish out dimes and make the Grizzlies roster better with his play. Nash was a floor-general throughout his entire career as he was one of the most pure point-guards to ever play the game. Nash would have helped the Grizzlies be a great team early in their establishment and would have been a game-changer Vancouver should have taken. A Canadian star playing in Canada would have probably kept the Grizzlies in Vancouver.
4. Milwaukee Bucks: Ray Allen
Original selection: Stephon Marbury (traded to Minnesota for Ray Allen & first-rounder)
While the Bucks traded for Allen, this re-draft is being done without trades in mind.
The Bucks actually won out on this trade nicely in this one as they originally selected Stephon Marbury but traded him away on draft night for Ray Allen and a future first-rounder. This ended up being a great trade for the Bucks, as they got Allen, one of, if not the greatest shooter of all-time and a pick on top of that. Marbury was talented in his own right, but as we know, Allen was a great player throughout his time in the league as he could shoot the absolute lights out.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Peja Stojaković
Original selection: Stephon Marbury
Peja Stojaković was a dynamic scorer from Greece, who was selected by the Kings with the 14th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Peja’s career started slowly but after a few years in the league he blossomed into a dominant scorer who was scoring over 24 points a game as he could score from anywhere on the court. In this re-draft, we have Peja moving up a significant amount of spots, as the Timberwolves would have most likely took him with the 5th pick as he would have complimented Kevin Garnett very nicely as the two would have been a scary threat and would have been hard to stop together. Marbury was a solid player, but Stojaković would have been selected before him if there was a re-draft.
6. Boston Celtics – Marcus Camby
Original selection: Antoine Walker
Marcus Camby was taken with the 2nd pick in the talented 1996 NBA Draft, which in hindsight was just a bit too early considering the legends taken behind him. He was a big defensive minded big man from UMass, and enjoyed a very lengthy and pretty successful career in the league over the span of seven teams. Antoine Walker actually had a pretty nice career with the Celtics, but it never really turned into much success for Boston, and Camby would have been the defensive anchor night in and night out for the Celtics, who would have been a better team with him as they added pieces like Paul Pierce to the mix a few years later. Boston was definitely a better fit than Toronto.
7. Los Angeles Clippers – Stephon Marbury
Original selection: Lorenzen Wright
There is no doubt in the minds of basketball fans that the Clippers wasted their opportunity with the 7th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, as they took Lorenzen Wright who didn’t end up panning out with the Clippers. Marbury would have fit well in the Clippers system after being drafted as he would have probably been the best player on the team, and would have relished the opportunity to shine in a big city such as Los Angeles. His career would have turned out differently and for the better most likely if he slipped a few spots to the Clippers, as his time with Minnesota was short as he moved from team to team looking for the perfect home, when Los Angeles could have been the spot for him.
8. New Jersey Nets – Jermaine O’Neal
Original selection: Kerry Kittles
As with the Clippers with the pick before, the Nets didn’t cash in with their top ten draft pick in this draft. The Nets took Kerry Kittles, a dominant scorer during his time at Villanova, however Kittles’ talents in college didn’t translate to the league, as he was out of the league by a few years as he never made an impact with the team that drafted him. Jermaine O’Neal, while it took him a few years to develop into a great player, turned out to be a talented big man who was great with the Pacers in the prime of his career. O’Neal was originally taken with the 17th pick, and moved up a lot in this re-draft. And for good reason.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Original selection: Samaki Walker
The Mavericks originally took the shot blocking big man in Samaki Walker from Louisville. Samaki looked to be a solid pick with the 9th overall pick in the draft, however in this re-draft, the Mavericks would have been able to grab the lengthy scorer in Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who would have slipped from the 3rd pick in the draft to the 9th. This would have been better off for the Mavericks as Shareef, even though he shouldn’t have been drafted in the top 3, came into the league as a dominant scorer while Samaki never really lived up to being a top 10 draft selection. He even could have eventually been paired with Dirk Nowitski, who Dallas got a couple of years later.
10. Indiana Pacers – Ben Wallace
Original selection: Erick Dampier
Ben Wallace played two years of college basketball at both Cuyahoga CC and Virginia Union. The center went undrafted in the pool of players that could have been taken in the 1996 NBA Draft, which would not have happened if NBA franchises knew how Ben Wallace would turn out. It took him a few years once signing with the Wizards in his early years to develop into the excellent rebounder and defensive anchor he was with the Pistons. An NBA champion, Ben Wallace had a better career than Erick Dampier, meaning the undrafted Wallace could have gone in the top 10 of the greatest draft class of all-time. The Pacers sure could have used him in the late 90s when they were contending for championships.
11. Golden State Warriors – Antoine Walker
Original selection: Todd Fuller
The Golden State Warriors totally regret drafting Todd Fuller with the 10th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, as he is considered one of the bigger draft busts of all-time due to his below average career and the NBA stars drafted behind him. Antoine Walker was taken with the 6th pick in this draft, and had a pretty nice career during his time in Boston. He wasn’t worth taking with the 6th overall pick, and would actually end up being taken by the Golden State warriors five picks later in our re-draft. The Warriors missed out on the 1996 Draft night, and would be getting a much better player in this re-draft. Walker probably wouldn’t have brought them a championship, but he would have been a solid piece.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers – Derek Fisher
Original selection: Vitaly Potapenko
Derek Fisher never was an NBA superstar, but was a talented point guard in his own right for many of years in the association. He could shoot the ball better than most and had the ability to run an offense. He had a few big shots throughout his career, and the Cavaliers would have taken him to run their offense in this re-draft, as Vitaly Potapenko didn’t have the ability to due that obviously as he was a 6’10” big man. The Cavs would have been much better off taking Derek Fisher, who was a solid player throughout his 20 year career in the NBA. He wouldn’t have been a franchise player like LeBron, but he definitely would have given the Cavs more than Potapenko.
13. Charlotte Hornets – Erick Dampier
Original selection: Kobe Bryant
Man oh man do the Hornets wish they could go back to this night and keep their selection of Kobe Bryant to themselves instead of trading him for Vlade Divac to the Lakers. Kobe Bryant went on to have one of the greatest NBA careers of all-time, as he is considered one of the best basketball players to ever live. Kobe was taken 1st in this re-draft, meaning he would be long gone when the time the Hornets came up with the 13th pick.
They didn’t have a big man at this time which is why they traded Kobe for a center, so we have them taking Erick Dampier who was a solid big man throughout his career. The Hornets trading Kobe Bryant will forever be one of the biggest “what if” moments in NBA history.
14. Sacramento Kings – Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Original selection: Peja Stojaković
The Sacramento Kings got one of the biggest steal of the draft as they got an elite scorer with the last selection of the lottery picks. Peja was a great scorer throughout his playing days and the Kings definitely made the right choice taking him with the 14th pick. In this re-draft however, Peja would sadly be gone by this time as teams would understand his talent, so the Kings would have to settle for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had a very nice career in Cleveland as he could score in the paint and rebound the ball pretty well. While he’s no Peja Stojaković, the Kings would still be getting a nice player with the 14th pick in this 1996 NBA re-draft.
15. Phoenix Suns – Kerry Kittles
Original selection: Steve Nash
The Suns cashed in with their 15th overall selection in this draft, as they took the point guard from Santa Clara University, Steve Nash. Nash went on to be a two time NBA MVP on his way to becoming one of the greatest NBA point-guards of all-time. While he never led the Suns to any championships, they enjoyed a lot of success with Nash running their offense for years. Kerry Kittles on the other hand was taken with the 8th pick in this draft to the Nets, and while he did come into the league as a talented scorer, battled injuries throughout his career as he was out of the association before he reached 30 years of age. Maybe going to another team would have caused a chain reaction in a positive way for Kittles, as we have the Suns taking him with the 15th pick in the draft.
16. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Rose
Original selection: Tony Delk
The Hornets originally drafted Malik Rose with the 44th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, so it’s only right we have the same team taking him with their first round pick, as he would definitely be gone by the time their second round pick came up. Malik Rose was never a star in the league, but he still made his impact felt on a few different NBA teams, as he played a key role in two San Antonio teams that ended up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season. A good guy to have on a team, the Hornets would have been happy to take Rose with their 16th overall draft selection. It sure would have been an upgrade over Delk.
17. Portland Trail Blazers – Lorenzen Wright
Original selection: Jermaine O’Neal
Even though he never did anything special with the team that drafted him in the Trail Blazers, Portland had the right idea grabbing Jermaine O’Neal with the 17th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, as he ended up blossoming into one of the best players in the league. With O’Neal already off the board at this time, we have the Trail Blazers going with Lorenzen Wright. Wright was taken with the 7th pick in the draft to the Clippers, and sadly underachieved throughout his career as he never lived up to being a top ten draft pick especially in the greatest NBA Draft class of all-time.
Wright would have came into the Trail Blazers as a back up however, which could have altered the way he saw the game in his first few seasons which could have ended up with him having a better season in the end.
18. New York Knicks – Tony Delk
Original selection: John Wallace
We have Tony Delk slipping just two spots to the 18th pick from the 16th pick, meaning he would have suited up for the Knicks instead of the Hornets. Delk was a solid combo guard throughout his NBA career, as he even holds the fourth highest scoring total of the legendary 1996 NBA Draft, trailing Kobe’s 81, Iverson’s 60, and Ray Allen’s 54. Delk’s 53 point outburst showed the scoring potential Delk had, as he was a great scorer at Kentucky but never could dominate the NBA on a daily basis like he did that one special night. The Knicks would be getting a better player than their original pick John Wallace however, which is a win for New York fans.
19. New York Knicks – Jerome Williams
Original selection: Walter McCarty
Jerome “The Junkyard Dog” Williams would have been a perfect pick for the Knicks during the 90s, as he would have fit in nicely as he was a scrappy player who was never afraid to do the dirty work for his team. Walter McCarty wasn’t a bad pick for the Knicks however, but the play of Williams would have come in handy in the Knicks heated playoff series they seemed to always get into throughout the 90s. They also always seemed to come up short when it mattered the most. The Knicks had both the 18th and 19th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, and in this re-draft they got two solid players to help their team out. Not a bad draft, if you ask me.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers – Chucky Atkins
Original selection: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
The Cavs ended up getting their starting big man for years with this pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, as they went with Zydrunas Ilgauskas who turned out to be a very solid player throughout his time in Cleveland. With him off the board already, we have the Cavaliers taking someone who originally went un-drafted in the 1996 NBA Draft, in Chucky Atkins. Atkins was not taken by a team even though he turned out to be a pretty good player and he should have been taken with the 20th pick in the legendary 1996 NBA Draft. Sure this is a downgrade for the Cavs, but there really isn’t much choice. In most drafts though, Atkins would have gone higher.
21. New York Knicks – Walter McCarty
Original selection: Dontae Jones
The Knicks actually took Walter McCarty with the second half of their back to back picks with 18 and 19. In this re-draft we had them taking two better players, but it all comes back to Walter McCarty playing for the Knicks, as we have him being taken by the real team that drafted him just two picks later. McCarty didn’t do all that much in New York, but his hustle and energy on the court led him to have some nice years in Boston for the Celtics, as he became a fan favorite due to his hustle and heart. The Knicks had a multitude of picks in the first round, and we have them getting three solid picks for their selections.
22. Vancouver Grizzlies – Othella Harrington
Original selection: Roy Rogers
Othella Harrington was drafted with the 1st pick of the second round (30th) to the Houston Rockets, but the best days of his career came with the Vancouver Grizzlies, the team that should have taken him originally with their 22nd draft pick instead of Roy Rogers. Harrington’s career peaked after his first year with Vancouver, as he had career highs in many categories as he even averaged over 13 points per game during that season. Maybe Harrington’s career could have gone better if he went to the team he played the best with first, as he could have been a real asset for the Grizzlies up north. They just always seemed like a better fit for him as opposed to his other NBA teams.
23. Denver Nuggets – Shandon Anderson
Original selection: Efthimios Rentzias
Even though Shandon Anderson won an NBA championship as a bench player with the Heat, he did have some solid seasons throughout his 10 year career in the league. His best individual season was in 1990-00 where he averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 steals for the Houston Rockets. With a solid season like that, the Nuggets would have been better off grabbing him with their 23rd overall draft pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, as he had a much better career than Efthimios Rentzias who never even ended up playing for the Nuggets, playing just one season for the Philadelphia 76ers. While not a superstar, Anderson would have been a solid role player to add to the Nuggets’ core.
24. Los Angeles Lakers – Jeff McInnis
Original selection: Derek Fisher
The Lakers grabbed a key player in their championship runs with their 24th pick, as they took point-guard Derek Fisher who enjoyed a lengthy career in the NBA. While he was never the major star with the Lakers, Fisher was a very smart player and fit his role well on the Lakers. With Derek Fisher being selected to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 12th pick in this re-draft, the Lakers would have to settle for someone who had much less of a successful career. We have them taking Jeff McInnis, who was never the best player on his team, or very close to it for that matter, but what can you expect really as we are getting pretty deep into the draft at this point.
25. Utah Jazz – Adrian Griffin
Original selection: Martin Müürsepp
The ’96 Draft contained a few un-drafted guys who ended up having nice careers in the league. Adrian Griffin was one of those guys, as he wasn’t selected by an NBA team on draft night, but worked his way into the league and made his mark. The Jazz originally selected Martin Müürsepp, who never played for the Jazz, as he only spent two seasons in the league before he was back overseas. Müürsepp was a classic case of a European player who never panned out in the big leagues.
26. Detroit Pistons – Vitaly Potapenko
Original selection: Jerome Williams
Vitaly Potapenko. A name Cavaliers fans hate hearing, as he was drafted just one pick before the Hornets drafted Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick. Obviously Kobe had a much better career than Vitaly, as it is crazy to think the Cavaliers could have gotten one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, but instead they went with Vitaly Potapenko. Vitaly was definitely a bust, but we don’t have him completely slipping out of the first round, as we have the Pistons taking him with the 26th pick. Detroit got a nice player originally with Jerome Williams being this selection, but maybe Vitaly could have had a better career if he was drafted where he should have been instead of one before Kobe Bryant.
27. Orlando Magic – Moochie Norris
Original selection: Brian Evans
Moochie Norris was definitely not one of the most athletically gifted players in this draft class, but he still found a way to find a home in the league, even though he was waived by the team that drafted him in the Milwaukee Bucks (33rd pick overall). Moochie was mostly known for his crazy afro he sported during his time with the Rockets, which even led to the team making him his own bobble head, which is pretty crazy considering he didn’t do all that much on the court to garner it. A fan favorite indeed though, Moochie Norris had a nice career in the league as a journeyman. Who knows how he could have done with Shaq and Penny Hardaway leading the way in Orlando?
28. Atlanta Hawks – Samaki Walker
Original selection: Priest Lauderdale
Samaki Walker was one of the biggest busts of the 1996 NBA Draft, as he was taken with the 9th pick to the Dallas Mavericks, who missed on some serious talent as they used their pick for Walker, who we have slipping to the 28th pick of the draft. Walker didn’t do anything of note in the NBA, which is why he is considered such a bad pick as the Mavericks used their top ten draft selection in one of the best draft classes of all-time on a guy who didn’t even play in one all-star game. Here we have the Hawks taking him with the 28th pick overall, as his career resembled more of a late first rounder, not a top ten pick at all.
29. Chicago Bulls – Travis Knight
Original selection: Travis Knight
With the 29th and final pick in our 1996 NBA Re-Draft, we have the Chicago Bulls taking who they originally selected on draft night, Travis Knight from UConn. The center never really amounted too much in the league, but nothing was really expected from the four year college player, as he was drafted to fill in a backup center role and his four years at college helped him transition into the NBA easier than others. He holds the NBA Playoff record for quickest disqualification, having fouled out in six minutes in Game 4 of the 1999 Western Conference semi-finals. So there’s that I guess… Considering that the Bulls followed the 1996 draft with two more championships, there’s not much to change here.
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