Everyone knows hindsight is always 20/20, and several NBA franchises would love the luxury of retrospection when it comes to the 1998 NBA Draft. Four members of the 1998 draft class scored over 20,000 points during their NBA careers. This new re-draft list includes six different All-Stars.
With hindsight in mind, there are a few individuals missing from the original first 20 selections. The original number one pick doesn't make our top 20 re-draft. Michael Olowokandi's NBA career was derailed from the beginning with poor performances and nagging injuries. The seven-footer from Lagos, Nigeria is considered by many to be one of the greatest busts in NBA draft history. Along that same thought, Mirsad Turkcan doesn't make this re-draft either. As the original 18th pick of the 1998 NBA draft, Turkcan played in a total of only 17 NBA games.
Honorable mentions should go to the three individuals who fall just outside the top 20 re-draft: Rafer Alston, Nazr Mohammed and Pat Garrity.
Rafer Alston was originally drafted with the 39th pick to Milwaukee. Known for his street-ball skills, Alston had a rough transition into the NBA game. Time and practice helped Alston play point guard in the NBA for more than 10 years.
Nazr Mohammed, the 29th pick in the 1998 NBA draft, was the last pick of the first round, and played 17 seasons in the NBA. The former center from the University of Kentucky just retired from the NBA in the fall of 2015.
Despite playing in the NBA for 10 years, Pat Garrity is largely known for being involved in the three-team trade that brought Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash together in Dallas. He was originally drafted with the 19th pick to Milwaukee; however, he started his career in Phoenix after the trades.
In this re-draft, the ripple effect of that trade will not take place, along with several others. The 'What if?' scenarios are endless, but the only place to start is with the new number one selection.
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20 Los Angeles Clippers - Dirk Nowitzki
Original selection: Michael Olowokandi
Dirk Nowitzki is arguably the greatest European to play in the NBA, ever. The athletic, sharp-shooting big man has a full resume of almost everything there is to win in the NBA. Nowitzki won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in the 2006-07 season. The 13-time All-Star won the NBA Finals' Most Valuable Player Award in 2011 when he captured his one championship ring. Back in that 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki played more clutch than LeBron James. Remember when Nowitzki put the moves on Haslem to win a game with a layup. More importantly, Nowitzki made free-throw after free-throw to secure the title. The seven-footer was automatic game after game.
Apparently not everyone was sold on Dirk Nowitzki before the 1998 draft, but the beauty of time has proven those naysayers wrong, very wrong. The Mavericks had there eye on the three-point shooter and calculated a three-team trade to facilitate it. The trade changed the Mavericks' poor recent history. Nowitzki turned out to be tougher and more athletic than anybody had imagined, but it's tough to think the lanky German would have changed the bad Clippers' franchise. Nowitzki and the Clippers would have remained overshadowed in L.A. with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal on the Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki would still be an All-Star, but it's unlikely he would have won a title. Maybe Nowitzki would have lucked out in free-agency; however, it's good for the sharp-shooter that he ended in Dallas. Nowitzki still plays for the Mavericks.
19 Vancouver Grizzles - Paul Pierce
Original selection: Mike Bibby
Paul Pierce is known for a lot of things; however, Pierce is largely known for being clutch in big moments. Pierce has an impressive career postseason average of 20 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. The 10-time All-Star was named the Finals Most Valuable Player during the Celtics championship 2007-08 season. Paul Pierce and former teammate Kevin Garnett are the only two active players with 25,000+ career points, 7,000+ rebounds and 4,500+ assists. After the 'Original Big Three' disbanded, the veteran Pierce still had value as a clutch shooter. He validated his position in Washington with a buzzer-beater in the postseason. Paul Pierce is currently wit Clippers roster.
Although they won only one title with the 'Original Big Three', the Boston Celtics played a pivotal role in the Eastern Conference for the better part of a decade. Pierce and the Celtics constantly played the foil to LeBron James and Cleveland. Before the Celtics became champions again, Pierce had to weather through good-scoring seasons on bad Celtics' teams. Paul Pierce would have done the same thing in Vancouver before the team went to Memphis. The Grizzlies would be far away from a title run, but if Pierce would have waited long enough, he might have played with Rudy Gay, Paul Gasol, Zach Randolph or maybe even Marc Gasol. Clutch shooting on a good defensive team in Memphis, sounds similar to the 'Original Big Three'.
18 Denver Nuggets - Vince Carter
Original selection: Raef LaFrentz
Vince Carter could make a solid argument for being number one in the re-draft. Carter was named the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1998 draft class. The former North Carolina shooting guard was able to adapt to the NBA quickly because of his athleticism and quickness. He's an eight-time All-Star who always played on teams that got close to a championship but fell short. This would have been the same situation in Denver. The former NBA Dunk Contest winner once almost caused an international incident during an Olympic game. How? He dunked over a center for the opposing team, as in completely over him. Carter's crotch passed over the center's no-fly zone, and it could have been the start of World War III. Carter was definitely the number one athlete in the 1998 NBA Draft class. He currently plays for Memphis.
17 Toronto Raptors - Antawn Jamison
Original selection: Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the 1998 NBA Draft, and then immediately traded to Golden State for the next draft selection, Vince Carter. With Carter already off the board in the re-draft, the Raptors would likely take the best available player, Antawn Jamison in this case -- again. Jamison was a two-time league All-Star and won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 2004. Jamison would have played well in Toronto; however, that team needed more than Jamison with the players around him. Toronto really needed Vince Carter, or at least a superstar like him. Antawn Jamison retired from the NBA in 2014 after a successful 16 seasons.
16 Golden State Warriors - Rashard Lewis
Original selection: Vince Carter
Golden State missed out on Antawn and Vince, but the franchise made the correct decision with the aid of hindsight. Originally the 32nd overall pick, Lewis was the last player selected of those in attendance on draft day. That means Lewis sweated in the green room as everyone else got picked before him. Luckily, Rashard Lewis gets selected where he deserves on this list. Lewis was a two-time NBA All-Star and won a NBA championship with Miami. Although it was a veteran role in Miami, Lewis still played important defensive during Game 3 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. Rashard Lewis has not played since the 2014 season; however, Lewis made the second-highest jump in the re-draft.
15 Dallas Mavericks - Brad Miller
Original selection: Robert Traylor
Brad Miller made the highest jump in our 1998 NBA re-draft. The player from Purdue went un-drafted in 1998 and later signed with the Charlotte Hornets. Miller played in the NBA All-Star game two times during his 14-seasons. He played for a total of six different NBA teams. The re-draft hurt the Mavericks most because Dirk Nowitzki can't end up in Dallas now. Miller was an athletic big man that didn't fit the traditional mold. With proficient shooting and fantastic passing skills, Miller could have helped the Mavericks, but he wouldn't be the German sharp-shooter that Dallas really needed.
14 Sacramento Kings - Mike Bibby
Original selection: Jason Williams
Looking back with the luxury of time, this selection is funny because these two players get traded in three years. Bibby went to Vancouver with the second pick in 1998, and Sacramento drafted Jason Williams. Since Mike Bibby dropped in the re-draft, the Kings get to select the point-guard they apparently desired. Sacramento won't have to trade in 2001 to upgrade to the former Arizona point guard. Through Bibby's first 10 seasons, he averaged 16.6 points and 6.2 assists per game. Mike Bibby in Sacramento three years earlier wouldn't have changed the Lakers' dominance in the Western Conference.
13 Philadelphia 76ers - Raef LaFrentz
Original selection: Larry Hughes
Raef LaFrentz followed Mike Bibby's selection during the 1998 draft, and LaFrentz does the same thing for the re-draft. LaFrentz would have helped stabilize the 76ers' front-court. Although actual draft pick Larry Hughes was a huge contributor for the 76ers, the center from Iowa might have been the perfect compliment to point-guard Allen Iverson. Could LaFrentz have been a difference maker during the 2001 NBA Finals? That's the finals when Iverson tried to beat the Lakers by himself. It's tough to imagine anybody beating Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. Raef LaFrentz played in the NBA for more than 10 years. He averaged 10.1 and 6.1 rebounds per game during his career.
12 Milwaukee Bucks - Robert Traylor
Original selection: Dirk Nowitzki
This re-draft selection seems justified since Milwaukee wanted Robert 'Tractor' Traylor back in 1998. Traylor was projected to be an early selection back then, which is why Dallas picked the Michigan power forward sixth overall. Trading 'Tractor' Traylor ultimately allowed Dallas to get Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash together. Traylor battled weight problems throughout his career; however, he played a solid role position on several NBA teams. He played seven seasons in the NBA before talking his career international. In 2011, Robert Traylor passed away suddenly from an apparent heart attack. His death shocked friends and family. Traylor was talking on the phone with his wife when he suffered the heart attack. The phone call was dropped suddenly, and his wife called other people to check on him. He was 34 years old when he passed away.
11 Boston Celtics - Larry Hughes
Original selection: Paul Pierce
The Boston Celtics lucked out in 1998 when Philadelphia passed on Paul Pierce for swing-man Larry Hughes. Pierce turned into the Celtics' foundation, but Pierce got selected way too early in the re-draft. Hughes is the best available player and still a solid selection for the Celtics. Larry Hughes played 13 seasons in the NBA for eight different teams. He was known for his versatility and defensive skills. In 2005, Hughes led the league in steals and made the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Would Hughes fill Pierce's superstar shoes in Boston? No offense to Hughes but probably not. Larry Hughes last played in 2012 for the Orlando Magic.
10 Detroit Pistons - Jason Williams
Original selection: Bonzi Wells
Jason 'White Chocolate' Williams would have stolen the show anywhere he played. Williams was known for having flashy style and smooth ball-handling skills, which earned Williams his nickname. Williams always made the difficult pass, and he threw it behind his back whenever possible. He once threw a behind-the-back, no-look elbow pass in an All-Star Weekend game. Jason Williams was considered too turnover-prone and eventually traded from Sacramento for Mike Bibby. Williams improved his ball control and ultimately played for five NBA teams.
Jason Williams was the starting point guard on the 2006 Miami Heat championship team. Nobody remembers him on a team with Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O'Neal; however, Williams earned his championship ring. He finished with a career average of 10.5 points and 5.9 assists per game. How would Williams have change Detroit's future? Would Detroit still have signed Chauncey Billups in 2002? Is Williams used to get Billups earlier? One thing is certain, the Detroit Pistons don't win a title in 2004 without Chauncey Billups.
9 Orlando Magic - Bonzi Wells
Original selection: Michael Doleac
Bonzi Wells was selected by the Pistons in 1998, but he actually never played in Detroit. Wells was traded to Portland and played more than five seasons for the Trailblazers. Wells helped Portland win some playoff games, but the team couldn't get past the Lakers. He played for four other teams during his 10-year NBA career. Wells played best as a swing-man, which allowed him to use his size and athleticism. It's tough to predict incidences, but Wells might have gotten in less off-court trouble in Orlando. Unlike playing with the Trailblazers, Orlando didn't include the bad-influence of Rasheed Wallace. Florida certainly has its own vices. Who knows? Either way, Bonzi Wells could have helped in Orlando during the post Shaq-era.
8 Orlando Magic - Michael Doleac
Original selection: Keon Clark
Michael Doleac fell one spot in the re-draft, but he still ends up in Orlando because the team had back-to-back picks. The former University of Utah big man entered the NBA after losing in the 1998 NCAA National Championship game to Kentucky. The March Madness spotlight probably helped Doleac's draft number, and he worked that into a 10-season NBA career. While playing for Miami, Doleac played the back-up role to Shaquille 'Superman' O'Neal. Michael Doleac won a championship ring while playing for the 2006 Miami Heat. Doleac retired from the NBA in 2008.
7 Houston Rockets - Michael Dickerson
Original selection: Michael Dickerson
Even with the aid of hindsight, the Rockets would still have selected Michael Dickerson with the 14th pick. Houston already had Hakeem Olajuwon as an inside threat. Although Olajuwon was getting older, Dickerson filled the more immediate need of outside shooting. Dickerson only played five NBA seasons but averaged 15.4 points per game. Dickerson left the NBA in 2003 because of worsening injuries. He failed at attempting a comeback in 2008. Dickerson participated in the Cleveland Cavaliers training camp that year but got waived before the season started.
6 Orlando Magic - Keon Clark
Original selection: Matt Harpring
During the post Shaq-era in Orlando, Keon Clark could have helped in the paint. The former UNLV Running Rebel played six NBA seasons for five different teams. With well rounded skills, Keon Clark averaged 8.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He once blocked 12 shots in a game when playing for Toronto. That's still the Raptors' franchise single-game record. That inside presence would have helped Orlando, but Clark went 13th overall in 1998. His post-NBA life turned sad when Keon Clark was sentenced to 8 years in prison on weapons charges.
5 Houston Rockets - Matt Harpring
Original selection: Bryce Drew
Matt Harpring fell one spot in the re-draft. Harpring originally started in Orlando, but he played for four different NBA teams throughout his 11-season career. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for his career. His best seven seasons came with the Utah Jazz. Great teammates like John Stockton and Karl Malone allowed Harpring to showcase his skills better. He finished his playing career in Utah in 2009.
4 Minnesota Timberwolves - Bryce Drew
Original selection: Rasho Nesterovic
Bryce Drew was well known going into the 1998 NBA Draft. During the first round of the 1998 NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Valparaiso point guard made an improbable, buzzer-beating shot. That shot gained Drew the notoriety he needed to be drafted high. Drew was Valparaiso's first ever NBA first round pick. Minnesota couldn't have passed on that positive media. Bryce Drew ultimately played six years in the NBA, generally as a solid backup point guard. After his playing career, Drew got into coaching and works as the head coach for his former college team, Valparaiso.
3 Houston Rockets - Rasho Nesterovic
Original selection: Mirsad Turkcan
The Houston Rockets make a good decision in the re-draft and get rewarded with a perfect compliment to veteran center Hakeem Olajuwon. Rasho Nesterovic played 11 seasons in the NBA for five different teams. Coming off the bench, the Slovenian center won a championship with San Antonio in 2005. The Rockets could have really used him. Houston's original pick in 1998 busted quickly, almost before it started. Mirsad Turkcan played only 17 NBA games in his career. With Rasho Nesterovic, Houston would have had another seven-footer. The Slovenian took time to adapt to the NBA, especially on the offensive end; however, the Rockets had the time for Olajuwon to help mentor Nesterovic. What could have been?
2 Milwaukee Bucks - Ricky Davis
Original selection: Pat Garrity
In the re-draft, Ricky Davis got bumped into the top 20. Davis was originally chosen by the Hornets with the 21st selection. Ricky Davis played almost 12 years in the NBA and for seven different teams. After 2001, Davis focused on scoring and averaged double-digit points per game for the next nine seasons. Ricky Davis last played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2009.
1 Atlanta Hawks Tyronn Lue
Original selection: Roshown McLeod
After being selected 23rd overall in 1998, Tyronn Lue also got bumped into the top 20 with hindsight. Denver traded Lue to the Lakers on draft night to send Nick Van Exel to Denver. Lue quickly got noticed for his defensive quickness. The Lakers used him to slow down Allen Iverson during the 2001 NBA Finals. Tyronn Lue played almost 11 NBA seasons for eight different teams. With that game experience, Lue decided to pursue coaching. He's been an assistant in Cleveland since 2014. After David Blatt got fired earlier this year, Tyronn Lue was named the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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