Coming into the 1996 NBA Draft, there was a lot of hype as the talent pool was perceived to be incredibly deep. It turns out that the pundits were right, as the 2016-17 season was the first one to not have a single player in the league that was taken during this legendary draft. While other drafts such as 1984 and 2003 have also been noted for having exceptional talent, 1996 was perhaps the deepest we have seen in more than 30 years.
From the top to nearly the bottom of the first round, All Star talent was being drafted left and right. Future Hall of Famers were also on the list, helping to preserve the legacy of the draft. While the second round didn’t produce any Hall of Famers, there was even some undrafted talent as Ben Wallace became a star in the league.
Some of the players in the 1996 Draft have been fondly remembered, while others have been forgotten. Today, we check in with both sides of the spectrum to see what all of the first round picks are up to these days, and what they accomplished in their time in the NBA.
29 Allen Iverson
After winning the NBA Draft lottery to select first in the 1996 season, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Allen Iverson out of Georgetown. It was certainly not a bust for Philadelphia, as Iverson was selected to 11 All Star Games while winning the 2001 MVP Award. Iverson wouldn’t play with the 76ers forever, though, as he left to join the Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies before playing his final season back in Philadelphia.
Iverson played overseas for the 2010-11 season, before calling it a career. In April 2016, it was announced that Iverson would be entering the Basketball Hall of Fame. Iverson has been in the news lately for perceived financial troubles, which he claims that he does not have. Otherwise, he has been enjoying a quiet retirement that has been met with plenty of post-playing accolades.
28 Marcus Camby
Of the first six picks of the 1996 NBA Draft, only one player was never selected as an All Star in his career. That “honor” belongs to Marcus Camby, though his career wasn’t all that bad with 9.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Camby had a long career that saw him play for six different teams (starting with Toronto, the team that drafted him), winning the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year Award along the way.
Camby last played in the 2012-13 season, and was set to play in the 2013-14 campaign, but was released by Houston and never signed with another team. Camby has focused on his education in the past year, announcing that he will be returning to school at UMass-Amherst. Camby had attended the school in college, but never graduated before going pro.
27 Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Back when the now Memphis Grizzlies were located in Vancouver, they landed the third pick and used it on Cal forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Abdur-Rahim had a solid career, averaging 18.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. During that time, Abdur-Rahim would play for the Grizzlies, Hawks, Trail Blazers and Kings. He officially retired after the 2007-08 season, but stuck around the organization.
That’s because Abdur-Rahim became an assistant coach on the staff, though his tenure only lasted for two seasons. However, he would get a promotion when he was announced as the team’s assistant general manager. After less than three seasons, Abdur-Rahim became the general manager of the Reno Bighorns, though he is now working with the league office as the vice president of basketball operations.
26 Stephon Marbury
There was no shortage of compelling characters in the 1996 NBA Draft, and perhaps none more than Stephon Marbury. The former Georgia Tech standout was the fourth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks, but was then traded to Minnesota. Marbury would also play for the Nets, Suns, Knicks and Celtics before ending his NBA career after the 2008-09 season. Overall, Marbury averaged 19.3 points, 7.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.
Marbury is one of the few players on the list that has opted to still play basketball. Since 2010, Marbury has been playing in China. For the past six years, Marbury has been with the Beijing Ducks, and has had a lot of success. He has won the CBA title three times, while also making six All Star appearances.
25 Ray Allen
Rounding out the top five was Ray Allen, originally drafted by the Timberwolves and then traded as part of the Stephon Marbury deal. Allen would play his first seven seasons with the Bucks before heading to Seattle. Allen would then round out his career with stints in both Boston and Miami. Along the way, Allen was a three point shooting star that was selected to 10 All Star teams, winning two NBA titles.
Allen officially ended his career following the 2013-14 NBA season, though he has teased a possible comeback on a couple of occasions. Allen finally retired for good at the start of the 2016-17 NBA season. Now that he is retired, Allen is looking for a new line of work to keep him busy. If that doesn’t happen, expect another tease to return to basketball.
24 Antoine Walker
After making a trade with Dallas, Boston acquired the sixth pick in the draft, getting Antoine Walker from Kentucky. Walker would play with the Celtics (twice), Mavericks, Hawks, Heat and Timberwolves in his 12 year long NBA career. Walker had some fine seasons, making the All Star team three times, and winning the 2006 NBA Championship.
After the 2007-08 season, Walker no longer was on an NBA roster. In 2010, he played overseas and then came back for a couple of years to play in the D-League. Walker eventually announced his retirement from basketball in 2012. Since leaving the game, Walker has been working as an analyst for different media outlets, including the SEC Network. It was good that he found a gig, since he had filed for bankruptcy before clearing his debt after retirement.
23 Lorenzen Wright
Lorenzen Wright became the seventh player selected in the 1996 NBA Draft when the Clippers called his name, but he had spent just three seasons with the team. Wright would also play for the Hawks, Grizzlies, Kings and Cavaliers, averaging 7.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. Wright played his last game in the 2008-09 season with the Cavaliers before leaving basketball.
Tragedy would then strike the next year when he went missing in July 2010. After searching for days, Wright’s body was found in the woods in Tennessee. There has been a lot of mystery surrounding Wright’s death, and the case is still open. Wright had made a phone call shortly before his disappearance, but the call was not tracked.
22 Kerry Kittles
Coming out of Villanova, Kerry Kittle was drafted with the eighth pick by the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets. Kittles played for the Nets for eight seasons, and then spent his final year as a member of the Clippers. Kittles would end up averaging 14.1 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. While he didn’t have the most heralded career, Kittles did have a long career with solid success.
Kittles retired after the 2004-05 season, and was pretty quiet for several years. That changed in 2016 when Kittles landed a new job. He became an assistant coach at Princeton University, and was able to make the NCAA Tournament in his first season. The Tigers would fall in the first round to Notre Dame, but it was clear that Princeton had a strong season.
21 Samaki Walker
The Mavericks were busy in the 1996 NBA Draft, and they were able to land Samaki Walker with the ninth overall pick out of Louisville. Walker would play for six different teams in his 10 years as an NBA player. The stats weren’t all that great for Walker, as he posted 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game. Walker left the NBA after the 2005-06 season, but still played basketball.
Walker became an overseas player, heading to seven different teams in his five years post-NBA. In 2011, Walker retired after helping lead Al-Jalaa Aleppo to a championship in Syria. Now living in Los Angeles once again, Walker is working as a basketball development coach. Walker has been in the news lately, telling stories about his time with Kobe Bryant and a controversy back in 2016 with his girlfriend, so it’s been an interesting retirement to say the least.
20 Erick Dampier
Finishing out the top 10, the Pacers made a deal with the Nuggets to acquire center Erick Dampier from Mississippi State. Though Dampier was never an All Star or considered an elite talent in the NBA, he did have a long career. He also had some solid seasons, with his best coming in 2003-04 for Golden State when he posted 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
Dampier played for five different teams in his career, which wrapped up after the 2011-12 campaign with the Hawks. Dampier has had a quiet retirement, and hasn’t gone into coaching or broadcasting like many of his other former first rounders. After all, Dampier played for 15 seasons in the NBA, making around $100 million in the process. That’s enough for anyone to enjoy some peace and quiet.
19 Todd Fuller
One of the forgotten players of the 1996 NBA Draft, Todd Fuller became the 11th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors. The former NC State standout wasn’t able to find much success, averaging just 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in his NBA career. Overall, Fuller played for four different teams in his five seasons before leaving the NBA in 2001.
Fuller would take his game overseas, playing for seven different teams between 2002 and 2006. His most recent game came with the South Dragons in Australia, and Fuller retired from basketball in late 2006. Fuller is now working several different jobs, focusing on charity and even has a license to teach math. His most recent gig was with Charlotte-Douglas International Airport as part of the advisory committee.
18 Vitaly Potapenko
Before we could get to the insanity of the next few picks, Vitaly Potapenko (Pictured Right) from the Ukraine was the 12th pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers after attending Wright State. Potapenko’s NBA career spanned just over a decade, making stops in Cleveland, Boston, Seattle and Sacramento. The center was never a big playmaker in the NBA, averaging just 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game.
Potapenko left the NBA in 2007 to play overseas for a year, but then came back to be a coach. Since then, Potapenko has been an assistant in the D-League and in the NBA. He would end up winning his first NBA title in 2016, as he has been on the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff since 2013.
17 Kobe Bryant
Arguably the best player of his generation and the best player of the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets originally selected Kobe Bryant before trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s pretty clear what happened to Bryant after the trade, as he never played for another team in his 20 NBA seasons. Along the way, Bryant would win five NBA titles, an MVP award and reach 18 All Star Games.
Bryant played his final game in April 2016, finishing an outstanding career with 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. With all of the money he made from playing and endorsements, Bryant did not need to find another job after his NBA career ended. Instead, he welcomed his third child in late 2016 and that has been his main focus since. However, Bryant will never ultimately stay away from basketball.
16 Peja Stojakovic
While the Sacramento Kings missed out on getting Kobe Bryant and passing up the two-time MVP that would be drafted with the next spot, they still got a pretty solid player in Peja Stojakovic. Stojakovic spent eight years in Sacramento, making three All Star appearances. In 2006, Stojakovic became a member of the Pacers, and then spent the final few years of his career with New Orleans, Toronto and Dallas.
Stojakovic hasn’t played in the NBA since 2011, but finished with 17.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Stojakovic eventually rejoined the team that drafted him, taking a front office position. Since 2015, Stojakovic has been working as the general manager and head of player development of the Reno Bighorns, the Kings’ D-League affiliate.
15 Steve Nash
Rounding out three picks in a row where teams got absolute steals, the Suns were able to take Steve Nash from Santa Clara with the 15th overall pick. Nash became one of the (if not the) best point guards of the past 20 years, spending 19 seasons in the NBA with the Suns, Mavericks and Lakers. Nash would win two MVP awards in back-to-back years, and also made eight All Star appearances.
Nash was never able to secure the NBA title that he wanted, but did have a fine career that came to an end in 2015. Just a few months after retiring, Nash would take a job with the Golden State Warriors. Since then, Nash has been working as a consultant in a part-time role, and was married last year.
14 Tony Delk
The run of high profile draft picks had to come to an end at some point, but it didn’t quite come to a screeching halt. Tony Delk (Pictured Left) was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets (the Pelicans now) out of Kentucky with the 16th pick. Delk spent just one season in Charlotte before playing for seven more teams for the rest of his career. Delk played his final NBA game with Detroit in 2006, finishing with 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Delk went to play overseas in Greece after leaving the NBA, then Puerto Rico to wrap up his career. In 2009, Delk returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach, spending two seasons there before becoming an assistant at New Mexico State. Delk decided in 2013 that he was no longer interested in coaching, and decided to take a job with the SEC Network. As a studio analyst, he no longer has to travel as much.
13 Jermaine O’Neal
Even though Jermaine O’Neal had a solid NBA career, the first thing that a lot of people think about when hearing his name is the Malice at the Palace against Detroit in the 2004-05 season. If you can remember the former Trail Blazers draft pick on the court, however, there was plenty to like. O’Neal played for seven different teams in his NBA career that saw him land on six All Star teams from 2002 to 2007.
O’Neal would play his final NBA game in 2014 with the Golden State Warriors, though he didn’t officially retire for two more years as he was looking to continue his career. Now that it looks like his NBA career has come to an end, O’Neal has found a new basketball league. The 3-on-3 league created by Ice Cube known as BIG3 starts play in summer 2017, and O’Neal will be a part of the action.
12 John Wallace
The Knicks made a deal to get the 18th pick, using the selection on John Wallace, a forward from Syracuse. Wallace would be fairly underwhelming, spending just one season in New York before joining the Raptors before returning to the Knicks. Wallace also spent one season each with the Pistons and Suns before heading overseas, returning for a year to the Heat and then going overseas again.
Wallace last played basketball in 2005 with Snaidero Udine, and finished his NBA career with 7.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. Wallace has been involved with missionary work since ending his basketball career, serving on the board of Heavenly Productions Foundation to help children. He also took a job in 2016 to coach in a summer semi-pro league called the Champions Basketball League.
11 Walter McCarty
Another former Kentucky Wildcat, Walter McCarty (Pictured Left) helped his school win the 1996 NCAA Championship before being drafted 19th overall by the Knicks, who made another deal to land a draft pick. Like Wallace, McCarty would spend just one season in New York, and played the bulk of his career with Boston before finishing with the Suns and Clippers, ending his career in 2006.
McCarty only put up 5.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, but has found a new career in coaching. Shortly after retiring, McCarty became an assistant at Louisville. In 2010, he made the jump to the NBA, spending a season with the Pacers. Since 2013, McCarty has been an assistant with the Celtics. With the team’s success, a possibility of becoming a head coach is not out of the question.
10 Zydrunas Ilgauskas
The final player to make an All Star team that was drafted in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a Lithuanian who was taken by the Cavaliers. Ilgauskas would have a very long career in Cleveland, playing with the team through the 2009-10 season and making two All Star appearances. Ilgauskas would spend his final season in the league with Miami, however, finishing with 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Ilgauskas came back to Cleveland after retiring, becoming an assistant to the general manager in 2012. Ilgauskas has since helped players around the league sharpen their game, and even became an assistant coach for a high school basketball team. Though he doesn’t have a high profile position, Ilgauskas is very much still involved in basketball.
9 Dontae’ Jones
The Knicks would strike once again in the first round, using the 21st overall selection on Dontae Jones from Mississippi State. Jones would miss his rookie season due to an injury, never playing for the Knicks as he was traded to the Celtics in a deal that involved Walter McCarty and John Thomas. Jones played just one NBA season with Boston, averaging 2.9 points and 0.6 rebounds per game.
Jones would end up playing basketball outside of the NBA for a very long time, playing his last game in 2010 with Halcones UV Xalapa. After retiring from basketball, Jones moved back to his home state of Tennessee to start coaching youth basketball in the Nashville area. Jones is still working in his position while also adding charity work for inner-city children.
8 Roy Rogers
The Vancouver Grizzlies would make a deal with the Rockets to acquire the 22nd pick, which was Roy Rogers from Alabama. Rogers spent just one season with the Grizzlies before also becoming a member of the Celtics, Raptors and Nuggets. After the 1999-2000 season, Rogers played overseas in Russia and then eventually called it a career in Poland after the 2003-04 campaign.
Rogers would then immediately go into coaching, becoming an assistant and then a head coach in the D-League. Since then, Rogers has worked his way up to ladder as a scout and then an assistant for the Nets in 2013. After spending two seasons with the Wizards, Rogers officially joined the Rockets coaching staff in June 2016, and has remained with the team ever since.
7 Efthimios Rentzias
The Denver Nuggets would acquire the 23rd overall pick and took Efthimios Rentzias, a center from Greece. Rentzias declined to play in the NBA, and instead moved to Spain to play for Barcelona Basquet for several years. Rentzias would eventually join the NBA for one season, playing for the 76ers for the 2002-03 season. He would finish with just 1.5 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game.
Rentzias returned overseas after the season ended, and played for three teams before ending his career in 2005, calling it quits due to injuries. Rentzias would return to Greece to take a job as an ambassador for Sports and Culture in Thessaly. While we’re not sure if there’s an American equivalent for the same job, it’s something that a lot of Greek athletes do.
6 Derek Fisher
The Lakers not only got 20 years out of their first draft pick of the first round in 1996, but got another 13 out of the 24th overall pick, Derek Fisher. Fisher had went to Little Rock before playing, and also spent time with the Warriors, Jazz, Thunder and Mavericks in a career that didn’t end until 2014. Fisher was never a standout like Kobe Bryant, but did win five NBA titles while averaging 8.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Shortly after his retirement, Fisher was named as the head coach of the New York Knicks in 2014. Fisher signed a five-year deal to be the coach, but was fired in February 2016 after an overall record of just 40-96. Since losing that job, Fisher has been working for the media, currently serving as a studio analyst for the team that drafted him.
5 Martin Muursepp
Estonia is not known for their slew of NBA talent, but they had the 25th overall pick taken from the country in 1996. Martin Muursepp (Pictured Middle) was selected by the Jazz, and was then traded to the Heat. Murrsepp’s NBA career would not last long, as he spent one season in Miami and then one in Dallas before heading back overseas. Muursepp averaged 4.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game in the NBA.
Muursepp would find success in Estonia, winning two championships and seven Player of the Year awards. Muursepp played his final basketball game in 2010 with Rakvere Tarvas, and became a coach. Since then, he has been an assistant with Kalev/Cramo, and was even an assistant for the Belarus national team.
4 Jerome Williams
The Pistons and Spurs would make a deal to bring the 26th overall pick to Detroit, using it on Georgetown forward Jerome Williams. Williams had moderate success in Detroit, and then had his best years once he was traded to the Raptors. Williams would also play for the Bulls and Knicks, ending his NBA career in 2005 with an average of 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
Williams found work almost immediately after his career ended, working with the league to expand the game internationally. Williams would also work for the Raptors as a franchise ambassador and took on a coaching role with Findlay Prep. Williams left the head coaching gig in 2014, and recently started a goodwill program called Shooting For Peace.
3 Brian Evans
Former Indiana Hoosier Brian Evans wound up being the 27th pick when the Orlando Magic called his name. Evans would not last long in the NBA, however, playing with three teams in just three seasons. Overall, Evans averaged 3.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists with the Magic, Nets and Timberwolves. His career would continue, though, playing internationally from 1999 to 2005.
After leaving the basketball world, Evans entered into the business side of things. Evans started his own medical sales company in Carmel, Indiana in 2010 and has run the company ever since. Evans also founded another company in 2013 called CareCycle, which deals in medical device reprocessing. Even though the NBA didn’t quite work out for Evans, the medical field isn’t a bad one to get into.
2 Priest Lauderdale
Atlanta acquired the second-to-last pick in the first round, and rolled the dice on a 7’4”, 325 pound center from Central State University named Priest Lauderdale. Lauderdale was one of the tallest NBA players in league history, but spent just one season with the Hawks and then the Nuggets before playing his final NBA game in 1998. Lauderdale finished his short career with 3.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game.
Lauderdale would not end his playing career after leaving the NBA, though, as he played in the D-League for a brief period and then internationally. After playing for more than a dozen teams, Lauderdale ended his career in 2011. These days, Lauderdale is living in England and serving as a brand ambassador for the Oxford City Sports Club.
1 Travis Knight
The first round of the 1996 NBA Draft ended with another seven footer, this time with former UConn player Travis Knight. Knight was selected by the Bulls, but the team never signed him. Instead, it was the Lakers that picked him up, and Knight would have two stints in Los Angeles while also playing for the Celtics and Knicks. From 1996 to 2003, Knight would averaged 3.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Knight played his final game in 2003, and has split his time between the United States and Nicaragua since retiring. While in Nicaragua, Knight is helping to run a resort known as Villa Noche. He is also raising a daughter and has enjoyed his time away from basketball as he runs his business.
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