The 1996 NBA draft was certainly a legendary draft class since the first few players that will be drafted are first-ballot Hall of Famers and some of the greatest NBA players to ever play the game.
There were certainly some mistakes made in the 1996 draft some 20 odd years ago, but it is time to correct the mistakes and alter the course of history Starting with the Philadelphia 76ers, the correct draft choices would have them ending up with a top-two shooting guard of all time.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Allen Iverson
Re-Draft Pick: Kobe Bryant
Philadelphia’s original pick was by no means a bad one since Allen Iverson is a legend of the franchise and the greatest player to ever play for Sixers; pound for pound. Still, he wasn’t Kobe Bryant.
Kobe was much bigger than Iverson, 6 inches taller, and was more dominant on both ends of the floor. While many will point to the fact that Kobe had Shaq for three NBA titles, he won a total of five NBA rings some of which would belong to the Philadelphia 76ers if he was drafted by them.
2. Toronto Raptors
Original Pick: Marcus Camby
Re-Draft Pick: Allen Iverson
Big men were clearly valued back then, so it is no surprise why Camby was taken second overall. He was a shot-blocking big man who was imposing in the paint and could also score the ball. Toronto thought Camby would be a different maker and a leader for the franchise.
While Camby had a great career, he was nowhere near as great as Allen Iverson was. When you think of the Philadelphia 76ers, you think of Allen Iverson, and he would have been that guy for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have been non-existent for their whole franchise history, until last year with Kawhi Leonard, so A.I. would have altered their course of history forever.
3. Vancouver Grizzlies
Original Pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Re-Draft Pick: Steve Nash
Abdur-Rahim was a great two-way power forward who could score the ball and had a great career with the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged 18.1 PPG and 7.5 RPG over his career with the Grizzlies, but he wasn’t on the level of Nash.
Steve Nash is a two-time MVP and one of the best pure shooters in NBA history. Only one can imagine how Nash would have made the Grizzlies a more formidable franchise since they could have built around a perfect point guard.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Stephon Marbury
Re-Draft Pick: Ray Allen
Marbury had some great years in him and was a fantastic scorer in his prime. As one of the most popular athletes in the NBA, he also found success abroad in China later on in his career.
But Ray Allen is one of the best shooters to ever play the game and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Allen won an NBA title with a Celtics and also with the Miami Heat, thanks to his contributions in shooting and clutch shot-making ability. The Bucks would have had a man who can be the primary scorer of a team in a few short years and the undisputed All-Star of the franchise going forward.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Ray Allen
Re-Draft Pick: Ben Wallace
Allen was an excellent pick for the Wolves since he could be the primary scorer and offensive superstar for the franchise in the long-run. But had things gone the right way, the Wolves would have ended up with 4-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Ben Wallace which isn’t a bad thing at all.
Wallace is one of the best defensive players ever, so the Wolves would have immediately begun building an identity around tough defense and hustle that would be encompassed by Kevin Garnett.
6. Boston Celtics
Original Pick: Antoine Walker
Re-Draft Pick: Peja Stojakovic
Antoine Walker was a former All-Star and a very good player, but his peak wasn’t as great as Peja’s was. Peja is one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, averaging 40.1% from three for his career. He is a legend as one of the greatest international players and an icon for his country of Serbia.
Stojakovic had a career 17.0 PPG average and even had a legitimate shot to win an NBA title with the Kings if not for the Lakers (and the refs) in 2001.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
Original Pick: Lorenzen Wright
Re-Draft Pick: Stephon Marbury
The Clippers legitimately should have drafted Stephon Marbury. Even though he had a topsy turvy career in terms of off-court issues and even some on the court issues, Marbury was a beast in his prime and a true All-Star in the game when he was focused. He averaged 19.3 PPG and 7.6 APG over his career, having his best years with the Knicks and Nets.
Marbury, or Starbury, has resurrected his whole career while playing overseas in China and has even expanded his brand tremendously since he’s been in the NBA.
8. New Jersey Nets
Original Pick: Kerry Kittles
Re-Draft Pick: Jermaine O’Neal
While Kerry Kittles wasn’t as great as Jermaine O’Neal, he was part of the starting lineup for a New Jersey Nets team that made the NBA Finals led by Jason Kidd.
New Jersey would have had a franchise-caliber player to build around in Jermaine O’Neal, who actually had his best years around the time that Jason Kidd was carrying the Nets to the Finals. One can only imagine if O’Neal and Kidd played with each other.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Original Pick: Samaki Walker
Re-Draft Pick: Marcus Camby
The Mavericks would end up getting a defensive-minded leader in Marcus Camby, a player who can easily lead the team and rebounds and blocks shots while also setting a trend of hustle and defense.
The Mavericks are a franchise that seems to love building around a particular player and can bring that sort of championship-caliber quality to a team. They should have done a lot better than Samaki Walker, who was mainly known for being a role player for the Los Angeles Lakers.
10. Indiana Pacers
Original Pick: Erick Dampier
Re-Draft Pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Abdur-Rahim was a very talented offensive power forward that actually would have been perfect for today’s game. He’s very gifted at scoring the ball, averaging 18.1 PPG for his career.
Abdur-Rahim was excellent from the field, shooting 47.2% from the field and 81.0% from the line. He had the offensive talent but did not have the ability to lead a team on his own since he made the playoffs only once. Still, he would have been an excellent draft choice for the Pacers.
11. Golden State Warriors
Original Pick: Todd Fuller
Re-Draft Pick: Antoine Walker
Fuller was an afterthought, only lasting five seasons in the league while Antoine Walker made 3 All-Star teams and was a member of the All-Rookie Team in 1996.
Walker was a forward who could score and pass the ball very well for his size, averaging 17.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3.5 APG. He had his best years with Boston, averaging a career-high 23.4 PPG in the 2000-2001 season.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Vitaly Potapenko
Re-Draft Pick: Derek Fisher
At number 12, the Cavaliers could have done a lot worse than drafting Derek Fisher. While Fisher was never an All-Star, he was a pure professional and one of the toughest point guards to play the game.
He was the starter for Lakers teams that won NBA championships with both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, so Cleveland would have at least got one building block for a title contender.
13. Charlotte Hornets
Original Pick: Ray Allen
Re-Draft Pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Big Z would have been an excellent choice for the Hornets, who could have used his very high basketball I.Q. and scoring ability from the post.
Ilgauskas averaged 13.0 PPG and 7.3 RPG over his career, but his main impact came from his post passing and also mid-range shooting. Ilgauskas made 2 All-Star teams and played 13 seasons in the league.
14. Sacramento Kings
Original Pick: Peja Stojakovic
Re-Draft Pick: Kerry Kittles
The Kings lucked out with Peja Stojakovic, who was a former All-Star and one of the best shooters ever.
But Kittles was not a bad player at all since he averaged 15.2 PPG over his career and was one of the top three players for the Nets that made two straight NBA Finals in the 2000s.
15. Phoenix Suns
Original Pick: Steve Nash
Re-Draft Pick: Erick Dampier
The Suns will not be able to draft Steve Nash, one of the greatest point guards to ever play since he would have been one of the top-three picks in this draft if it was re-done.
Instead, they would end up with Erick Dampier who had a very long career and was a good shot-blocker. Dampier played 16 seasons in the league and amassed 1,398 blocks over his career but was never a star.
16. Charlotte Hornets
Original Pick: Tony Delk
Re-Draft Pick: Jerome Williams
Jerome Williams was mainly in the league thanks to his amazing hustle on the court, doing all the little things that most players simply didn’t want to do. The Junkyard Dog averaged only 6.6 PPG and 6.4 RPG for his career but played 9 seasons.
17. Portland Trail Blazers
Original Pick: Jermaine O’Neal
Re-Draft Pick: Chucky Atkins
Atkins was a late bloomer of sorts, being drafted as a rookie at 25-years old. Luckily, Atkins ended up with a solid career by playing 11 seasons mainly as a backup point guard. The Blazers got lucky with O’Neal, who was a very raw prospect who later had his best years with the Pacers.
18. New York Knicks
Original Pick: John Wallace
Re-Draft Pick: Lorenzen Wright
The Knicks would not get much in this draft class, drafting Lorenzen Wright with the 18th pick. Wright was not much more than a role player, averaging 8.0 PPG over 13 seasons.
19. New York Knicks
Original Pick: Walter McCarty
Re-Draft Pick: Malik Rose
With the 19th pick, the Knicks would get Malik Rose who is mostly remembered for his garbage-time minutes with the title-contending San Antonio Spurs. Rose was never a star and spent 13 years in the league as a role player.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Re-Draft Pick: Tony Delk
As the case with most players at the bottom of the draft, Delk was not much more than a role player by averaging 9.1 PPG over 10 years in the league with 8 different teams.
21. New York Knicks
Original Pick: Dontae’ Jones
Re-Draft Pick: Othella Harrington
Harrington was a decent role player throughout his career, but he had a great season in the 99-00 season by averaging 13.1 PPG and 6.9 RPG and starting every game that season.
22. Vancouver Grizzlies
Original Pick: Roy Rogers
Re-Draft Pick: Shandon Anderson
Many might remember Anderson for being a role player for the Karl Malone-led Utah Jazz and later the NBA champions Miami Heat in 2006. Anderson shortly retired after winning his ring and did not produce big numbers by averaging 7.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG.
23. Denver Nuggets
Original Pick: Efthimi Rentzias
Re-Draft Pick: Adrian Griffin
Griffin didn’t move the needle much in his career, but many remember him for being a role player for the Dallas Mavericks for three seasons. Griffin actually found a career as an assistant coach as the Orlando Magic later on.
24. Los Angeles Lakers
Original Pick: Derek Fisher
Re-Draft Pick: Vitaly Potapenko
It’s really hard to imagine Derek Fisher without a Lakers uniform, and they lucked out with the tough point guard with the 24th pick. With the re-draft, the Lakers would end up with Vitaly Potapenko who lasted 11 years in the league thanks to his size and girth. Potapenko averaged 6.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for his career.
25. Utah Jazz
Original Pick: Martin Muursepp
Re-Draft Pick: Walter McCarty
McCarty wasn’t a great player, but he was a pretty good shooter from deep by averaging 34.6% from three. McCarty never shined much, putting up 5.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG as a power forward.
26. Detroit Pistons
Original Pick: Jerome Williams
Re-Draft Pick: Erick Strickland
Strickland didn’t have a great career but also had one great year with the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 12.8 PPG and 4.8 RPG as the Mavs starting two-guard.
27. Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Brian Evans
Re-Draft Pick: Samaki Walker
Many remember Samaki Walker for his bench warmer minutes for the Kobe-Shaq Lakers, but he actually had a long career lasting 10 seasons in the league.
28. Atlanta Hawks
Original Pick: Priest Lauderdale
Re-Draft Pick: Moochie Norris
Lauderdale lasted only two seasons in the league, averaging 3.4 PPG so he did not move the needle much.
29. Chicago Bulls
Original Pick: Travis Knight
Re-Draft Pick: Travis Knight
The Bulls would end up with Travis Knight anyways, a player lasting 7 seasons and averaging 3.4 PPG over his career.