The Washington Wizards (formerly known as 'Bullets') missed out on a big chance to land two incredible players that would have taken this team to the next level. Unfortunately, a series of desperate decisions ruined their chances of creating a terrific backcourt that could have had Kobe Bryant and Steven Nash together.
Chris Webber was one of the best players in his class, and his accolades confirm that. He was really close to winning a championship with the Sacramento Kings and probably start a dynasty there, but life had different plans for him.
Just like things didn't work in his favor while chasing the NBA championship, one of Webber's team couldn't get the talent they needed to compete because of the former Michigan Wolverine. After trading for C-Webb in 1994, the Bullets missed a big chance to land Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash a couple of years later.
During his first year with the Golden State Warriors, Webber posted interesting numbers (17.5 points with 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game), but the relationship with head coach Don Nelson wasn't good. Tim van Straten of Sports Casting explains that Nelson wanted Webber to play more as a center, but the player didn't like to face big names like Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, and more.
This situation prompted the Dubs to trade Webber to the Bullets. Initially, this looked like a good deal for Washington, but they learned that wasn't accurate two years later.
The Bullets (who didn’t become the Wizards until 1997) decided to expedite Webber’s exit. After going 24-58, Washington agreed to a sign-and-trade with Golden State, sending three first-round picks as well as Tom Gugliotta in exchange for the reigning Rookie of the Year.
As part of the Webber deal, Washington parted with their first-round picks for 1996, 1998, and 2000. While the latter two didn’t make much of an impact, the draft in 1996 was a serious error in judgment.
They had two high picks in 1996 and traded one in the Webber move. The other was traded during that year's draft to land Mark Price from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At the time, Washington had one of the youngest and most intriguing frontcourts in the league. Webber and former Fab 5 teammate Juwan Howard, as well as Rasheed Wallace, formed a trio of 22-and-under players with All-Star potential. But with a young frontcourt, the Bullets wanted experience in the backcourt. This prompted Washington to trade the 12th overall pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for four-time All-Star Mark Price.
With Webber costing them the 11th pick and Price the 12th pick, the Bullets left the star-studded 1996 NBA Draft with one player; Ronnie Henderson, who never appeared in an NBA game. Had Washington maintained at least one of those picks, some of the available players included Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, and Peja Stojakovic.
The 1996 NBA draft is considered one of the best in NBA history. It had a lot of talents that went to become legends of the game. The Bullets' front office could have gotten two all-time greats if they were a bit patient in 1994.
Webber didn't have the best tenure in D.C. He only made the playoff once in 1996/97, getting eliminated in the first round. One season later, he was shipped to Sacramento in exchange for Mitch Richmond. That move was the best thing to happen in Webber's career, as he found his place in the world, taking the Kings to become a competitive team in the West during the early 2000s.