The 1996 NBA Draft is considered one of the greatest draft classes in NBA history. Featuring four future Hall of Famers, three MVPs, 10 All-Stars, seven All-NBA players, a defensive player of the year, and the NBA’s all-time leading three-point shooter among other things, it simply doesn’t get much better than ’96.
The Los Angeles Lakers made out great in this draft as they ultimately acquired the player who would be the face of the franchise for years to come and help lead the team to five NBA Championships, in Kobe Bryant. Not only did they get Kobe, but they also drafted one of the greatest role players ever and a major catalyst for the championship teams in Derek Fisher.
The Lakers weren’t the only big winners originally as a number of big names were taken including Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and Jermaine O’Neal. But even with so much talent available, there were still a number of missteps and bad picks. That is why we’re here as we re-do arguably the greatest draft of all-time, 1996.
29. Chicago Bulls – Jamie Feick, Original Pick: Travis Knight
Fresh off a championship, the Bulls add a center in hopes of finding someone who could hold down the fort consistently down low.
28. Atlanta Hawks – John Wallace, Original Pick: Priest Lauderdale
The Hawks had a pretty solid young core so they add John Wallace in hopes of bringing some depth and versatility to their forward spots.
27. Orlando Magic – Travis Knight, Original Pick: Brian Evans
26. Detroit Pistons – Randy Livingston, Original Pick: Jerome Williams
25. Utah Jazz – Samaki Walker, Original Pick: Martin Muursepp
Even though the Jazz were set to make back-to-back NBA Finals runs, Walker gives them some young legs and rebounding for an aging core.
24. Los Angeles Lakers – Moochie Norris, Original Pick: Derek Fisher
Norris was no Derek Fisher, but he was still a good back-up point guard who would have fit a need.
23. Denver Nuggets – Tony Delk, Original Pick: Efthimi Rentzias
A longtime solid shooter and all-around point guard, Delk gives the Nuggets another option in the backcourt.
22. Vancouver Grizzlies – Vitaly Potapenko, Original Pick: Roy Rogers
The Grizzlies needed a little bit of everything. Potapenko gives them size and depth upfront.
21. New York Knicks – Walter McCarty, Original Pick: Dontae’ Jones
The Knicks still get there guy, but only a couple of picks later. McCarty ultimately became a solid bench scorer and ‘stretch-four’ before they became all the rage in the NBA.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers – n, Original Pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
More help down low for a Cavs team in need of it. Harrington was a solid scorer and rebounder who had a long career.
19. New York Knicks – Jeff McInnis, Original Pick: Walter McCarty
The second of three picks for the Knicks, Jeff McInnis gives them some depth at the point guard position. 34-year-old Derek Harper was the starter with very little behind him.
18. New York Knicks – Malik Rose, Original Pick: John Wallace
The Knicks of the 1990s were all about physical basketball. Malik Rose is the epitome of that, bringing a tough style despite being undersized. There may not be a better fit.
17. Portland Trail Blazers – Shandon Anderson, Original Pick: Jermaine O’Neal
A long-time role player, Anderson would have given the Blazers a good option on the wing as they looked to build on their success. Bringing shooting and defense off the bench, Anderson would have fit right in.
16. Charlotte Hornets – Jerome Williams, Original Pick: Tony Delk
The Hornets had some explosive players, but not many guys to do the dirty work. Williams would help on the boards and with the overall toughness of this up and coming team.
15. Phoenix Suns – Lorenzen Wright, Original Pick: Steve Nash
Phoenix was in need of some young legs upfront as Charles Barkley, AC Green, and Hot Rod Williams were all past 30. Wright would give them size and athleticism, and maybe being around those players helps him realize his potential.
14. Sacramento Kings – Kerry Kittles, Original Pick: Peja Stojokavic
The Kings needed some wing depth as Mitch Richmond, though still effective, was getting up there in age. Kittles would give the Kings athleticism and defense on the perimeter.
13. Charlotte Hornets – Erick Dampier, Original Pick: Kobe Bryant
The Hornets had some dynamic perimeter players but had nothing in the middle. Dampier gives them a presence in the middle and some decent rebounding and shot-blocking to help the defense.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers – Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Original Pick: Vitaly Potapenko
The Cavaliers were one of the NBA’s best defensive teams but struggled to score regularly. Abdur-Rahim gives them a legit post scorer and someone to team with a young Terrell Brandon.
11. Golden State Warriors – Derek Fisher, Original Pick: Todd Fuller
The Warriors had just traded away Tim Hardaway and needed a replacement. Fisher is no star, but had a long career and was one of the best role players ever, winning five championships and hitting a number of clutch shots.
10. Indiana Pacers – Peja Stojakovic, Original Pick: Erick Dampier
When discussing the top shooters of all-time, Peja Stojokavic’s name is not always brought up. But as far as the numbers go, he is right there amongst the best shooters and he adds another weapon to a Pacers team that lacked a third scorer.
Stojokavic currently ranks 10th all-time in three-pointers made and was a 3x All-Star who even made All-NBA 2nd Team in 2004. He shot 40 percent from three-point range for his career. He is an underrated all-around player that was a solid rebounder and passer with good court vision.
The Pacers had the uninspiring combo of Derrick McKey and Eddie Johnson at small forward. Adding Stojokavic would open up the floor for Reggie Miller on the other side, and allow the bigs more room to operate down low.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Original Pick: Samaki Walker
The Dallas Mavericks were set on the perimeter with the trio of Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson, and Jamal Mashburn. However, the team lacked a true inside presence, which makes Zydrunas Ilgauskas an obvious choice at number nine.
Though he struggled with injuries early in his career, Ilgauskas turned himself into a consistent presence both offensively and defensively. He was a capable scorer and rebounder, and an underrated rim protector who averaged nearly 2 blocks per game for his career.
Even perimeter-based teams need an inside presence to throw the ball to sometimes and Ilgauskas, a 2x All-Star, would have given Dallas a long-term center, as well as an excellent teammate in the locker room.
8. New Jersey Nets – Antoine Walker, Original Pick: Kerry Kittles
One of the most versatile forwards in his prime, Antoine Walker was one of the most difficult covers during the early 2000s. The Nets get a much-needed scorer at number 8 who fits a need.
Walker averaged at least 17-7-3 in eight of his first nine seasons, topping out with an impressive 23-9-5 in 2001 while also leading the league in made 3-pointers. He was a 3x All-Star and a key component of the 2006 Miami Heat championship team.
The Nets had a solid foundation with Kendall Gill, Sam Cassell, and Jim Jackson. Walker would have fit right in at the power forward, giving them an edge that could have made them one of the Eastern Conference’s toughest teams to guard.
7. Los Angeles Clippers – Jermaine O’Neal, Original Pick: Lorenzen Wright
O’Neal toiled for years behind a stacked Trail Blazers frontcourt, but once he got an opportunity to shine he did so. This time he goes to a team where that won’t be an issue as he gives the Clippers something to begin building around.
Even though it took some time before he got his shot O’Neal was still one of the better big men of the 2000s making 6 All-Star Games and winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 2002. Throughout the decade O’Neal was a constant in the top-10 of both rebounds and blocks while providing solid offensive production as well.
The Clippers had very little on their roster to really get fans excited so O’Neal would have been a welcome addition, and for O’Neal, he gets the opportunity to see the court regularly in his early years.
6. Boston Celtics – Stephon Marbury, Original Pick: Antoine Walker
For a time, Stephon Marbury was looked at as one of the NBA’s premier point guards. For a Celtics team in need of a long-term solution at the position, Marbury is the easy choice.
Marbury was an immediate impact player, making All-Rookie First Team. At his best, he was an excellent combo of scoring and passing capable of scoring 30 or dropping 15 assists. He was a 2x All-Star and 2x All-NBA Third Team. Following his rookie season, Marbury averaged at least 16 points and 6 assists in each of the next eight seasons.
Though his time in the league wasn’t as long as others, his peak was brighter. The Celtics needed something to get excited about and Marbury would give them that.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Marcus Camby, Original Pick: Ray Allen
Already armed with one of the best young bigs in Kevin Garnett, the Timberwolves add one of the best defenders of the last 20 years in Marcus Camby, giving the team a scary defensive front line.
Camby never became the superstar some hoped he would be, mostly due to injuries, but that didn’t stop his impact when he was on the floor. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and led the league in blocks four times. He was All-Defensive First team twice and grabbed double-digit rebounds for most of his career.
Camby and Garnett together would make it very difficult for teams to score in the paint and would give the Timberwolves a young frontcourt to build around as they try to make a dent in the NBA.
4. Milwaukee Bucks – Ray Allen, Original Pick: Stephon Marbury
Ray Allen is the best three-point shooter of all-time, but he never quite got his due as being an exceptional all-around player because of his outstanding shooting.
Allen is a 10x All-Star and two-time NBA champion. He averaged at least 22 points for eight consecutive seasons, topping out at 26.4 with the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2006-07 season before being traded that summer to the Boston Celtics. He is currently 21st on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Though the Bucks didn’t draft Allen, they did trade for him so they get their guy in this instance regardless. Allen teamed with Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell to nearly lead the Bucks to the NBA Finals in 2001.
3. Vancouver Grizzlies – Allen Iverson, Original Pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Another franchise coming off their first year in existence, the Vancouver Grizzlies needed a transcendent star to carry them in their early years and they wind up with one of the most influential and iconic players of this generation in Allen Iverson.
Iverson is one of the best pure scorers the NBA has ever seen and maybe pound-for-pound the toughest player in NBA history. He was the 2001 MVP, as well as an 11x All-Star, 3x All-NBA First Team selection, and 4x Scoring Champion. Iverson averaged less than 26 points only once in his first 12 seasons.
Abdur-Rahim was a solid player, but Iverson would have been the person to put the Grizzlies on the map. One of the most popular players of all-time, Iverson would be looked at as the greatest Grizzlies player ever had he dropped to three. This time, he does.
2. Toronto Raptors – Steve Nash, Original Pick: Marcus Camby
A much more difficult decision for number two, but ultimately career longevity gives Nash the nod here, and once again, a homegrown player stays as Canada’s best player remains in the country.
Nash’s career didn’t take off immediately, but once it did it exploded to the tune of back-to-back MVPs, 8 All-Star Games, and 3 All-NBA First Team appearances. One of the greatest shooters of all-time, he has posted 50-40-90 (FG/3PT/FT) shooting splits four separate seasons.
The Raptors ended up trading away Damon Stoudamire a season and a half later which would have opened up Nash to flourish as the team’s longtime point guard. Nash lobs to Vince Carter would have been legendary.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Kobe Bryant, Original Pick: Allen Iverson
Was there ever really a question as to who would be number 1 here? Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history. A first-ballot Hall of Famer who has accomplished everything he possibly could in the NBA, it’s sad to know that Bryant’s career is coming to an end soon.
Kobe’s accolades are absolutely ridiculous. He is a 5x NBA champion and 2x NBA Finals MVP. He won the regular-season MVP in 2008, is an 18x All-Star, 11x All-NBA First Team, 9x All-Defensive First Team, and 2x scoring champion. He is also third on the all-time regular season and playoff scoring lists.
The 76ers were a team who needed a star and while they didn’t go wrong with Iverson, who was great in his own right, Kobe is simply at another level and very likely would bring the Sixers the NBA championship that has eluded the franchise for more than 30 years.NBA Dra