1996 NBA Draft Remix
The greatest draft of all-time you ask? Perhaps.
The initial plan was to make the focus of this article a showdown between Allen Iverson and Steve Nash for the No. 2 slot in the remix. Instead, let’s just cut to the chase — Iverson wins due to the longevity of his greatness. But, that being said, the battle was probably closer than most people would be willing to admit.
The reason we are cutting the Iverson-Nash debate short (other than the fact that AI pretty much beats Nash in most categories when you look at their whole careers) is that focusing just on two players wouldn’t do THE GREATEST DRAFT OF ALL-TIME any justice. But is 1996 really the greatest draft of all-time? Now that is a debate more worthy than Nash-Iverson.
It really comes down to 1984 and 1996 in the G.O.A.T debate. 2003 might make it a three horse race in the future, but it is still too early for LeBron & Co. to really be a true threat. In terms of quantity, 1996 is the undisputed champion of the world. No other draft class has produced more All-Stars or more All-NBA players than 1996. But 1984 has the best shooting guard and best player of all-time in Michael Jordan and top five all-time greats at point guard (John Stockton), power forward (Charles Barkley) and center (Hakeem Olajuwon). All 1996 has is the second-best shooting guard of all-time in Kobe Bryant, probably three other Hall of Famers and a bunch of other players who had real good careers.
So, as incredibly deep as 1996 is, you can’t really argue against MJ, Stockton, Barkley and Olajuwon being the winners. Can you?
1996 NBA Draft
All-Stars: 11 (Allen Iverson, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Antoine Walker, Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace)
Biggest Bust: Todd Fuller, Golden State, pick No. 11
Second Round Steal: Jeff McInnis, Denver, pick No. 37
Winning Team (in the long run): Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe Bryant)
Career Scoring Leader: Allen Iverson
Career Rebounding Leader: Ben Wallace
Career Assist Leader: Steve Nash
Pick No. 1 | Philadelphia 76ers
Actual Selection: Allen Iverson
Draft 365 Remix: Kobe Bryant (13)
The basketball universe as we know it would have been irrevocably altered if Philly had chosen the hometown boy Kobe instead of AI. Shaq and Kobe wouldn’t have a fistful of rings. Iverson probably wouldn’t be as beloved as he is (after all, he seems to have been made for Philly). It’s hard to really fault the Sixers for their choice though – they passed on one Hall of Famer to choose another. The player they did pass on, though, turned out to be one of the greatest of all-time.
Pick No. 2 | Toronto Raptors
Actual Selection: Marcus Camby
Draft 365 Remix: Allen Iverson (1)
It was already mentioned above why Iverson beat Nash out for the No. 2 slot. As much as critics like to beat on Iverson for his tats, or his shot-happy ways, they can’t knock the man’s heart. The greatest, toughest little man to ever player in the NBA?
Pick No. 3 | Vancouver Grizzlies
Actual Selection: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Draft 365 Remix: Steve Nash (15)
The same thing that was said about Kobe and Philly can be said about Steve Nash and Vancouver — what if the Grizzlies selected the “hometown” hero instead of Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Would Nash’s presence have been enough to keep the franchise north of the border? Impossible to say, just as it was almost impossible to predict back in 1996 that Nash would be the only two-time MVP from his draft class.
Pick No. 4 | Milwaukee Bucks
Actual Selection: Stephon Marbury
Draft 365 Remix: Ray Allen (5)
The NBA’s reigning three-point king, Ray Allen also possesses one of the sweetest strokes you are ever going to see on the court. Nine-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, NBA champion — is there anything Jesus (Shuttlesworth) can’t do?
Pick No. 5 | Minnesota Timberwolves
Actual Selection: Ray Allen
Draft 365 Remix: Ben Wallace (Not drafted)
The first undrafted player to make it into one of our remixes (apologies to Brad Miller who was accidentally overlooking in 1998), Ben Wallace has had the most unusual career – a late bloomer who burned out early. But when he was at the peak of his powers, there wasn’t a more intimidating defensive player around. No other undrafted player can boast four All-Star selections, five All-NBA appearances and four Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Pick No. 6 | Boston Celtics
Actual Selection: Antoine Walker
Draft 365 Remix: Jermaine O’Neal (17)
Jermaine O’Neal looked like another high school bust — during his first four seasons in Portland he barely sniffed the court. But after being emancipated to Indiana, he became a six-time All-Star and three-time member of the All-NBA team. But, like Wallace, he blossomed late (not in regards to his age though) and burned out early.
Pick No. 7 | Los Angeles Clippers
Actual Selection: Lorenzen Wright
Draft 365 Remix: Stephon Marbury (4)
Before he became an internet sensation (for all the wrong reasons) and before all that messy business in New York with Zeke, Stephon Marbury has going to revolutionize the point guard position in the NBA. While he never did quite achieve that, he had a great career — a two-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA recipient.
Pick No. 8 | New Jersey Nets
Actual Selection: Kerry Kittles
Draft 365 Remix: Peja Stojakovic (14)
NBA fans upset that Ricky Rubio decided against coming across the pond to play this year need to remember about Peja Stojakovic. Peja played a couple of more years in Greece after being picked by Sacramento, and he entered the NBA a better player because of it.
Pick No. 9 | Dallas Mavericks
Actual Selection: Samaki Walker
Draft 365 Remix: Antoine Walker (6)
Before he was known for his gambling problems and for his battles with the bulge (OK, maybe not before that), Antoine Walker was a deadly gunner. As an early running mate of Paul Pierce’s, Walker made three All-Star teams even though the bad shot identifier in his brain was malfunctioning.
Pick No. 10 | Indiana Pacers
Actual Selection: Erick Dampier
Draft 365 Remix: Marcus Camby (2)
It’s a crime that Marcus Camby has never made an All-Star team (well, maybe its not a felony, but at least it’s a misdemeanor). Amazingly, the skinny, brittle Camby has gotten better the older he has gotten — he’s made four All-Defensive Team appearances and won the Defensive Player of the Year award since turning 30.
Barely missed the Top 10 Remix: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Derek Fisher, Kerry Kittles.
Next on the Remix: The Kid opens up the high school floodgates.
Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto.