1991 NBA Draft Remix
Drivers in the paint were now subject to a firm finger-wagging.
Maybe it’s our fault for having unreasonable expectations. Maybe it’s the players’ fault for not working hard enough and capitalizing on their talents. Maybe it’s The Fates fault, causing the players untimely injuries or death. Whatever the reason, the 1991 NBA Draft class was a disappointment (besides that finger-wagging Congolese center).
Back injuries cut Larry Johnson’s career (and effectiveness) short. Kenny Anderson became just another overhyped NYC point guard. Billy Owens did not become the next Larry Bird. Steve Smith did not become the next Magic Johnson. Bison Dele and Bobby Phills lives were tragically cut short. And that is not even mentioning lottery busts such as Doug Smith, Luc Longley and Mark Macon. Blame it on whatever you choose, but it all adds up to a disappointing draft class.
1991 NBA Draft
All-Stars: 7 (Larry Johnson, Kenny Anderson, Dikembe Mutombo, Steve Smith, Terrell Brandon, Dale Davis, Chris Gatling)
Biggest Bust: Mark Macon, Denver, pick No. 8
Second Round Steal: Bobby Phills, Milwaukee, pick No. 45
Winning Team (in the long run): Atlanta Hawks (Dikembe Mutombo, Steve Smith)
Career Scoring Leader: Steve Smith
Career Rebounding Leader: Dikembe Mutombo
Career Assist Leader: Kenny Anderson
Pick No. 1 | Charlotte Hornets
Actual Selection: Larry Johnson
Draft 365 Remix: Dikembe Mutombo (4)
In a few short days the NBA season will tip off for the first time since 1991 without Dikembe Mutombo on a team’s roster. For a guy considered to not be an offensive threat, you’d probably be surprised to know that Mutombo averaged in double figures in scoring his first 11 years in the League. His Hall of Fame career also includes five blocks titles, four rebounding titles, eight All-Star appearances, four Defensive Player of the Year awards, six All-Defensive Team nominations and three All-NBA appearances. And he’s second all-time in career blocks. But, perhaps most impressively, he had a McDonald’s meal deal named after him.
Pick No. 2 | New Jersey Nets
Actual Selection: Kenny Anderson
Draft 365 Remix: Larry Johnson (1)
Fans who only remember Larry Johnson from his New York Knicks years need to go and find video of Grandmama from early in his career (or during his college days). Or better yet, go and take a look at the cover of the premier issue of SLAM. Before back injuries sapped him of his strength, LJ has a high flying beast, a 6-6, 250 pound forward capable of pounding you inside of knocking down outside jumpers. His greatest season was 1993 with Charlotte, when he went off for 22, 11 and 4.
Pick No. 3 | Sacramento Kings
Actual Selection: Billy Owens
Draft 365 Remix: Steve Smith (5)
The Magic Johnson comparisons were unwarranted, but Steve Smith did share qualities with his fellow Michigan State Spartan. They were both big guards who could pass, rebound and score. Yet, despite having a long career and scoring more points than anyone else in his draft class, Steve Smith’s career just didn’t hit the heights most hoped for.
Pick No. 4 | Denver Nuggets
Actual Selection: Dikembe Mutombo
Draft 365 Remix: Kenny Anderson (2)
As has often been the case the past few decades, Kenny Anderson was a New York City point guard who didn’t quite live up to his hype (whether that is the player’s fault or the fans’/medias’ fault we’ll leave for you to debate). Anderson had about five real solid years in the NBA (including an All-Star campaign in 1994) and then became a journeyman the rest of his career.
Pick No. 5 | Miami Heat
Actual Selection: Steve Smith
Draft 365 Remix: Terrell Brandon (11)
In 1997 Sports Illustrated dubbed Terrell Brandon the best point guard in the NBA. While that probably wasn’t the case, it wasn’t too far from the truth — at that point in his career Brandon was good for 20, 6 and 4 a night. One of the last sub-6-footers to be a standout in the League, knee injuries put him on the sidelines early at age 32.
Pick No. 6 | Dallas Mavericks
Actual Selection: Doug Smith
Draft 365 Remix: Dale Davis (13)
Dale Davis was one of those dudes that you just didn’t mess with, on the court or off it. The enforcer in the paint for some very good Indiana teams in the 1990s, Davis’ blue-collar effort was rewarded with an invite to the 2000 All-Star Game.
Pick No. 7 | Minnesota Timberwolves
Actual Selection: Luc Longley
Draft 365 Remix: Darrell Armstrong (Undrafted)
Most of us, thinking back, remember Darrell Armstrong as not much more than an average player. His resume, however, tells a different story — 1999 Most Improved Player, 1999 Sixth Man of the Year and top 15 finishes in MVP voting in 1999 and 2000.
Pick No. 8 | Denver Nuggets
Actual Selection: Mark Macon
Draft 365 Remix: Rick Fox (24)
Along with a killer last name, Rick Fox was also a solid pro, capable of doing pretty much anything you needed from him on the basketball court. His best year was 1997 with Boston, when he put up 15, 5 & 4.
Pick No. 9 | Atlanta Hawks
Actual Selection: Stacey Augmon
Draft 365 Remix: Billy Owens (3)
Once dubbed as a heir to Larry Bird, Billy Owens never reached those heights, plagued by claims of laziness and poor conditioning. But when he was on, he could score, pass and rebound similar to that Bird guy.
Pick No. 10 | Orlando Magic
Actual Selection: Brian Williams (Bison Dele)
Draft 365 Remix: Bobby Phills (45)
Bobby Phills was a standout defender and capable scorer for Cleveland early in his career, and was proving to be the same for Charlotte when his life was cut short while reportedly drag racing teammate David Wesley.
Barely missed the Top 10 Remix: Chris Gatling, Stacey Augmon, Bison Dele, Eric Murdock.
Next on the Remix: The Glove and a bunch of busts bring in the 1990s.
Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto.