NBA Draft Retrospect: 1996

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  1. Philadelphia

Kobe Bryant: This is absolutely no knock on Allen Iverson and his greatness, but the 76ers would take Kobe in a heartbeat. 5 rings is the obvious selling point for taking Kobe. Longevity is also a factor; Kobe is 35 and still playing, while Iverson is retired. An interesting thought is how he would have done playing alongside Tim Thomas and Joe Smith when they would have arrived the next season, and how would he have played with Stackhouse. What is even more interesting is to contemplate how far Jerry West would have gone to bring Kobe to Los Angeles. Would he have offered Eddie Jones along with Divac for a chance to draft the unproven high schooler? And if Philly said no, who would he turn to to complete his rebuilding of the Lakers?

Rank

1

  1. Toronto

Steve Nash: The Raptors would pass up on Iverson and select Nash to place in the same backcourt as reigning ROY in Damon Stoudamire. The selection came down to Nash or Iverson, but Iverson really needs the ball in his hands to be effective, which would make raining rookie of the year Stoudamire ineffective. Nash could have made Stoudamire into an offensive stud and allowed the Raptors to run at every opportunity, plus being from Canada couldn’t have hurt the Raptors following in Toronto. Also, imagine Nash, T-Mac and Vince Carter all in the same line up. McGrady might not have left if that was the core of the Raptors.

3

  1. Vancouver

Allen Iverson: The Grizzlies would still be in Vancouver if Iverson fell this late in the 1996 draft and the Grizzlies wouldn’t be that bad of a situation for Iverson. He would have complete control over the offense immediately and wouldn’t have the pressure of being a savior of a once proud franchise in big market. Also with Iverson, the mind can’t help but wonder what he and Antonio Daniels would have been like in the same backcourt. Iverson made Eric Snow look serviceable at times. Daniels was an unselfish player and fearless defender, but wasn’t nearly as limited as Snow was.

2

  1. Milwaukee

Stephon Marbury: But only this time they decide to keep Marbury instead of trading him for Ray Allen. Marbury would complement all-star power forward Vin Baker and rising star Glenn Robinson well and wouldn’t have much of the scoring load placed upon him. The reason for keeping Marbury is simple; they are desperate for backcourt help. An example of how desperate they are, next season they would trade Vin Baker for Terrell Brandon in the Shawn Kemp deal. So drafting Marbury now makes sense, but there is potential for disaster here if Marbury’s ego starts to surface.

6

  1. Minnesota

Ray Allen: With Isiah Rider gone, Minnesota needed a shooting guard to take some of the pressure away from their flourishing inside tandem of Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta. It would also allow Garnett to begin developing his creative skills as a point forward.

5

  1. Boston

Jermaine O’Neal: This selection makes the most sense. Boston was still in search for a legitimate big man 10 years after this draft, and Jermaine would have been a perfect fit. Had he been drafted by the Celtics, you could have pencilled him in as a starter midway through his rookie season and watched his development skyrocket.

3

  1. L.A. Clippers

Derek Fisher: This might seem surprising because I ranked Fisher as the 12th best player in the draft, but keep in mind that this is the Clippers. In the 96 draft they traded the number 2 pick, Antonio McDyess, for Brent Barry. For years, the Clippers had a fascination with budget, fundamentally sound players. Derek Fisher fits this mould perfectly, and would probably had still been their starting point guard until they traded for Chris Paul.

12

  1. New Jersey

Antoine Walker: With Sam Cassell, Jayson Williams and Kendall Gill, the Nets were one or two pieces away from the playoffs. Walker is the most NBA ready player available and was a SF when he entered the league, with would have allowed Kendall Gill to remain at his natural SG position.

9

  1. Dallas

Marcus Camby: At the time of this draft, the Mavericks still had Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn. Had they drafted such an athletic big guy like Camby, who can rebound and defend the inside with the best, maybe they could have kept their Big 3 without breaking them up and trading for Shawn Bradley.

7

  1. Indiana

Peja Stojakovic: At the time, the Pacers lacked any real Small Forward scoring. Derrick McKey was their starting small forward, but he was aging and never a scoring option. With Peja and Miller, along with a somewhat healthy Rik Smits and the Davis’, they Pacers might have won a championship or two during the Bird coaching era.

8

  1. Golden State

Shareef Abdur Rahim: This would be a perfect fit. Shareef, like Antoine Walker, entered the league as a SF. Joe Smith was emerging at the time as a star at power forward, and Latrell Sprewell was among the best shooting guards in the league. Shareef would have added muscle and scoring punch to a Warriors team that was desperate for it.

10

  1. Cleveland

Lorenzen Wright: The Cavs were deseperate for an answer to their power forward crisis (Tyronne Hill averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds after returning from his car accident) and Lorenzen Wright is the best available pick. A solid rebounder and defender, Wright isn’t the scorer that Cleveland needs, but he would start immediately and contribute right away. A safe pick.

13

  1. Charlotte

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: After trading Mourning for Glen Rice last season, there was a significant hole in the Hornets middle. Ilgauskas is almost a clone of Vlade in terms of his passing and outside shooting.

11