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December, 2006

First of a Series

The NBA Draft Examined

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Picks Of the Last 20 Years

by LouV

It takes a long time to evaluate an NBA draft. It isn't until years later that you know how players' careers have evolved. Some players take years to develop; others start out well in the NBA, but then peter out. This weekly column examines the NBA drafts of the last 20 years. Each week we'll put a draft under the microscope, unearthing good picks, bad picks, steals, and disasters, and provide a skinny on each player. This week, we examine .. 

The June 1996 NBA Draft

First Round

  1. 

Allen Iverson, 
Georgetown

Philadelphia

If this draft were held again, maybe Steve Nash, picked 15th, goes here. Or Kobe Bryant (# 13). And then Jermaine O'Neal (# 17). I'd also rather have Camby. Iverson has certainly been a great player; just too small to be the 'next Jordan' like they said he was going to be. Nobody believed 'them' in 1996, and nobody was right. 

  2.

Marcus Camby,
Massachusetts

Toronto

Good pick at #2. Isiah Thomas made this pick. Camby is one of the great rebounders and shotblockers of the last 10 years; a guy who plays above the rim. Knicks' Ernie Grunfeld made a great trade to get him for an aging Charles Oakley, but then Stu Laden traded him and the #7 pick in the 2002 draft (which rumour had it the Knicks were looking to select Amare Stoudemire with, but then chose Nene Hillario for Denver) for a 29-year-old-two-knee-operations Antonio McDyess. Worst trade in Knicks history, maybe NBA history. Where would the Knicks have been the last 10 years with Camby and Stoudemire on their front line? In one single move, Stu Laden stifled the Knicks for years to come.

  3.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim,
California

Vancouver

A star power forward for years, and not a bad pick, considering of course that Vancouver had no way of knowing Bryant, O'Neal, and Nash would be as good as they became.. 

  4.

Stephon Marbury,
Georgia Tech

Milwaukee (a)

So in hindsight Steve Nash was the best point guard picked in this draft. Marbury has been a joy to watch, slicing through defenses like a hot knife through butter. But he has been a perpetual head case, with a me-against-the-world-even-my-teamates mentality. An individualistic brooder and loser.

  5.

Ray Allen,
Connecticut

Minnesota (a)

Great shooter. Great scorer. Not a mistake to take him at #5.

  6.

Antoine Walker,
Kentucky

Boston (from Dallas)

Most mistake-prone basketball player ever? Has spent a career as a player who seems to take bad shots at the worst times, going one-on-everybody to sink his team.  

  7.

Lorenzen Wright,
Memphis

LA Clippers

Has stuck around for a long career as a reserve 6'11" big man who gets 9-10 points a game. Not exactly what you want with the # 7 pick in the draft though. 

  8.

Kerry Kittles,
Villanova

New Jersey

A pretty good shooting guard; too light and small to become an impact player. In retrospect, the Nets should have gambled on Kobe Bryant here. A mistake.

  9.

Samaki Walker,
Louisville

Dallas (from Boston)

A career as a reserve, except for 2002 when he started for the Laker's championship team. Would have been a great second round pick, but at #9, a mistake.

10.

Erick Dampier,
Mississippi State

Indiana (from Denver)

It took a long time, but Dampier finally became a valued big man. A good pick, although it didn't work out for Indiana as they lost patience long before he became good. 

11.

Todd Fuller,
North Carolina State

Golden State

What a mistake.

12.

Vitaly Potapenko,
Wright State

Cleveland (from Wash.)

Forged a long career in the NBA as a 10 ppg forward. Not a great pick; especially if you consider who went next. 

13.

Kobe Bryant,
Lower Merion HS

Charlotte

Best player in the draft. Well him and Steve Nash. But Charlotte traded Bryant away soon after they picked him! Albiet for a hard-working, underrated, pretty good center in Vlade Divac. 

14.

Predrag Stojakovic,
PAOK (Greece)

Sacramento

Very good pick. Stojakovic has been a valued sharpshooter for years.

15.

Steve Nash,
Santa Clara

Phoenix

Phenomenal pick. According to Wikipedia, Suns fans booed when Nash was picked. Don Nelson's son Donnie influenced this pick, and then influenced his dad to acquire Nash for Dallas two years later for Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, the draft rights to Pat Garrity, and a first-round draft pick which was later used to select Shawn Marion  

16.

Tony Delk,
Kentucky

Charlotte (from Miami)

Has forged a long career as a decent NBA guard. A decent pick, but not a great pick considering Jermaine O'Neal was still available.

17.

Jermaine O'Neal,
Eau Claire HS

Portland

Phenomenal pick. The thing to do in this draft was to gamble on the high school players. Portland had no patience with O'Neal, however, and traded him to Indiana for aging, undersized power forward Dale Davis. One of the stupidist (on Portland's part), most one-sided trades in NBA history.

18.

John Wallace,
Syracuse

New York (from Detroit)

Knicks fans were excited when the Knicks drafted Wallace, an athletic big man who inherited Syracuse's power forward position from Derrick Coleman. Wallace looked good on paper, but didn't last long in the NBA. Proof that the MSG fateful, just like any NBA fans, really don't know what they're talking about when they boo or cheer picks on draft day. Wallace was a pick that didn't pay off, and when you consider Ilguaskas was still available, this was a big mistake for the Knicks.

19.

Walter McCarty,
Kentucky

New York (from Atlanta)

The Knicks other late first round pick -- McCarty made it! He looked good as a rookie, and continued to stick around for years with the Celtics. A good, athletic, head's up 6'7" small forward. A good pick, except for the fact that Ilgauskas was still available. Knicks had three picks at #17, 18, and 20, and managed to let Ilgauskas go through their fingers.

20.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas,
Lithuania

Cleveland

Great pick. The big 7'3" Ilguaskas has had a long career as a big time scorer and rebounder for Cleveland. The Knicks took pointers from this and selected Fredrick Weiss with their 15th pick several years later (1999). 

21.

Dontae Jones,
Mississippi State

New York

No. A college star. A nobody in the NBA. Lasted one year.

22.

Roy Rogers,
Alabama

Vancouver (from Houston)

Played a few years in NBA. Didn't catch on. 

23

Efthimis Rentzias,
PAOK

Denver (from Indiana)

Didn't catch on.

24

Derek Fisher,
Arkansas-Little Rock

LA Lakers

A terrific pick for #24. Fisher has had a long career as a clutch point guard who hit some big shots for the Lakers. A tough reserve guard and even a starter for full seasons with the Lakers. 

25

Martin Muursepp,
BC Kalev Tallinn

 Utah (b)

Played a few years, but didn't really catch on.

26.

Jerome Williams,
Georgetown

Detroit (from San Antonio)

The Junkyard Dog. Had a nice, long NBA career as a defensive specialist. A great pick at #26.

27

Brian Evans,
Indiana

Orlando

Played a few years as a reserve. 

28

Priest Lauderdale,
Peristeri (Greece)

Atlanta (from Seattle)

Played two years. Didn't catch on.

29

Travis Knight,
Connecticut

Chicago

Caught on and played 7 years in the NBA. Not a bad pick. Played on the Lakers 2000 championship team.

Second Round

30.

Othella Harrington,
Georgetown

Houston

The lefty. Has had a long, successful career as a reserve 6'9" power forward. Great pick. 

31.

Mark Hendrickson,
Washington State

Philadelphia

Didn't make it as an NBA player, although he did play one season as a reserve. Instead he went to baseball and became a starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. 

32.

Ryan Minor,
Oklahoma

Philadelphia

Another guy who was drafted by both the NBA and Major League Baseball. He went to baseball also, becoming a 6'7" third baseman with Baltimore for three years.

33.

Moochie Norris,
West Florida

Milwaukee

Has had a long career as a reserve point guard. Good pick at #33.

34.

Shawn Harvey,
West Virginia St.

Dallas

Didn't catch on.

35.

Joseph Blair,
Arizona

Seattle

Didn't catch on.

36.

Doron Sheffer,
Connecticut

LA Clippers

Didn't catch on.

37.

Jeff McInnis,
North Carolina

Denver

One of the most successful players in this draft. The 6'4" guard has had a long NBA career, averaging double figures in points for most of it; lifetime average over 10 ppg. 

38.

Steve Hamer,
Tennessee

Boston

Didn't catch on.

39.

Russ Millard,
Iowa

Phoenix

Never appeared in an NBA game.

40.

Marcus Mann,
Miss. Valley St

Golden State

Didn't make it.

41.

Jason Sasser,
Texas Tech

Sacramento

Didn't make it.

42.

Randy Livingston,
Louisiana State

Houston

Has had a long career as a reserve guard.

43.

Ben Davis,
Arizona

Phoenix

Didn't catch on. Played a few years.

44.

Malik Rose,
Drexel

Charlotte

Long career as a tough defender and rebounding power forward; helped San Antonio to a couple of championships. Great pick this late. A sleeper; a steal. 

45.

Joe Vogel,
Colorado State

Seattle

Didn't make it.

46.

Marcus Brown,
Murray State

Portland

Didn't make it.

47.

Ron Riley,
Arizona State

Seattle

Didn't catch on.

48.

Jamie Feick,
Michigan State

Philadelphia

Played 5 years as a 6'9" reserve forward.

49.

Amal McCaskill,
Marquette

Orlando

Didn't catch on.

50.

Terrell Bell,
Georgia

Houston

Didn't catch on.

51.

Chris Robinson, Western,
Kentucky

Vancouver

Didn't catch on.

52.

Mark Pope,
Kentucky

Indiana

At 6'11, he still is hanging around the NBA, getting opportunities here and there.

53.

Jeff Nordgaard,
Wisc.-Green Bay

Milwaukee

Didn't make it.

54.

Shandon Anderson,
Georgia

Utah

Joe Dolan wishes Shandon Anderson didn't catch on. But he did. A great pick by Stu Laden, then the GM of Utah. One of the picks that helped brand Stu Laden a boy genious GM, which he parlayed into a big-money contract with the Knicks. But it was all a mirage as he uterly destoyed the Knicks franchise with bad decision after bad trade after bad decision, one of which was bringing reserve guard Shandon Anderson to NY and signing him to a huge, albatross contract. Still, picking him at #54 in this draft was a great pick.

55.

Ronnie Henderson,
Louisiana State

Washington

Didn't make it.

56.

Reggie Geary,
Arizona

Cleveland

Didn't make it.

57.

Drew Barry,
Georgia Tech

Seattle

One of Rick Barry's sons; only lasted a few years in NBA, not scoring much.

58.

Darnell Robinson,
Arkansas

Dallas

Didn't make it.

(a) Milwaukee traded the rights to Stephon Marbury to Minnesota for the rights to Ray Allen and a future first-round draft pick.

(b) Utah traded the rights to Martin Muursepp to Miami for a future first-round draft pick.

 

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1996 Draft Redux

If this draft were held again with perfect hindsight, perhaps it would go like this?

1. Steve Nash (15th)
2. Kobe Bryant (13th)
3. Jermaine O'Neal (17th)
4. Marcus Camby (2nd)
5. Alan Iverson (1st)
6. Zydrunas Ilgauskas (20th)
7. Stephon Marbury (4th) 
8. Predrag Stojakovic (14th)
9. Shareef Abdur-Rahim (3rd)
10. Ray Allen (5th)
11. Eric Dampier (10th)