One of the things that we as sports fans enjoy the most is looking back into the past and wondering what could’ve been of the sport we love if some things would’ve gone differently.
Just like the butterfly effect, with a minor change in a past event, the sport we love would be completely different from the one we have nowadays, and that’s one of the most beautiful and intriguing things about being an NBA fan.
The NBA Draft has always been one of the most exciting nights for NBA fans all over the world, although things tend to go a little bit different than expected when teams choose the players they’re putting their faith in, either because they wind up being major disappointments or because they’re way more than everybody originally expected from them.
So, today, we’re going to let our imagination flow and wonder what could’ve been of the NBA and their teams if all GMs knew exactly which players were going to be the best overall from the outstanding 1996 NBA Draft.
1. Philadelphia Sixers:
Original Pick: Allen Iverson
Re-draft Pick: Kobe Bryant
Originally picked at 13th, things would be way different for the Philadelphia kid that took the league for assault just a couple of years into his NBA career, winner of 1 MVP award and 5 NBA championships, becoming the best player in Los Angeles Lakers history despite all his haters.
Love it or hate it, you can’t erase Kobe’s legacy in the NBA, and even if the 76ers got a hell of a player in Allen Iverson, perhaps Kobe would have succeeded in their championship quest, as Iverson fell short against Kobe and his Lakers in the NBA Finals.
2. Toronto Raptors
Original Pick: Marcus Camby
Re-draft Pick: Steve Nash
Nobody expected Nash to be that good when the Suns drafted him out of Santa Clara with the 15th pick, but the 2-time MVP wound up being an indisputable Hall of Famer while completely changing the point guard position with his signature moves and great basketball IQ.
As reliable of a shooter as the best you’ll find, Nash carried the Phoenix Suns back to relevance despite not having a great supporting cast other than Amare Stoudemire, becoming a regular member of the 50-40-90 club thanks to his great shot selection and cleverness in the court. Besides, being a Canadian, what better pick for the Toronto Raptors?
3. Vancouver Grizzlies
Original Pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Re-draft Pick: Allen Iverson
Iverson is definitely the most gifted and talented player in this draft, and arguably one of the most talented players the NBA has ever seen at any position, being a dominant scorer and an athletic beast and fierce competitor, but his lack of discipline really cost him even if his legacy is completely unquestionable.
If Iverson would’ve gone to the Vancouver Grizzlies with the 3rd pick of the draft, perhaps he would’ve settled down instead of partying hard and spending his money on clothes and cars, and he would’ve gone down as the best shooting guard ever behind only Michael Jordan.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Stephon Marbury
Re-draft Pick: Ray Allen
There was absolutely no doubt about this shooting guard out of Uconn and his great talent on both ends of the floor, but he still could’ve gone a pick higher to get to the Milwaukee Bucks without having to trade down sacrifice a future first round pick.
Allen became the ultimate three-point shooter while also leading his team during his prime, becoming one of the best shooting guards in NBA history and one of the most important players on 2 different NBA championship teams, although the youth may only remember him as a three-point shooter.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Ray Allen
Re-draft Pick: Jermaine O’Neal
Jermaine O’Neal was one of the most dominant centers in the NBA during his prime, even making it to 6 All-Star Games as well as winning the Most Improved Player award back in 2002 as a member of the Indiana Pacers, where he had the best years of his 17-year career.
With lifetime averages of 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds, Jermaine should’ve gone way higher than 17th, and he would definitely help the Timberwolves winning cause, playing alongside Kevin Garnett.
6. Boston Celtics
Original Pick: Antoine Walker
Re-draft Pick: Ben Wallace
It seems incredible nowadays, but Ben Wallace wasn’t even drafted in the class of 1996 despite being one of the best defenders this game has ever seen, and could you imagine if this beast would’ve been chosen instead of Antoine Walker for the Boston Celtics?
Wallace was, alongside Dikembe Mutombo, the ultimate winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, winning the distinction 4 times as well as making 6 All-Defensive team appearances, being one of the most fierce defenders in NBA history despite giving up a lot of inches to most of his rivals.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
Original Pick: Lorenzen Wright
Re-draft Pick: Stephon Marbury
Marbury was drafted 4th overall and immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves with a future 1st rounder to bring Ray Allen to the Bucks, but if things would’ve been different, he could’ve been the Clippers starting point guard for a long time, but instead, they wound up picking Lorenzen Wright.
With career averages of 19.3 points and 7.6 assists, Marbury was one of the best guards of his era, and even if he never took that final leap of quality to become an elite player, he had a hell of a career with the Wolves, Knicks, Nets, Suns and Celtics.
8. New Jersey Nets
Original Pick: Kerry Kittles
Re-draft Pick: Peja Stojakovic
The Kings got a hell of a player out of Yugoslavia when they got Peja at 14, while the New Jersey Nets wound up taking Kerry Kittles, something they wound up regretting when they knew they could’ve had one of the greatest scorers in European basketball history instead.
Stojakovic was an offensive specialist with a very reliable 3 point shot, averaging 17 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 45% from the floor and 40% for three point territory, helping the Mavericks off the bench in the last years of his NBA career, completely destroying the Los Angeles Lakers and clearing the way for the Mavs to the ring against the Miami Heat.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Original Pick: Samaki Walker
Re-draft Pick: Antoine Walker
Walker was a very solid player overall, but he could’ve fallen three picks later and nobody would’ve complained, especially the Dallas Mavericks, who had to settle with Samaki Walker at 9th instead.
Averaging 17.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists, Walker was a very solid player overall and a very important piece off the bench for the 2006 Miami Heat team that won their first title in franchise history, as well as making it to 3 All-Star Games.
10. Indiana Pacers
Original Pick: Eric Dampier
Re-draft Pick: Marcus Camby
Camby was the 2nd pick of this draft and even if the Toronto Raptors were right about the defensive specialist, he wasn’t better than any of the players listed above, so the Pacers would’ve picked him at 10.
The forward/center was a very solid player on both ends of the floor, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award at age 32 as a member of the Denver Nuggets and playing through 16 seasons and 81.2 win shares along his long career.
11. Golden State Warriors
Original Pick: Todd Fuller
Re-draft Pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
The power forward out of California was the 3rd pick in this draft, being a very solid player through his entire 11-year career and being one of the most iconic players in Grizzlies history, even being part of the trade that brought Pau Gasol to Memphis.
As a member of the Grizzlies, Hawks, Blazers and Kings, Reef averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, making it to one All-Star Game before retiring in Sacramento at the age of 31.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Vitaly Potapenko
Re-draft Pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Ilgauskas was one of LeBron’s favorite teammates and he even stated that Mozgov was the first true center he played alongside after leaving Ilgauskas and the Cavs, and even if he wasn’t the most impressive or gifted player, the European was one of the most reliable contributors for those Cleveland Cavaliers before retiring with the Heat back in 2011.
Averaging 13 points and almost 8 rebounds, the Lithuanian made his way to a couple of All-Star Games, although his NBA career began a couple of years after being drafted 20th overall by the Cavs, who also owned the 12th selection in this draft.
13. Charlotte Hornets
Original Pick: Kobe Bryant
Re-draft Pick: Kerry Kittles
Kittles was the 8th pick of the draft, spending only 8 years in the Association without much to be remembered for as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers and New Jersey Nets, where he works now as a scout since retiring at the age of 30.
The shooting guard was actually a starter during a couple of NBA Finals with the Nets, but you know how that story ended. Kittles left averages of 14.1 points, 3.9 boards and 2.6 assists on 43.9% from the field and 37.8% from three.
14. Sacramento Kings
Original Pick: Peja Stojakovic
Re-draft Pick: Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher could’ve been the 14th pick instead of the 24th, being selected by the Sacramento Kings that chose Stojakovic instead, owning the rights to one of the best backup point guards the league has seen over the last decade.
The 5-time NBA champion was always a very smart and pesky player despite playing off the bench, providing a lot of three-pointers while being a very streaky shooter that could’ve have a bigger career with other franchise with a more important role.
15. Phoenix Suns
Original Pick: Steve Nash
Re-draft Pick: Erick Dampier
Dampier wound up being the 10th pick, landing on the Pacers via Denver. Nonetheless, he could’ve been a very important asset for the Suns at 15th, although he wouldn’t have been half of important as Steve Nash was, obviously.
Still, spending 15 years in the Association, Dampier left behind averages of 7.4 points and 7.1 boards, pretty much off the bench as a role player, some pretty decent averages for a backup center in today’s NBA.
16. Charlotte Hornets
Original Pick: Tony Delk
Re-draft Pick: Tony Delk
Delk wound up going just where he was supposed to, spending 9 full seasons in the NBA as a member of the Hornets, Warriors, Kings, Suns, Celtics, Mavericks, Hawks and Pistons; failing to establish himself as an important player on any of those teams.
Leaving averages of 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 helpers per contest, the shooting guard out of the University of Kentucky was kind of a flop, with nothing much to show of his career besides his streaky shooting.
17. Portland Trail Blazers
Original Pick: Jermaine O’Neal
Re-draft Pick: Lorenzen Wright
Wright wound up being picked 10 picks ahead, but he should’ve gone to the Portland Trail Blazers instead of Jermaine O’Neal, as the 12-year veteran ended up being a major disappointment considering how high he went and how little he gave to the Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Cavaliers and Kings.
Through a dozen of seasons, the University of Memphis product did absolutely nothing memorable in the NBA, averaging 8 points and 6.4 rebounds in just over 23 minutes per contest.
18. New York Knicks
Original Pick: John Wallace
Re-draft Pick: Malik Rose
Rose ended up being picked in the second round at 44, completely overplaying his draft position, being a very productive player off the bench at power forward, even helping Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs win a couple of rings.
Malik was never known for his offense or explosiveness, but even if the stats don’t reflect it, he actually was an extremely capable defender, spending 7 and a half seasons under Pop’s tutelage, something quite difficult to achieve.
19. New York Knicks
Original Pick: Walter McCarty
Re-draft Pick: Chucky Atkins
The New York Knicks picked Walter McCarthy at 19 via the Hawks when they could’ve chosen Chucky Atkins, a 5’11 point guard out of the University of South Florida, that wound up going undrafted and signing for the Orlando Magic after spending a couple of seasons in Europe.
Retiring in 2010, Atkins also played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Washington Wizards, the Denver Nuggets and the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 9.9 points and 3.4 assists off the bench on 42% from the floor and over 36% from three.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Re-draft Pick: Jerome Williams
The 26th pick of this draft by the Detroit Pistons via San Antonio would’ve been a very nice addition for the Cleveland Cavaliers, considering Zydrunas Ilgauskas would’ve already been chosen.
The forward out of Georgetown was yet another pretty capable role player from this loaded draft, although he never had the chance to actually prove himself beside one season in Toronto where he averaged career highs of 9.7 points and 9.2 boards in 33 minutes, also a career high.
21. New York Knicks
Original Pick: Dontae’ Jones
Re-draft Pick: Jeff McInnis
McInnis went in the 2nd round at 37 to the Denver Nuggets, but the point guard out of UNC would’ve been better off at the New York Knicks, who chose yet another power forward in Dontae Jones.
The guard was never a great passer, but proved to be a fierce scorer off the bench with his lifetime averages of 9.9 points and 4.4 helpers per night through 11 seasons playing for 8 different NBA teams.
22. Vancouver Grizzlies
Original Pick: Roy Rogers
Re-draft Pick: Othella Harrington
The 1st pick of the second round would end up on the Memphis Grizzlies via Houston at 22, as the defensive specialist had a pretty solid NBA career of 11 years with the Rockets, Grizzlies, Bulls and Bobcats, where he retired at the age of 34.
Harrington was yet another dominant NCAA player that could never establish himself as a starter in the majors, but he still managed to leave career averages of 7.4 points and over 4 boards on 50% from the field.
23. Denver Nuggets
Original Pick: Efthimi Rentzias
Re-draft Pick: Shandon Anderson
Anderson left averages of 7.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.8 steals on 45% shooting and 31.6% from three point land, being one of the main guys off the bench for the Houston Rockets in the early 2000’s.
On top of that, during his final year in the NBA, he provided a lot of experience and leadership off the bench as a veteran for the 1st-time NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, retiring with a ring after 11 years in the league.
24. Los Angeles Lakers
Original Pick: Derek Fisher
Re-draft Pick: Walter McCarty
Well, we’re running out of good players to name right now, but with Derek Fisher already chosen there weren’t many other candidates left, so the 19th pick of this draft had to slip 5 spots in our imagination.
Playing for the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, Walter averaged just over 5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists on under 40% from the field, but c’mon, at least he lasted for 9 years in the association.
25. Utah Jazz
Original Pick: Martin Muursepp
Re-draft Pick: Adrian Griffin
Griffin only stayed in the NBA for 8 years and he played for 6 different teams, starting just 179 games over his NBA career while scoring less than two thousand points with no interesting features whatsoever in his game.
“The Hawk” out of Seton Hall University averaged 4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1 assists per game, retiring in 2008 after being undrafted that year and playing overseas for two years before being signed by the Celtics.
26. Detroit Pistons
Original Pick: Jerome Williams
Re-draft Pick: Vitaly Potapenko
Potapenko was an intriguing prospect during this draft, and that was enough for him to go as high as 12 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Needless to say, he wasn’t half as good as everybody expected him to be.
Through 10 years, the Ukrainian center spent just a couple of seasons with the Cavs after playing for the Celtics, Sonics, and Kings, averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on 48% from the field and a horrid 16.7% from three.
27. Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Brian Evans
Re-draft Pick: Moochie Norris
Norris originally went at 33 to the Milwaukee Bucks, but actually, he deserved to be a first rounder at 27 for the Orlando Magic, or at least he deserved it more than the original 27th pick: Brian Evans.
Moochie was never much of a scorer, but he was a better than average defensive point guard through his 9 seasons as a member of the Grizzlies, Sonics, Rockets, Knicks and Hornets, although his offensive efficiency was a real concern.
28. Atlanta Hawks
Original Pick: Priest Lauderdale
Re-draft Pick: Samaki Walker
The fact that this guy went as high as 9 is really hysterical, although, to be fair, the power forward out of Louisville seemed poised to take the league for assault after having a very impressive NCAA career.
Averaging 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 46% from the field, Walker was actually a part of the 2002 NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers, but if you notice the fact that Shaq was also a part of this team, you can tell that he didn’t have many touches.
29. Chicago Bulls
Original Pick: Travis Knight
Re-draft Pick: Erick Strickland
The last pick of the first round of this draft was Travis Knight, but Erick Strickland earned the right to go over him in our list as the final player in one of the most talent-crowded drafts in NBA history.
The shooting guard averaged 7.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per night on 39% from the field and 36% from three, playing for the Mavericks, Knicks, Grizzlies, Celtics, Pacers and Bucks through 8 seasons in the NBA.