Pretending things could’ve been different if GM’s could have actually predicted the outcome of their draftees’ careers is one of our favorite things to do, and tonight it’s 1998’s class’ turn to take a step forward and be redrafted.
The 1998 draft was one of the most special of the past 20 years or so, and now as we lean towards the final stages of the careers of most of the talented players that are still among the NBA active players, we can definitely take a look back and view what could’ve been of the league if those players would’ve landed elsewhere in the right order considering what they achieved in their respective careers. So, let’s get to it.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Original Pick: Michael Olowokandi
Re-draft Pick: Dirk Nowitzki
Do we really need to explain this one? Really? Ok. Well, Michael Olowokandi only lasted 8 full seasons in the NBA, playing just half of them for the Los Angeles Clippers before playing for the Timberwolves and the Celtics, averaging 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds at Center.
On the other hand, we have a top 3 foreign player in NBA history, a guy that won an MVP, an NBA championship and Finals MVP, made 13 All-Star appearances in 18 seasons and has scored more than 30,000 career points, being the ultimate face of the Dallas Mavericks.
2. Vancouver Grizzlies
Original Pick: Mike Bibby
Re-draft Pick: Paul Pierce
Don’t get us wrong, Bibby was actually a pretty solid player, but what would’ve been of this franchise if they would’ve landed “The Truth” instead, as the future Hall of Famer will definitely go down as one of the greatest small forwards in NBA history.
Pierce just recently retired after 18 seasons, leaving lifetime averages of 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game on over 44% from the field, as well as earning the 07-08 Finals MVP honours and an NBA championship as one of the most iconic faces to ever lace them up for the Boston Celtics.
3. Denver Nuggets
Original Pick: Raef LaFrentz
Re-draft Pick: Vince Carter
Who the hell is Raef LaFrentz? Exactly, this guy spent 9 years in the Association as a member of the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics, averaging 10.1 points and 6.1 boards in just over 25 minutes per game during his career.
In the meantime, Vince Carter took the league for assault with his explosiveness and athleticism, earning the Rookie of the Year award and being one of the most important and influential players of his time, as well as being probably the greatest dunker in NBA history. Now, at age 40, “Air Canada” is still looking to win an NBA championship before leaving the courts.
4. Toronto Raptors
Original Pick: Antawn Jamison
Re-draft Pick: Antawn Jamison
Jamison landed just where he needed to as the fourth greatest talent in this 1998 class, as the 2-time All-Star, one-time Sixth Man of the Year and member of the 98-99 All-Rookie selection was one of the most versatile forwards of his era as a member of the Warriors (where he was immediately dealt in order to get Vince Carter), Mavericks, Wizards, Cavs, Lakers and Clippers.
Through his entire career, the forward left nightly averages of 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 helpers and 1 steal with just 1.4 turnovers per contest in over 34.8 minutes and on 45.1% from the floor as well as over 35% from beyond the arc.
5. Golden State Warriors
Original Pick: Vince Carter
Re-draft Pick: Rashard Lewis
With the amazingly talented Vince Carter already picked third by the Nuggets, the obvious go-to-guy is Rashard Lewis, a guy that was a major steal at 32 by the Seattle Supersonics due to some health issues that caused the 15-year veteran to fall all the way down to the second round of the draft.
Still, Lewis was one of the most solid players of his time at both forward spots, making it to 2 All-Star games and finally winning a championship with the Miami Heat besides playing for the Sonics, Magic and Wizards, averaging 14.9 points and 5.2 rebounds with 1.1 steals per game.
6. Dallas Mavericks
Original Pick: Robert Traylor
Re-draft Pick: Mike Bibby
Well, as we already saw Dirk Nowitzki go first to the Los Angeles Clippers and Mike Bibby being surpassed by Paul Pierce, the tweener guard would be the obvious choice for a Mavs team that originally picked Traylor just to immediately send him to the Bucks to draft Dirk.
Well, Bibby spent 13 years in the Association, reaching his prime as a member of the Sacramento Kings during a 6-year tenure, leaving lifetime averages of 14.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, being a very solid player but not that solid to go as high as 2, obviously.
7. Sacramento Kings
Original Pick: Jason Williams
Re-draft Pick: Brad Miller
Well, Brad Miller definitely wasn’t as flashy or impressive as Jason Williams and his amazingly entertaining passes, but the 13-year veteran was one of the most restless and committed guys on the floor whenever he was asked to step up.
In fact, Miller is (alongside Ben Wallace) the only undrafted player to ever make it to a couple of All-Star games, playing for the Hornets, Bulls, Pacers, Kings, Rockets and Timberwolves as a very reliable and consistent rebounder on both ends of the floor.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Larry Hughes
Re-draft Pick: Larry Hughes
Hughes was another guy that landed just where he deserved to, going 8th overall to Philadelphia, where he’d stay for just a season before playing for the Warriors, Wizards, Timberwolves, Bulls, Cavs, Knicks, Magic and Bobcats as a very versatile defender at either guard spot and even the small forward position.
Hughes was unstoppable in the passing lanes, stealing almost 2 balls per game while also being a very versatile scorer, although some shooting inconsistencies and poor shot selection really stalled his development. Still, he managed to average over 14 points and 3.5 assists per game through his 13-year career.
9. Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Dirk Nowitzki
Re-Draft Pick: Al Harrington
Well, the Bucks must definitely be very angry for trading up to land Traylor instead of just keeping Dirk, but to be fair; if anybody had even had a single clue of what the German PF would’ve become, he wouldn’t be available at this spot.
Instead, the Bucks would have to “settle” with the 25th pick of this draft, a fierce big guy with a lot of feel for the game and the ability to play at both forward spots and even the center position, averaging 13.5 points and over 5 rebounds per game through his entire career.
10. Boston Celtic
Original Pick: Paul Pierce
Re-draft Pick: Jason Williams
Well, the Boston Celtics got a major steal with Pierce still available at 10, but they would’ve also been quite good if they landed Jason Williams in this spot, the 7th pick of this draft, as one of the most flashy playmakers in NBA history.
“White Chocolate” was probably one of the most impressive players on the court and a human highlight film with absurdly entertaining no-look passes, elbow passes, bounce passes and many crafty moves to keep fans on their feet, being a member of the 2006 Miami Heat squad that went all the way to win the ring.
11. Detroit Pistons
Original Pick: Bonzi Wells
Re-Draft Pick: Ricky Davis
The Pistons decided to go with Bonzi Wells at eleven, but this guy was never able to find a consistent role as a scorer or as a defender in the league, struggling to get some actual playing time for any of his teams.
On the other hand, Ricky Davis had a pretty decent NBA stint as a scorer before playing overseas, as “Ricky Buckets” left career averages of 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a guard/forward, originally going 21st to Charlotte.
12. Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Michael Doleac
Re-Draft Pick: Rafer Alston
Michael Doleac was one of the biggest flops of this draft going as high as 12 to the Orlando Magic, just to average 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds as a center through 9 years in the Association as a member of the Magic, Cavs, Knicks, Nuggets, Heat and Timberwolves despite a very promising rookie season.
Alston, on the other hand, wasn’t precisely an incredible talent, but he definitely deserved to go higher than 39th, leaving career averages of 10.1 points and 4.8 assists per game as a point guard, making a nice transition to the NBA after becoming famous with a videotape filled with crafty moves as an And 1 member.
13. Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Keon Clark
Re-draft Pick: Ruben Patterson
Clark was yet another horrible selection by the Orlando Magic, only lasting 5 full seasons in the NBA playing for the same amount of teams, although he was immediately dealt to the Denver Nuggets, leaving lifetime numbers of 8.2 points and 5.9 boards as a center.
On the other hand, Patterson had a nice career from 1999 to 2008 as a very pesky defender, better known as the “Kobe Stopper” at the guard/forward spot. Sadly, his poor behavior and lack of discipline as a member of the so-called “Jail Blazers” made this troublemaker a very difficult guy to deal with, completely stopping him from reaching what he could’ve been.
14. Houston Rockets
Original Pick: Michael Dickerson
Re-draft Pick: Rasho Nesterovic
Michael Dickerson was definitely a very promising prospect, so it’s only fair to give the Rockets a break for selecting him with the 14th overall pick. Sadly, severe injuries stopped him from being the great offensive force everybody expected him to be, forcing him to retire after just 4 seasons in the NBA.
So, the Rockets would’ve definitely preferred to go with Rasho Nesterovic, a 7 footer out of Slovenia that spent 12 seasons in the Association as a member of the Timberwolves, Spurs (where he won the ring in 2005), Pacers and Raptors, averaging over 6 points and 5 boards in just over 22 minutes per night as a very productive backup big man.
15. Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Matt Harpring
Re-draft Pick: Matt Harpring
Harpring wasn’t much of an impressive player in any given aspect of the game, but he still managed to have a pretty decent 10 year NBA career as a member of the Magic, Cavs, Sixers and Jazz after a very decent rookie season.
As a guard/forward, he averaged 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and just over 1 assists per game, being known as a pure sharpshooter out of Georgia Tech, but struggling to shine after a couple of seasons in the Association.
16. Houston Rockets
Original Pick: Bryce Drew
Re-draft Pick: Tyronn Lue
If you don’t know who Bryce Drew is, don’t worry, we also had to Google him. Well, Drew only lasted for 5 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Rockets, Bulls and Hornets during that tenure and averaging just over 4 points and a couple of assists per contest.
The Rockets should’ve gone with Tyronn Lue instead, and perhaps they would’ve saved him the embarrassment of being stepped over after a three-pointer from Allen Iverson when Lue played for the Lakers, probably the greatest highlight of his playing career.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Rasho Nesterovic
Re-draft Pick: Michael Doleac
With Rasho Nesterovic already out of the picture, the Timberwolves wouldn’t have a lot to work with, having to settle for the actual 12th pick of this Draft, Michael Doleac, the ultimate leader of the University of Utah.
Needless to say, Doleac couldn’t replicate his NCAA success in the NBA, although he did reunite with his former teammate Shaquille O’Neal during the big guy’s Miami Heat stint to win an NBA Championship.
18. Houston Rockets
Original Pick: Mirsad Turkcan
Re-draft Pick: Pat Garrity
Mirsad Turkcan was a complete waste of a pick by the Houston Rockets picking him 18th overall, as the Turkish player didn’t even make his NBA debut until the 2000-2001 campaign, the first and last of his failed NBA stint.
In the meantime, Pat Garrity spent 9 full seasons in the Association while leaving career averages of 7.3 points and over a couple of rebounds a game, not quite impressive numbers as a backup forward of the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings.
19. Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Pat Garrity
Re-draft Pick: Michael Olowokandi
Well, things are starting to get quite ugly here as every single good player is already gone. So, with their actual 19th pick already drafted by the Houston Rockets, the Bucks would have to go with the 1st overall pick of this draft, Michael Olowokandi.
Olowokandi was a very intriguing prospect out of college, and after making the second All-Rookie team during his first campaign, people were actually expecting a lot of him. Needless to say, he’ll go down as one of the greatest flaws in Clipper history, a franchise that has always been the laughing stock of the other teams.
20. Atlanta Hawks
Original Pick: Roshown McLeod
Re-draft Pick: Robert Traylor
The Atlanta Hawks decided to go with Roshown McLeod, a Small Forward out of Duke whose passage through the league only lasted for a couple of seasons, playing for them and the Philadelphia 76ers before being forced to retire due to injuries.
But what if we tell you that they could actually have the guy the Bucks traded up to get instead of Dirk Nowitzki? Ah? Ah? Well, that wouldn’t be pretty great either, as Traylor was a below average backup big man that averaged over 5 points and 4 boards through 6 years in the NBA.
21. Charlotte Hornets
Original Pick: Ricky Davis
Re-Draft Pick: Brian Skinner
Well, the Hornets actually got a huge steal in real life when they decided to draft Ricky Davis at 21, but in this re-do, they’d have to settle for the 13 season veteran out of Baylor that went 22nd in this draft to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Through 13 seasons, Skinner played for 10 different franchises, averaging 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on 49.4% from the floor and 33.3% from three point territory as a backup power forward and center.
22. Los Angeles Clippers
Original Pick: Brian Skinner
Re-draft Pick: Raef LaFrentz
Raef LaFtenz had a very solid first four seasons, averaging more than 12 points per game, but after that he only had one season with more than 10 points. He spent only 10 seasons in the NBA, and he was a solid stretch four with almost 1 3PTS per game.
He had two seasons with the offensive rating in the Top 10 and during his career, he earned more than $80,000,000 million in the NBA.
23. Denver Nuggets
Original Pick: Tyronn Lue
Re-draft Pick: Keon Clark
Well, Lue was already gone and we’re definitely running out of players here, so the Nuggets would’ve had to go with the actual 13th pick of this draft, the huge flop out of UNLV, Keon Clark, a defensive standout that struggled to find a home in the Association.
Clark had several misconduct incidents, even having to serve an 8-year prison sentence due to weapon charges, but he was an elite rim protector and he even owns the record for most blocks in Toronto Raptors history, swatting 12 shots way back then in 2001.
24. San Antonio Spurs
Original Pick: Felipe Lopez
Re-draft Pick: Sam Jacobson
Felipe Lopez came as yet another international prospect for the San Antonio Spurs, hoping the Shooting Guard out of St Johns would provide an offensive boost off the bench for Pop’s squad, but the Dominican mightily struggled and only lasted for 3 seasons in the NBA.
Instead, they could’ve gone with Sam Jacobson, whose NBA stint didn’t go any well either, but Jacobson being a standout college player, perhaps he would have way more playing time at the Spurs than he did with the Lakers and he could’ve been what everybody expected of him coming out of Minnesota.
25. Indiana Pacers
Original Pick: Al Harrington
Re-draft Pick: Vladimir Stepania
We’ve already talked about the talents of Harrington and his offensive consistency, although he wasn’t really valued during his time with the Pacers, and is mostly remembered as the trade chip they used to land Stephen Jackson.
So, with Harrington already gone at 25, the Pacers could’ve gone with Vladimir Stepania, a Georgian Center coming from Slovenia whose NBA journey lasted for 5 campaigns and played for 4 different teams.
26. Los Angeles Lakers
Original Pick: Sam Jacobson
Re-Draft Pick: Corey Benjamin
As we stated before, Jacobson was actually a very interesting prospect due to his amazing talent and impressive performances during his time in the NCAA, although the lack of playing time prevented him from actually developing into an NBA caliber player.
So, with him already gone at 26th, the Lakers could’ve gone with Corey Benjamin, a guy that could never thrive in the NBA due to lack of consistent playing time, spending most of his career abroad or playing for several D-League teams.
27. Seattle Supersonics
Original Pick: Vladimir Stepania
Re-draft Pick: Roshown McLeod
Well, Stepania wasn’t quite impressive during his 5-year NBA stint, averaging just over 4 points and 4 rebounds as a backup center for the Supersonics, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers.
So instead, they could’ve gone with the actual 20th selection of this draft, as McLeod seemed to be a star in the making due to his restless training and great work ethic, although as we mentioned, injuries prevented him from ever becoming a guy you’d remember at this point.
28. Chicago Bulls
Original Pick: Corey Benjamin
Re-draft Pick: Felipe Lopez
Well, the Bulls actually got a pretty decent player with Benjamin, but as they didn’t hand him the extension the greedy youngster wanted, he preferred to spend a season in Europe before making a failed return to the NBA.
So, with him already gone a couple of choices ago, the Bulls would’ve had to go with the Dominican that went to the Spurs some picks ago, a fierce scorer and fast player at NCAA level that never had a chance to prove his value in the NBA.
29. Utah Jazz
Original Pick: Nazr Mohammed
Re-draft Pick: Nazr Mohammed
And the last guy of this draft has to be Nazr Mohammed, a very solid backup center that’s more known as a vocal leader and veteran teammate on the bench that an actual difference maker on the court.
The Kentucky product played for the Sixers, Hawks, Knicks, Spurs, Pistons, Bobcats, Thunder and Bulls, lasting 18 full campaigns in the greatest league in competitive basketball, averaging 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, being a member of the 2005 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.