1996 NBA Draft: Best Ever?

1996 NBA Draft - Best Draft In History?
The 1996 NBA Draft was loaded with studs.

The thing I remember most about the 1996 NBA Draft, particularly when draft order was determined during the Draft Lottery, was how excited 76ers President Pat Croce got when it was announced the Sixers would get the number one pick.

His personality, coupled with the success of the franchise over the next five years, basically spawned an entire reality TV career for him for the next several years.

But the reason he was excited was because it meant his team was going to get the player everyone coveted the most above all other players available; Allen Iverson.

In two years at Georgetown, Iverson averaged 23.0 ppg and was the Big East’s back to back Defensive Player of the Year, pretty amazing for a six foot guard. His quickness and leaping ability were equally amazing and the most impressive that a lot of people have ever seen to this day.

Historically speaking though, the most impactful player from the draft ended up being Kobe Bryant, drafted 13th out of Lower Marion HS.

Though Kevin Garnett had made the successful transition from HS directly to the pros a year earlier (the first time in 20 years), there were a lot of people who doubted Bryant would ever be able to make the transition, mainly because he wasn’t a big man like Garnett or wasn’t strong enough. But as it stands now, he may be the second best NBA player ever.

10 of the 29 first round picks would later become NBA All-Stars. This first round also contained three players who would later win MVP awards; Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson and Steve Nash.

This was a strange draft for the New York Knicks. They owned three first round picks (18, 19 and 21) which they used to select three front court players who never really panned out despite how promising they were in college; John Wallace from Syracuse, Walter McCarty from Kentucky and Dontae’ Jones from Mississippi State.

A few of the better 1996 NBA Draft picks:

– Allen Iverson at one

Marcus Camby at two

Shareef Abdur-Rahim at three

Stephon Marbury at four

Ray Allen at five

Antoine Walker at six

– Kobe Bryant at 13

Peja Stojakovic at 14

Steve Nash at 15

– Zydrunus Ilgauskas at 20

Derek Fisher at 24

A few solid 1996 NBA Draft picks that weren’t great:

Kerry Kittles at eight

Erick Dampier at 10

Tony Delk at 16

Jerome Williams at 26

A few 1996 NBA Draft picks that didn’t pan out:

Lorenzen Wright at seven

Samaki Walker at nine

Vitaly Potapenko at 12

Travis Knight at 29

Just like we saw with the 1984/1985 NBA Draft, a lot of these guys, though not great, stuck around and made an impact. The real only notable busts were Todd Fuller selected at 11th, Brian Evans at 27, Roy Rogers at 22 or Travis Knight at 29.

One trend that this draft set, or at least had a lot to do with establishing was players coming out of college after just one year or two years with five of the first seven picks (Iverson, Abdur-Rahim, Marbury, Walker, Wright) doing just that.

Was the 1996 NBA Draft the best draft in NBA history?

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I’ve been a freelance journalist since 2000 and have had my work published via AskMen, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Busted Coverage, and Autotrader. I’ve done stand-up comedy. I'm a dad, youth soccer coach, and team statistician for the oldest indoor football team in the world, the Omaha Beef. I own a design agency in Omaha, NE called little guy design. I’ve married six couples in 10 years and my Marriage to Still Married ratio is 6:6. I always say, it isn’t so much about the “love,” as it is the tasteless jokes that became vows. I started the I-80 Sports Blog to have all the work I've published located in one place and to write about things I want to write about. I don't take anything too seriously and it is a real time saver.