NBA Draft: Redrafting the 1996 NBA draft class
The NBA draft class of 1996 has often been regarded as one of the best in league history. Sports Illustrated ranked it as the second-best in history after the class of 1984, although I'm inclined to place 1996 as the best one myself. That is because of the sheer depth of talent and career accomplishments that each player has accumulated over the years.
5 out of the first 6 picks of the draft made it to at least one All-Star game. The only one who didn't make it was a Defensive Player of the Year and led the league in blocks per game four times. An undrafted player went on to become an All Star and a multiple winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award. 8 players from this draft class went on to be named to at least one All-NBA team at some point in their careers.
Derek Fisher was drafted with the 24th pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. He won 5 championships and made it to 8 NBA Finals in total, and he's, at best, a fringe contender for this list and does not make the cut for the top 10 here. The following players are our honorable mentions for this list:
Marcus Camby was drafted by the Toronto Raptors with the second overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft. While he never made an All-Star team due to not being that great of an offensive player, Camby was a dominant defensive player at his best.
He received Defensive Player of the Year honors for the 2006-07 season with the Denver Nuggets. In his sophomore season, he was already the most prolific shot-blocker in the league with an average of 3.7 blocks per game! Through the course of a long and largely successful career, Camby had 6 seasons averaging a points/rebounds double-double.
He was named to 4 All-Defensive teams and led the league in blocks per game for 3 consecutive seasons from 2005-06 to 2007-08. In a playing career of 17 years, Camby left a significant impact on the game.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim was one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft class, and was snapped up by the Vancouver Grizzlies with the 3rd pick. He justified his pick during his rookie contract, averaging 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game during his first 5 years in the league with the Grizzlies.
He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in 2001, among other players, as the Grizzlies acquired the 3rd pick of that draft (Pau Gasol) and a couple of other pieces. He made his first and only All Star team with the Hawks in his first season at Atlanta, finishing the season with averages of 21.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks.
Abdur-Rahim played a total of 13 seasons in the league, averaging 18.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.