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Fantasy Redraft: The 1996 NBA Draft

Kobe, AI, Nash, Ray… And that’s just the beginning.

Allen Iverson is in the Public Domain

Fantasy Redraft: The 1996 NBA Draft

Estimated Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Drafting is a difficult proposition. It’s easy to look back on generational players that were passed over for busts that didn’t pan out. Redrafting a class after one, five, ten, twenty years is a favorite exercise of fans and followers of the game.

But what if you had to build your entire team from one particularly stacked draft class? What if you had to do it in a snake-draft format while five other teams are also trying to assemble a five-man starting lineup?

We set about seeing what would happen in our first ever Fantasy Redraft.

The Target: The 1996 NBA Draft

The goal: To draft a team of five players who, in their prime, would be competitive against the other five teams drafted in this exercise.

The rules: Only players listed on the Wikipedia page for the 1996 draft, either as selections or notable undrafted players, were eligible. While positions were somewhat flexible, drafters needed to assemble a reasonable team that could be on the floor together, nominally two guards, two forwards, and a center or third power forward.

The panel: Justin Colombo, Kevin Morin, Craig Kaufman, Terry Cudmore, Joe Danbusky, and Andrew Mark Wilhelm. Pick numbers were randomly assigned.

First, a refresher on what actually happened that night.

Now, here’s how our draft went down.

Picks 1-10

PickTeamPlayerOriginal Draft Position
1TerryKobe Bryant13
2JoeAllen Iverson1
3JustinSteve Nash15
4KevinRay Allen5
5CraigStephon Marbury4
6AndrewPeja Stojakovic14
7AndrewBen WallaceUndrafted
8CraigJulius Shareef Abdur-Rahim3
9KevinDerek Fisher24
10JustinMarcus Camby2

The first four players were no-brainers, with a slight decision at #2 between Iverson and Nash. Picks six and seven were also easy for Andrew, who confirmed that he would take whichever two were left of Peja, Starbury, and Wallace. Kevin became the first player to go Guard-Guard with his pick of Derek Fisher, while Justin paired Camby with Nash to close out the top ten.

Picks 11-20

PickTeamPlayerOriginal Draft Position
11JoeJermaine O’Neal17
12TerryAntoine Walker6
13TerryZydrunas Ilgauskas20
14JoeKerry Kittles8
15JustinJeff McInnis37
16KevinErick Dampier10
17CraigChucky AtkinsUndrafted
18AndrewTony Delk16
19AndrewMoochie Norris33
20CraigWalter McCarty19

The second and third rounds saw a mini-run on big men, as Joe, Terry, and Kevin filled out their center and power forward positions. Andrew, who still needed two guard slots filled, was stunned at my selection of Chucky Atkins, his undrafted sleeper, and had to settle for Delk and Norris. At #20, I went with my heart over my head, choosing hustle-man and Celtics fan favorite Walter McCarty over Jerome Williams, a better statistical forward.

Picks 21-30

PickTeamPlayerOriginal Draft Position
21KevinJerome Williams26
22JustinJohn Wallace18
23JoeMalik Rose44
24TerryShandon Anderson54
25TerryOthella Harrington30
26JoeLorenzen Wright7
27JustinVitaly Potapenko12
28KevinJamie Feick48
29CraigSamaki Walker9
30AndrewDarvin HamUndrafted


Here is how each of the teams shook out, including each player’s career averages. Below the team, each panelist discussed what their strategy was, how they adjusted as the draft went on, and how they feel about the way their team looked when the dust settled.

Terry Cudmore – “The Black Mambas”

Terry’s TeamPos.Ht.Pts/GmRebs/GmAst/GmStls/GmBlks/GmFG%3P%FT%
Kobe BryantSG6’6″
Othella HarringtonC/PF6’9″
Antoine WalkerPF6’8″
Shandon AndersonSF/SG6’6″
Zydrunas IlgauskasC7’3″
It took Terry about four seconds to send Kobe’s name after he was on the clock with the first pick.

“I really lucked out getting the first pick because while this was a loaded draft, getting a top 10 player of all-time in Kobe was a no-brainer.

I was really hoping Jermaine O’Neal was going to fall to me but getting another All-NBA guy was obviously too good to be true. As a C’s fan, I was happy to get Antoine, and then Ilgauskas was the last remaining all-star.

Shandon Anderson was my target in the fourth round, and I was thrilled I got him to round out my guard combo. I went back and forth a lot on the last guy as I considered Lorenzen Wright but I just couldn’t see him and Z on the floor together.

My squad is obviously very big, but I think Z could develop a deep game a la Aaron Baynes, and I like how I have three All-Stars and the best player from the draft.

I think my team is the best.”

Joe Danbusky – “The Practice Squad”

Joe’s TeamPos.Ht.Pts/GmRebs/GmAst/GmStls/GmBlks/GmFG%3P%FT%
Allen IversonPG/SG6’0″
Kerry KittlesSG6’5″
Malik RosePF6’7″
Jermaine O’NealC/PF6’11”
Lorenzen WrightC/PF6’11”

“I can’t really say I had any “strategy” coming in. Basketball is definitely one of my “weaker” sports in terms of knowledge, etc. so beyond name recognition, I didn’t have much of a plan going in.

I guess you might say I used the strategy a lot of people might use when filling out a March Madness bracket – relying on seeding more than anything else? I think for the most part I ended up picking the “best available” guy each round?

After Kobe was gone, it was a toss-up between AI and Nash for me. Then I grabbed Jermaine O’Neal for his versatility (C/PF) and to give myself wiggle room for future picks, depending on who would be left each round.

I feel like Kittles would be open for the 3-ball with Iverson more likely to draw a double-team. If memory serves, there weren’t that many solid guard options left and they were going fast.

At this point, I relied on the Google search I ran to try and get more educated opinions about how other people would’ve drafted. I think Malik Rose is a nice complementary piece to O’Neal (if I kept him at forward), and could be the “muscle” on the floor.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with a center in the 5th round or leave O’Neal at C and grab another forward. In the end, Lorenzen Wright seemed like a steal in this spot given what some other “experts” have said regarding where they felt he should’ve fallen in the draft in 96.

SO – in short, I combined my limited knowledge with some insight from other, more “in the know” resources who’ve done this as well. I couldn’t tell you how I think they stack up against the other teams – but I do feel like I’ve got a pretty solid, balanced squad and would be competitive.”

Justin Colombo – “The Nash/D’Antoni Suns But Instead of the Nash/D’Antoni Suns It’s Nash, Marcus Camby and Others”

Justin’s TeamPos.Ht.Pts/GmRebs/GmAst/GmStls/GmBlks/GmFG%3P%FT%
Steve NashPG6’3″
Jeff McInnisPG/SG6’4″
John WallaceSF6’8″
Marcus CambyC/PF6’11”
Vitaly PotapenkoC6’10”

“I began this team with Steve Nash because he’s the perfect centerpiece. Steve Nash on the Phoenix Suns with Mike D’Antoni revolutionized the game. If there’s a dude to build around, it’s Nash. And looking at his Suns squads, a lot of them were weird and excellent. Nash could play with anyone, and he’s a solid first pick. However, Nash needs a big man. That means my next pick had to be Marcus Camby. Once I got those two pieces, I needed to get shooters and one more big man. Vitaly Potapenko was my last pick, as the number of big men left towards the end of the draft was alarming. Potapenko will be fine, he’s there for rebounds.

The real issue was finding guards. Jeff McInnis and Joe Wallace were the best 3-point shooters on the board when I picked them. All I needed were some perimeter guys who can hit threes depending on how the “Run-and-Gun” offense was defended.

You can’t get more Nash/D’Antoni Suns than this team.”

Kevin Michael Morin – “No Left, No Right, No Ball Handlers”

Kevin’s TeamPos.Ht.Pts/GmRebs/GmAst/GmStls/GmBlks/GmFG%3P%FT%
Ray AllenSG6’5″
Derek FisherPG/SG6’1″
Jerome WilliamsPF/SF6’9″
Jamie FeickC/PF6’9″
Erick DampierC/PF6’11”

“I had the fourth pick, so I lost my chance at guys like AI and Kobe. But Ray was sitting there waiting for me. I decided to knock out the guard spots early before diving into the big men. I snagged some strong rebounders, and overall am pretty happy with who I walked away with. Erick Dampier averaged closer to being a double double (points/rebounds) threat than any one big man not named Marcus Camby.”

Craig Kaufman – “Wilhelm’s Bane”

Craig’s TeamPos.Ht.Pts/GmRebs/GmAst/GmStls/GmBlks/GmFG%3P%FT%
Stephon MarburyPG6’2″19.337.
Chucky AtkinsPG/SG5’11”
Shareef Abdur-RaheemC/PF/SF6’9″
Walter McCartyPF/SF6’10”
Samaki WalkerC/PF6’9″

“This was a real tough spot to be in. I agonized for days about whether I should take Ben Wallace at #5. While he was probably the best player left on the board, I couldn’t justify building my team around a player who only scored 5.7 points per game. I just didn’t think the rebounding and blocked shots would be enough of a boost to offset the scoring I would miss out on by not getting either Marbury or Peja Stojakovic.

Once I decided to move on from Wallace, I looked for scoring at almost every position. At #17, I decided to take Chucky Atkins instead of my next forward, since I knew that Andrew would have to go Guard-Guard. With my last pick of Samaki Walker, I added another swing man who could score.

I probably should have taken Jerome Williams at #20, as he was a better player than Walter, but I couldn’t resist the urge to take the beloved Celtic so that I could announce my pick with “I….Love….Walter!!!!””

Andrew Mark Wilhelm – “The Turn”

Andrew’s TeamPos.Ht.Pts/GmRebs/GmAst/GmStls/GmBlks/GmFG%3P%FT%
Tony DelkPG/SG6’1″
Moochie NorrisPG/SG6’1″
Peja StojakovicSF6’10”
Darvin HamSF/SG6’7″
Ben WallaceC/PF6’9″

“Drafting the 6th spot, and therefore on the turn, presented a special set of difficulties. The first 4 picks were very predictable, so what I did depended on who Craig took at 5. I knew I was going to end with some combination of Marbury, Wallace, and Stojakovic. In a perfect world I would’ve ended up with a big and a guard, but once Craig took Marbury, I didn’t feel comfortable reaching for Derek Fisher at 7. I also didn’t expect Craig to snipe Chucky Atkins and Samaki Walker from me in the later rounds.

Teams aren’t going to score against my team. The issue is, my team isn’t going to score much either. In a way, as a fan of the Pistons, I like that. But these 5 certainly won’t play pretty basketball.”

Who Do You Think Built the Best Team? Weigh in on our Fantasy Redraft with a comment below!

Craig has spent the last ten years as a sports information professional, working for several schools across New England at the Division 3 level. A native of Peabody, Mass., Craig is a life-long Boston sports fan. He is also an avid player of fantasy football and baseball, and commissioner of the AKA Family Fantasy Football League. Like most other Turf team members, Craig has a penchant for theater, spending his high school and college years as a set designer, sound designer and theater shop worker. He became a father shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, and as such, hasn't really left his home since last December.

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