/Why the 1996 Draft Class Was So Special

Why the 1996 Draft Class Was So Special

Imagine four draft picks with a combined 47 All-Star games, three league MVPs, and the best 3-point shooter of all-time. It’s almost hard to believe all that talent came in one draft class – 1996. That’s what makes it so special.

Ray Allen played in 10 All-Star games and, currently, is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made with (2,973). He’s likely to be passed by Golden State’s Steph Curry at some point, but for now he is the clear leader. Allen was the fifth pick in the ’96 draft after a stellar career at UConn. He also won two NBA titles – one with Boston in 2008 and another in 2013 with Miami.

Allen was outstanding, but he never won a league MVP. Allen Iverson, however, did in 2001. Iverson was the first overall pick in that famous draft and went on to play in 11 All-Star Games. He led the NBA in scoring four times (1999, 2001, 2002, and 2005). In 2001, Iverson averaged 31.4 points per game and league-best 2.8 steals per game leading Philadelphia to the NBA Finals and a league MVP. 

The best player in the ’96 draft was one Kobe Bryant. He was drafted out of high school and was not selected until pick No. 13. Bryant would go on to a storied 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won five NBA titles, was the league MVP in 2008 and won two NBA Finals MVPs (2009, 2010). Bryant played in 18 All-Star games and was a four-time ASG MVP.

The other league MVP in the bunch was Steve Nash, the 15th overall pick. Nash, who led the NBA in assists five times, won the MVP twice winning it back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. He was also a very good free throw shooter leading the league twice in free throw percentage. Nash played in eight All-Star games and has already been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 1996 NBA draft also included Marcus Camby, Stephon Marbury, Jermaine O’Neal, and Peja Stojackovic. Each made significant contributions and had outstanding NBA careers, but it was Allen, Iverson, Bryant, and Nash that made the 1996 NBA draft special.

Rick Bouch