Re-Drafting Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and the 1998 NBA Draft

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2020

Re-Drafting Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and the 1998 NBA Draft

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    The 1998 NBA draft was weird.

    Yes, it yielded three inevitable Hall of Famers. But just one of them was selected in the top eight, and two were immediately traded by the teams that selected them. We're talking about eventual superstars getting slept on and falling through the cracks, in more ways than one.

    This draft included a severe drop-off in player quality after the cream of the crop. Our re-do will reflect that. There isn't much of a middle class outside the lottery—just a long list of players who, even when they carved out lengthy careers, peaked as modestly used and slightly impactful reserves.

    All the usual re-draft rules apply. We'll try to identify the best player available with each pick. Accounting for specific team needs and roster makeups more than 20 years later gets thorny, and trumpeting fit over talent never guarantees anything.

    Players will be chosen based on their entire career performance. Wondering what might have been in certain instances is fair game, but we're only rewriting the selections and nothing else.

    Longevity, sustainable peaks and contributions to winning situations are our currency. We're also assuming that each player will stick with whichever squad takes him, even if said picks were traded later during draft night or thereafter.

    To the time machine!

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Dirk Nowitzki

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    Easy decisions are the best.

    Dirk Nowitzki should be the unchallenged No. 1 pick in all 1998 re-drafts. Vince Carter and Paul Pierce were megastars, but neither came close to touching Dirk's sustained peak.

    Let's not mince too many words on the heart of his resume. His legacy is a matter of fact. He helped redefine what 7-footers could be on offense. He is sixth on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He is a league MVP, Finals MVP and champion. He made 12 All-NBA teams, including four first-team honors.

    He is one of 10 players to post a 50/40/90 shooting slash for an entire season—and just one of four to do so while averaging more than 20 points per game. If the NBA ever changed its logo, a silhouette of his one-legged fadeaway would have to be in the running as a replacement option.

    Somehow, what's most impressive about Nowitzki's career isn't any of this. His mid- and later-career adaptations stand out as much as anything else, if not more. He seamlessly went from manufacturing so many of his own looks to playing off others without conceding stardom—to then remaining an offensive force as a complementary piece when his twilight came calling.

    Just look at the progression on the percentage of his made field goals that went unassisted from 2004-05, his inaugural All-NBA first-team selection, through the end of his career:

    Stars cannot always make this type of transition, even at the end of their career—let alone near the middle of it. Nowitzki's play style allowed the Dallas Mavericks to maximize his early and mid-30s and, later, made it so they could begin to usher in a new era without his standing in their way.

    Actual Pick: Michael Olowokandi

    Nowitzki's Actual Draft Slot: Ninth, Milwaukee Bucks (traded to Dallas)

2. Vancouver Grizzlies: Paul Pierce

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    Paul Pierce's resume has plenty of firepower. He is an NBA champion, Finals MVP and four-time All-NBA member.

    And yet, his peak still feels underrated.

    Why? I'm not quite sure. Perhaps it's because he never made first-team All-NBA or finished higher than seventh in MVP voting. Or maybe he's just universally hated by a bunch of fanbases after hitting so many big shots and, along with the rest of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, getting entirely too much anecdotal mileage out of a single title.

    Whatever the reason, prime Pierce turned in one of the best seven-year offensive stretches ever. From 2000-01 to 2006-07, he averaged 24.8 points and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 35.8 percent from three and 41.2 percent on super-long twos.

    He is one of just nine players to clear 25 points, three assists and one made three per game in at least four seasons, joining LeBron James (14), Kobe Bryant (10), Allen Iverson (nine), James Harden (eight), Kevin Durant (seven), Damian Lillard (five), Michael Jordan (four) and Tracy McGrady (four).

    Like Nowitzki, Pierce deserves credit for shape-shifting later in his career. He adjusted his volume while still in his prime after the acquisitions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and the development Rajon Rondo. Then he went on to leave his mark in more measured doses—and to varying success—with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers.

    Actual Pick: Mike Bibby

    Pierce's Actual Draft Slot: 10th, Boston Celtics

3. Denver Nuggets: Vince Carter

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    Vince Carter's prime was both too short and longer than it sometimes seems.

    Peak Carter went bananas from 1999-00 through 2006-07, all while battling knee issues. He averaged 24.6 points and 4.2 assists per game, hit 37.9 percent of his threes and reached the foul line at a nice clip. He then pieced together another two star-level seasons with the New Jersey Nets before transitioning into more of a sidekick's role amid more injury issues.

    Similar to Pierce's, Carter's apex is probably underappreciated. Again: It might've been too short. Or his limited availability from 2001 to 2003 hurt his momentum. Whatever. It still feels criminal that he has just two All-NBA selections. He was always more than the pogo-stick brand he became; his repertoire included off-balance jumpers, pull-up threes and secondary passing.

    Does Carter elevate himself over Pierce if he's gifted a cleaner health bill? Debatable. His megastar stuff would've lasted longer, but Pierce has a championship, and even the best version of Carter never finished higher than 10th on the MVP ballot.

    Somewhat ironically, Carter's legacy receives the same boost as those of Pierce and Nowitzki: He found a way to gracefully transition out of stardom. He was more Dirk than The Truth in this regard, mostly because he had no choice.

    Injuries and different roster constructions, not to mention entirely different rosters, left Carter to play a more specific role. He responded by entrenching himself as a dangerous set shooter and, most impressively, improving his defense on the wings and against bigger forwards.

    Actual Pick: Raef LaFrentz

    Carter's Actual Draft Slot: Fifth, Golden State Warriors (traded to Toronto)

4. Toronto Raptors: Rashard Lewis

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    Get ready to split hairs. The next few in this re-draft verge on interchangeable. Arguments can be made for three to four players in the No. 4 slot.

    Rashard Lewis gets the nod for having the most distinguished peak. He immediately started to decline after signing a six-year, $118 million deal with the Orlando Magic in 2007—right knee problems didn't help his case—but he was legitimate second-option-on-a-great-team material at the height of his powers.

    Even when he was on the downslope, Lewis added functional value as a floor-spacer at the 4, where he started spending more of his minutes upon arriving in Orlando. He could drop 20-plus almost entirely within the flow of the offense. 

    Granted, Lewis' mid-to-late-career utility was a stark departure from his prime. He could score at all three levels in his heyday. His three-point shot was a staple, but he could blast defenses in transition, get by his man in the half court, escape-dribble into jumpers and cook smaller opponents with fadeaways in the post.

    Almost no one matched his consistent offensive dynamism for a decade. From 2000-01 to 2009-10, he averaged 18.0 points and 2.0 assists per game while converting 39.4 percent of his threes. Allen is the only player who maintained those benchmarks over a comparable number of appearances.

    Lewis was even better during his absolute peak, which ran from 2002-03 through 2008-09. His averages were about the same—19.1 points, 2.1 assists per game, 39.0 percent three-point shooting—but he ranked 20th in value over replacement player (VORP), sandwiched between Allen Iverson (19th) and Elton Brand (21st).

    Actual Pick: Antawn Jamison (traded to Golden State)

    Lewis' Actual Draft Slot: 32nd, Seattle SuperSonics

5. Golden State Warriors: Brad Miller

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    Cracking the redraft at all is a monstrous win for Brad Miller, who went unpicked in 1998 after spending four years at Purdue. But his is not a just-happy-to-be-here story. He made two All-Star appearances, played a major role on some very good Sacramento Kings squads, made the postseason with four different teams and carved out a 14-year career.

    Miller was a novelty at the center spot during his salad days. He could spar on the glass and bust up would-be posters around the rim, but on offense, he was 6'11", 240-plus-pounds of finesse.

    Few players his size ran the floor in transition as well, and his finishing around the rim, while never elite, had a guard's quality to it. He favored layups over powerful slams and could thwart defenders with reverses. His three-point volume didn't take off until later in his career, but he was a floor-spacer by his era's standards. Almost 30 percent of his field-goal attempts came between 16 feet and the arc, on which he shot a blistering 45.2 percent.

    Part of Miller's prime could've been muted by the number of times he changed teams. Sacramento was his fourth stop by year six, and he played for six squads in total. But he lasted five full seasons on the Kings and pieced together one heck of an eight-year stretch despite changing locations three times within that period.

    From 2001-02 through 2008-09, Miller averaged 13.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while draining more than 50 percent of his twos—respectable efficiency given how many of his scoring opportunities came away from the basket. These numbers don't smack you in the face, but they're splits that just four other players matched during this time: Tim Duncan, Garnett, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.

    Actual Pick: Vince Carter (traded to Toronto)

    Miller's Actual Draft Slot: Undrafted

6. Dallas Mavericks: Antawn Jamison

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    Antawn Jamison is 46th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Think about that. Really think about it. 

    Jamison is a top-50 scorer in NBA history. 

    Like, what?

    It doesn't matter if you watched him play, if you knew this already (you might have!) or if it's new information. It is surreal to think about in any case. Jamison is a two-time All-Star and one-time Sixth Man of the Year, but that's not the kind of resume associated with his career-long scoring feat. 

    Longevity is Jamison's bread and butter. He scored at a high level while enjoying relatively good health for 13 consecutive years. He logged five full 82-game seasons from 2000-01 to 2011-12 and had another three campaigns in which he missed no fewer than three contests. 

    Through this 13-year window, Jamison averaged 20 points per game, 47.6 percent shooting inside the arc and a manageable 34.7 percent clip from downtown. And he was not the beneficiary of cookie-cutter buckets. He hit plenty of assisted jumpers and ducked past set defenses for cuts, but he also trafficked in jab steps, sweeping floaters, some post moves and contested finishes around the rim.

    Straight scoring can be overvalued, and Jamison didn't level-up offenses as a secondary distributor. But he was a strong rebounder for a combo 3-4, and more than that, it's tough to overvalue the scoring of someone who did it so well for so damn long.

    Actual Pick: Robert Traylor (traded to Milwaukee)

    Jamison's Actual Draft Slot: Fourth, Toronto Raptors (traded to Golden State)

7. Sacramento Kings: Mike Bibby

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    Mike Bibby's time with the Sacramento Kings, who acquired him from the Vancouver Grizzlies ahead of his fourth season, isn't appreciated nearly enough. He helped pilot the best teams in franchise history on the back of unreal chemistry with Chris Webber and a level of offensive plug-and-playness that maximized his on-court fit with not just C-Webb, but also Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic and Miller.

    Looking at Bibby's peak in Sacramento is almost revelatory—for non-Kings fans, of course. From 2002-03 to 2006-07, he averaged 18.6 points and 5.5 assists per game while downing 37.7 percent of his triples. Jamal Mashburn is the only player to match his benchmarks during this time, and he played two seasons within that span.

    And just to reiterate: Bibby could shoot. Like, really shoot. Only five players nailed more threes than him through this half-decade window: Stojakovic, Ray Allen, Gilbert Arenas, Chauncey Billups and Jason Terry. Everyone should remember the nine triples he drilled against the Phoenix Suns in March 2007.

    Calls to push Bibby higher up the re-draft ladder will not be unfounded. His career apex didn't last as long as anyone in front of him, but he impacted winning at the highest level. A re-draft that takes him ahead of Jamison or Miller is far from bad faith.

    Actual Pick: Jason Williams

    Bibby's Actual Draft Slot: Second, Vancouver Grizzlies

8. Philadelphia 76ers: Cuttino Mobley

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    Cuttino Mobley's career feels unfinished. He played in the NBA for 10-plus seasons but was forced to retire after a physical to finalize a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers to the New York Knicks revealed he suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that makes it difficult to pump blood.

    Up to that point, Mobley established himself as a quintessential complement. He could knock down quick shots off the catch but was also a from-scratch outlet. He had no issue putting the ball on the floor and leveraged a post game about which most 6'4" guards could only dream. His defense was unspectacular in the macro, but he matched up well with bigger wings and forwards later in his career.

    Most will gravitate toward the 21.7 points per game he averaged with the Houston Rockets in 2001-02. It leaps off the page relative to the rest of his career, and while that team was 28-win bad, he still canned 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts. 

    More impressive, though, is the steadiness of Mobley's offensive production. He averaged fewer than 13 points per game just once after his rookie year. Remove his inaugural campaign and 11-game sample with the Clippers in 2008-09 from the equation, and he put up 15.8 points and 2.6 assists per game on 38 percent shooting from deep across nine full seasons.

    The list of players to match those benchmarks in as many games during that time isn't long. It includes Nowitzki, Terry and...nobody else.

    Actual Pick: Larry Hughes

    Mobley's Actual Draft Slot: 41st, Houston Rockets

9. Milwaukee Bucks: Al Harrington

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    Al Harrington's legacy is getting buckets.

    He got them coming off the bench for some very good Indiana Pacers squads. He got them for two afterthought versions of the Atlanta Hawks. He got them for the "We Believe" Golden State Warriors, both as a starter and reserve.

    He got them as one of the primary options on two bad New York Knicks teams. And he got them, in more measured doses, as a veteran presence for two seasons on a Denver Nuggets roster that successfully navigated major transition.

    That he never coheadlined a quasi-contender works against Harrington's re-draft stock. His best basketball came for win-loss footnotes, and even his contributions to better squads—Indiana, Golden State, Denver—included substandard defense and lackluster rebounding.

    Still, his offensive peak remains memorable. He was a mismatch-maker at the 4, putting the ball on the floor and jacking treys before it was commonplace. From 2003-04 to 2011-12, he averaged 18.1 points and 2.2 assists per 36 minutes while splashing in 35.7 percent of his threes. Just three players matched these splits over that same span in as many games: Carter, Joe Johnson and Nowitzki.

    Actual Pick: Dirk Nowitzki (traded to Dallas)

    Harrington's Actual Draft Slot: 25th, Indiana Pacers

10. Boston Celtics: Larry Hughes

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    Larry Hughes' career resume is an anecdotal acid trip.

    On the one hand, he could score and defend, a highly commodified combination. He averaged 15 or more points five times and has as many career 40-point games as Dwight Howard (four), and in 2004-05, he both led the league in steals and made the All-Defensive first team.

    On the other hand, he never seemed to be more than a questionable fit in the context of his squads. He was too ball-dominant to be a third wheel or play alongside a totalitarian No. 1 (see: Iverson, Allen) but wasn't nearly talented enough to bear a first option's burden on his own. His from-scratch creation was at once an asset and a problem. Premiums are placed on players who can generate their own looks, but Hughes' shot selection could make you queasy.

    Would he have benefited from coming along a few years later? From spending more time beside pass-first alphas? From being forced to take more set jumpers? 

    If nothing else, better health would've given Hughes' career a bump. He started missing chunks of the season beginning in 2003-04 and never had both the availability and role to replicate his 2004-05 campaign, during which he averaged 22.0 points, 4.7 assists and 2.9 steals per game on 46.5 percent shooting inside the arc.

    Actual Pick: Paul Pierce

    Hughes' Actual Draft Slot: Eighth, Philadelphia 76ers

Late Lottery

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    11. Detroit Pistons: Jason Williams

    Jason Williams was entertaining as hell to watch. He threw passes in an NBA game the most irreverent daredevils wouldn't try on the playground. Color me surprised that his career turnover rate isn't higher.

    He also had this way of making you believe he could shoot, even though he was more erratic than reliable. He turned in some so-so seasons efficiency-wise here and there, but he wrapped his career converting 32.7 percent of his treys. (He did shoot 40.2 percent on super-long twos.)

    Could Williams' playmaking be the engine of an entire offense? Absolutely not. But he wasn't all flash. He ran point for some quality Sacramento Kings squads before they flipped him for Bibby, and the Memphis Grizzlies were, for the most part, much better on offense with him in the lineup.


    12. Orlando Magic: Raef LaFrentz

    Way before the league became obsessed with floor-spacing shot-blockers, there was Raef LaFrentz. He is still the only player to record 200 swats and 100 made threes in the same season.

    LaFrentz was not an artificial floor-spacer, either. His teams didn't just have him bombing threes in the name of innovation. He shot 36.3 percent from distance for his career and sat at 37.0 percent through his first eight seasons, before injuries derailed his two-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers.

    And hey: Blocks and threes weren't all LaFrentz could do. He occasionally pushed the ball after getting a defensive rebound and had a nice touch around the bucket.


    13. Orlando Magic: Rafer Alston

    Rafer Alston doesn't receive enough credit for his body of work in the NBA. Maybe he's too synonymous with the AND1 Mixtape Tour. Or perhaps people only remember his first four years, in which he struggled to remain a consistent part of rotations with Milwaukee and Toronto.

    But Alston put together a solid stretch of basketball for more than a half-decade while making stops in Miami, Toronto once more and Houston. From 2003-04 through 2008-09, he averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 35.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc, primarily as a starter. The level of shot-making and passing he showed was nothing if not proof he belonged in the NBA—and was worth taking waaay before 39th overall.


    14. Houston Rockets: Ricky Davis

    Ricky Davis might be most remembered for you-know-what, but his truncated peak is well worth a significant bump from his initial No. 21 spot. He might have even reached his pinnacle sooner if not for circumstances beyond his control. His intensity and above-the-rim exploits earned attention, as well as a 2000 Slam Dunk Contest invite, during his early years with the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.

    Limited opportunity coupled with injuries prevented Davis from taking on a more prominent role before he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001. And after a season coming off the bench with them, he exploded for 20.6 points per game in 2002-03.

    Though he developed a reputation as a stat-padder on not-great teams—he played for six during a 12-year career—he added real value as a shot creator in the half court. From 2002-03 to 2006-07, he averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists per game while burying 35.6 percent of his three-point attempts, numbers matched by only three players who appeared in a comparable amount of games: Arenas, Carter and Bibby.

Nos. 15-20

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    15. Orlando Magic: Bonzi Wells

    Bonzi Wells might've enjoyed an earlier peak if he saw the floor sooner. It took him two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers to get consistent run, and he needed another year before he was afforded more than conditional agency on offense.

    Regardless, Wells could score. His per-minute splits rarely swung one way or the other after his rookie season, an encouraging sign for someone who built toward a larger role. He averaged 17.0 points and 3.0 assists per 36 minutes from his sophomore year through the end of his career, a statistical resume founded upon largely unchecked confidence. He launched threes even when they weren't falling, went at the rim and developed a nice post game for someone standing 6'5".

    And while he wasn't always hot, it seemed like he was always on a heat check. When he was hot, it became an event. His 45-point eruption against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2003 postseason was, at the time, a Blazers franchise record.


    16. Houston Rockets: Mike James

    Mike James might be the most random player in NBA history to average 20 points for an entire season. He completed the feat while manning the 1 for the 27-win Toronto Raptors in 2005-06, which, yeah. But the numbers weren't entirely empty calories—at least not the ugly kind. He put down 44.2 percent of his threes—nearly 40 percent of which were unassisted—and hit more than 48 percent of his two-point attempts.

    Fun, cherry-picked fact: James is one of just three players to average more than 20 points, five assists and two made threes per game while also shooting better than 44 percent from beyond the arc. The other two? Dana Barros and Stephen Curry.

    This one season alone is enough to give James near-lottery consideration. But he did more, much more, oh-so-much-more—mainly lasting over a decade as a playable game manager and offensive spark plug despite going undrafted out of Duquesne University.


    17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ruben Patterson

    Ruben Patterson was definitely not the "Kobe Stopper," but he did grind on defense. He's one of just six players under 6'6" to finish with a career steal percentage of at least 2.5 and block rate higher than 1.0 (minimum 500 games). His company includes Tony Allen, Eric Bledsoe, Nate McMillan, Paul Pressey and Jerry West.

    Never much of a shooter, Patterson kept himself from becoming a liability on the more glamorous end by parlaying turnovers into transition opportunities, hitting the offensive glass, making off-ball beelines to the basket and just generally finishing well around the rim. And make of this what you will, but he has one of the 10 highest VORPs among players taken in the 1998 draft.


    18. Houston Rockets: Nazr Mohammed

    Holy longevity.

    Nazr Mohammed never put up nightly notables, but he still spent 18 seasons in the NBA—the fourth-longest of anyone from this draft class, trailing only the megastar future Hall of Famers Carter, Nowitzki and Pierce.

    Fitting Mohammed into the rotation was easy. He needed zero maintenance on the offense. He was content to feast on putbacks and then work his butt off on the other end. And this is super niche but also pretty cool: Andre Drummond and Dan Gadzuric are the only two players to match Mohammed's defensive rebounding, offensive rebounding, steal and block rates across 500 or more games.


    19. Milwaukee Bucks: Matt Harpring

    Matt Harpring's scoring onslaughts at Georgia Tech never fully translated to the NBA, but he still packed a gnarly offensive punch in his prime. 

    Even after he started dealing with ankle injuries, he could get around defenders in space and finish at the hoop. His three-point and long-two splits are all over the place, but he had the green light and hot streaks of a knockdown shooter. He was also a sneaky offensive rebounder for his size (6'7", 231 lbs).

    Signing with the Utah Jazz in 2002 amounted to a career boon. He fit well within their offense, particularly during his first year, which also happened to be John Stockton's final season. Harpring averaging 17.6 points while swishing 41.3 percent of his threes and 52.9 percent of his twos—all of which were, basically, career highs. (He shot 2-of-2 from deep as a sophomore.)


    20. Atlanta Hawks: Tyronn Lue

    Tyronn Lue gets a slight bump from his initial slot (No. 23) for lasting 11 seasons in the NBA despite playing for seven teams.

    The 2001 playoffs wound up being a small springboard for his career. He played a fair amount of minutes off the bench in the Finals for the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers, who used him at times to pressure Iverson.

    Lue earned more prominent roles in Washington, Atlanta and Orlando, but only for rosters that finished miles below .500. He might've fared better in today's league, which is more accustomed to using point guards who aren't born floor generals. And Lue, to his credit, did enjoy a nice four-year stint, from 2003-04 to 2006-07, during which he averaged 11.0 points and 3.9 assists per game while connecting on 38.2 percent of his treys.

Nos. 21-30

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    21. Charlotte Hornets: Radoslav Nesterovic

    Radoslav Nesterovic isn't quite worth his original No. 17 slot in a re-draft, but he's not far off. He carved out a 12-year NBA career, thanks in large part to the flashes he showed during his fourth and fifth seasons.

    From 2001-02 to 2002-03, he averaged 12.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes while showing functional range outside the paint. That stretch earned him a six-year, $42 million contract in 2003 from the San Antonio Spurs, who viewed him as a David Robinson replacement capable of sheltering Tim Duncan from too many center minutes.

    They were so hot for Nesterovic, in fact, that head coach Gregg Popovich went to visit him even while the team was immersed in an all-out recruitment of Jason Kidd. That investment didn't quite pan out in the Spurs' favor. Nesterovic was out of the starting lineup midway through his third season in San Antonio and traded before the start of 2006-07.


    22. Los Angeles Clippers: Earl Boykins

    This represents quite the jump for Earl Boykins, who went undrafted in 1998 despite averaging 25.7 points and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 40.7 percent from deep during his senior season at Eastern Michigan. His size no doubt worked against him. Standing at 5'5", he is still the second-shortest player in league history, ahead of only the 5'3" Muggsy Bogues.

    It took a while for Boykins to work his way up into a regular rotation spot. His big break came with the Golden State Warriors in 2002-03, five years and five teams after entering the NBA. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 assists in over 19 minutes per game while downing 37.7 percent of his threes.

    The Denver Nuggets rewarded him with a five-year, $13.7 million deal in free agency that summer. The three-and-a-half years Boykin spent with them were the most productive of his career; he averaged 17.3 points and 5.8 assists per 36 minutes as an offensive flamethrower off the bench.

    All told, Boykins eked out a 13-year career on the merit of his relentless offense. He was never afraid to let it fly from distance and had a certain slipperiness off the dribble that put those much, much bigger than him on tilt.


    23. Denver Nuggets: Pat Garrity

    Pat Garrity was moved several times before he ever actually put on an NBA uniform. Selected at No. 19 by the Milwaukee Bucks, he was promptly shipped, along with Nowitzki, to the Dallas Mavericks, who then turned around and sent him to the Phoenix Suns as part of the package for Steve Nash. (Aside: It turns out that series of wheeling and dealing worked out quite well for Dallas.)

    A right knee injury in 2003-04 derailed what should have been Garrity's prime. He was never the same player after returning, and he retired following the 2007-08 campaign. But he enjoyed a nice stretch with the Orlando magic from 1999-00 to 2002-03, during which he shot 41.3 percent from distance and ranked 10th in total made three-pointers.


    24. San Antonio Spurs: Michael Doleac

    Michael Doleac, initially taken at No. 12, garnered draft interest for his combination of size and shooting touch. At 6'11", he had a big body teams could plant in the paint on defense, and he hinted at novel range for someone his size by going 21-of-50 (42 percent) from beyond the arc in his final two seasons at Utah.

    Though Doleac never took his game behind the three-point line in the NBA—he finished 1-of-8 from deep for his career—he leveraged a pretty consistent touch just inside the arc. Over 46 percent of his career looks came between 16 feet and the three-point line, where he shot an impressive 44.6 percent.


    25. Indiana Pacers: Brian Skinner

    Brian Skinner drops only a few spots from his initial No. 22 position, in no small part because he made NBA appearances across 14 seasons. His offense never hit the standard he set at Baylor. He could put the ball on the floor, and he could hoist the occasional long two, but his efficiency—including at the foul line—didn't warrant an expanded role or usage.

    Without question, his best year came in 2003-04, when he was on the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in what was his only stint as an every-game starter.


    26. Los Angeles Lakers: Greg Buckner

    Props to Greg Buckner for improving his draft position by 27 slots. He deserves it. The Mavericks selected him at No. 53 in 1998, and he went on to enjoy a 10-year career.

    Never anything close to a star, Buckner built up his staying power by working his tail off defensively, hitting the glass hard for a guard and displaying sound offensive decision-making. He ate up neither shots nor possession time and kept the ball moving without throwing careless passes.

    From Buckner's first season (1999-00) to his last (2008-09), only five players matched his defensive rebound, assist and steal rates while appearing in as many games: Kobe Bryant, Kidd, Andrei Kirilenko, Wells and Metta World Peace.


    27. Seattle SuperSonics: Keon Clark

    Keon Clark split his career among four teams. His best season, by far, came with the Toronto Raptors in 2001-02. They afforded him carte blanch to plumb his floor game when facing the basket and capitalized on his ability to run, and he responded with the glitziest line of his career: 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game on almost 50 percent shooting inside the arc.

    Things still never came together for Clark on offense. He finished with power above the rim and was quick on his feet for a big man, even with the ball in his hands, but he didn't have the playmaking chops, possession control or mid-range consistency to be a more prominent option.

    Positive aside, though: Clark owns the Raptors' franchise record for blocks in a game. He racked up 12 swats against the Atlanta Hawks in 2001.


    28. Chicago Bulls: Michael Dickerson

    Injuries torpedoed Michael Dickerson's career. Initially selected at No. 14, he retired in 2003, with just five seasons under his belt, after battling groin and abdominal issues. 

    Before the injuries, though, Dickerson looked the part of a lottery pick. Put simply: The man could score. He had the speed to get by set defenses and the gall to finish through them. His career 40.2 percent clip on threes is an accurate reflection of how well he could work the outside.

    Some will be inclined to leave Dickerson out of the first round. Longevity is his enemy. He lasted just three full seasons. But his super-abridged peak is worth the investment at No. 28. After getting traded from the Houston Rockets to Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999, he averaged 17.4 points and 2.9 assists per game while banging in 39.3 percent of his threes over the next two seasons—numbers matched only by Allen and Carter during that time.


    29. Utah Jazz: Shammond Williams

    Shammond Williams never had the influence over an NBA offense that he did toward the back end of his time at UNC. His seven seasons in the Association included stints with seven teams, the most successful one coming during a three-year stretch on the Seattle SuperSonics as a fairly regular part of their bench rotation.

    None of his individual campaigns jump off the page. He never averaged more than eight points per game. In another universe, though, he might've been a more prolific scorer. He converted 36.6 percent of his three-point attempts for his career, had a nice hesitation burst off the dribble and averaged 16.1 points per 36 minutes in the time he spent overseas.


    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.comBasketball Reference or Cleaning the Glass. Salary and cap-hold information via Basketball InsidersEarly Bird Rights and Spotrac.

    Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @danfavale.