Re-Drafting Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and the 1999 NBA Draft

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 26, 2020

Re-Drafting Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and the 1999 NBA Draft

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    The 1999 NBA draft was long on talent, boasting nine All-Stars, five All-NBA players, a Defensive Player of the Year and three guys who collected a Sixth Man of the Year trophy.

    And yet, three of the top four picks are often thought of as role players.

    This, then, might be best considered the draft of unsung heroes—talents who weren't top scoring options but who contributed to winning basketball with versatility, defense, guile and efficient play. Don't worry, though; there are loads of conventional bucket-getters and highlight-generators here, and we're going to see some seriously productive players picked near the end of the lottery.

    This is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

    We'll determine the new draft order by weighing statistical production, impact on team success and any intangibles that add extra juice to a player's career. It'll be necessary to balance longevity against peak seasons, and we'll generally err on the side of prizing short, spectacular primes over longer, less remarkable careers.

    Note that this isn't an alternate reality. Injuries that threw a player's career off course are assumed to exist here too. And finally, we don't care about team need or roster fit. This order will focus on the best player available at every spot.

    In a perfect microcosm of a draft filled with underrated players, a defense-focused third scoring option is about to come off the board first.

1. Chicago Bulls: Shawn Marion

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    Shawn Marion's four All-Star trips are the most in this class, but that's just the start of his unassailable case to go No. 1. He's also tops in win shares, made field goals, rebounds and steals while ranking in the top three in player efficiency rating, value over replacement player, games played, points and blocks.

    A rangy 6'7" with telescoping arms, unfathomably quick bounce and shocking speed in the open floor, Marion could smother guards and bang with bigs, using his quick-strike hand speed to deflect passes and turn away shots at the rim. Steve Nash was the engine of the "Seven Seconds or Less" Phoenix Suns, but Marion might be best described as the oil; everything would have seized up without him.

    He averaged at least 17.0 points and 9.0 rebounds every year from 2000-01 to 2006-07, led the NBA in total steals twice and is one of only two players in this class with career block and steal rates above 2.0 percent. Among the most underappreciated stars of the last several decades, Marion deserved more than the two All-NBA nods he earned. It's stunning he never made an All-Defensive team.

    A reliable source of highlights whose physics-defying leaping ability earned him the moniker of "The Matrix," Marion also managed to become a respectable three-point threat (career 33.1 percent) despite quirky hot-potato shooting form.

    Finally, we have to discuss Marion's unique portability. Teams that pick at the top of drafts tend to fixate on a player's ability to be the center of an offense; they want guys around whom they can build. Marion, though, owned the distinction of fitting in as a star in any situation. He never needed the ball and could dominate games with defense, rebounding and athleticism—taking nothing away from teammates and enhancing the worth of everyone around him.

    It's truly rare to find a player with that gift who was also as statistically productive as Marion was. But that's why he deserves serious Hall of Fame consideration, and it's why he comes off the board first in our re-draft.

           

    Actual Pick: Elton Brand

    Marion's Actual Draft Slot: 9th, Phoenix Suns

2. Vancouver Grizzlies: Manu Ginobili

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    Patience is a must for the team that takes Manu Ginobili, as the No. 57 pick in the actual 1999 draft wouldn't make his NBA debut until the 2002-03 season.

    He was worth the wait.

    The four-time champ, two-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA team member and 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year leads all 1999 selections in true shooting percentage, box plus/minus and VORP (tied with Marion). He's also in the top six in career points, steals and assists while ranking second to Jason Terry in made threes and Elton Brand in PER.

    Nobody picked in 1999 had more than Manu's six 40-point games.

    Anyone looking for a reason to slide Ginobili further down the draft board could point to his relatively meager 25.4 minutes per game. But the fact that he managed to rate so highly in so many counting stat categories while playing so much less than other top candidates only reinforces his exceptional value. Barring injury, Ginobili was on the court for every minute that truly mattered for the dynastic San Antonio Spurs.

    Which is exactly the right way to utilize the guy in this class who, on a per-possession basis, had the greatest impact on winning.

    That he also willingly assumed a bench role for much of his career speaks to his embrace of the team concept and lack of ego—two musts for any player interested in succeeding at the highest level.

    Ginobili played with an infectious competitive fervor, imbuing every possession with a sort of poetic recklessness. Few players have ever blended chaos and skilled refinement like the 6'6" guard. And, for my money, none matched Ginobili's cleverness or daring. With him, no pass was too bold. No foray into the lane too obstructed.

    Aesthetics, winning, production and incomparable style meet in Ginobili—producing a player as effective as he was joyous to watch.

           

    Actual Pick: Steve Francis (traded to Houston Rockets)

    Ginobili's Actual Draft Slot: 57th, San Antonio Spurs

3. Charlotte Hornets: Elton Brand

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    Elton Brand averaged over 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in each of his first two seasons, a remarkable achievement matched by just 16 other players in NBA history—14 of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

    The 14.8 win shares Brand amassed in 2005-06 represent the highest single-season total produced by anyone in this class, and his 20.5 career PER is also unsurpassed by any 1999 selection. In light of all that, it's clear the Chicago Bulls didn't make a mistake selecting Brand first in the real draft. That remains a defensible move.

    The torn Achilles he suffered in his age-28 season is the only reason he slips to third in our do-over.

    That injury effectively ended Brand's days as a high-end starter, robbing him of the quick second jump that made him an elite offensive rebounder and supremely efficient finisher inside. Already a somewhat undersized power forward at 6'8", Brand couldn't afford to lose the quickness that injury cost him.

    Still, his full resume, propped up by a tremendous first eight seasons, is too robust to let him slip lower than No. 3.

    He (deservingly) won Rookie of the Year, played in two All-Star games, landed on the All-NBA second team in 2005-06 and finished seventh in MVP voting that same year. With 17 years in the league, the majority of which came after the type of injury that sometimes ends careers entirely, Brand ranks third in points, second in rebounds and a surprising 10th in assists among 1999 selections.

    Another one or two injury-free seasons and Brand could have easily retained the No. 1 spot he earned in real life.

           

    Actual Pick: Baron Davis

    Brand's Actual Draft Slot: 1st, Chicago Bulls

4. Los Angeles Clippers: Andrei Kirilenko

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    Andrei Kirilenko's best years came and went even more quickly than Brand's, but it's too tough to pass on a guy who, from the moment he debuted in 2001-02, was on the short list of the league's very best defensive players.

    The word "angular" is never far from Kirilenko's name in most look-back descriptions, and the hawk-like qualities that defined the Russian import's features (and, sometimes, hair) square with the predatory nature of his play. Over his first five seasons, Kirilenko was the only player in the league (among those who logged at least 100 total games) to post a block rate above 6.0 percent and a steal rate above 2.0 percent.

    When he was on the floor, dribbling, passing and shooting became high-risk activities for every offensive foe.

    Second in box plus/minus, third in VORP and seventh in win shares among players picked in 1999, AK-47 picked up three All-Defensive team honors, trailing only Metta World Peace's four. It's telling, though, that Kirilenko's nods all came consecutively in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He seemed to lose a step in his age-25 season, but that's a relative assessment.

    He still blocked 2.1 shots per game in 2006-07 and would post five of his seven career seasons with an effective field-goal percentage above 50.0 percent after exiting his defensive prime that year.

    It's hard to find elite rim-protectors at 6'9"—especially ones who can defend the perimeter as a small forward, average double-digit points in 10 different seasons and even facilitate from the wing. Lamar Odom is the only 1999 pick 6'9" or taller with a higher career assist percentage than Kirilenko.

           

    Actual Pick: Lamar Odom

    Kirilenko's Actual Draft Slot: 24th, Utah Jazz

5. Toronto Raptors: Baron Davis

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    An unrefined but unfathomably athletic point guard you'd never believe tore his ACL as a UCLA freshman during the NCAA tournament, a young Baron Davis made two All-Star teams in his first five NBA seasons.

    A slick handle, supreme confidence, a veteran's physical strength and a penchant for high-rising dunks over larger players (especially off a two-foot plant that rocketed Davis skyward) made him one of the most entertaining point guards in the league during those years. But as he aged and added heft, he supplemented his game with overpowering physicality.

    During his best years with the Golden State Warriors, Davis could force his way anywhere on the floor, back down wings and go through defenders he used to go around. Also an early adopter of the pull-up three, Davis wasn't particularly accurate from deep (career 32.0 percent), but he let fire often enough to drag defenders out beyond the arc—where he could shoulder past them and hit a longer runway to the cup. His 1,332 made treys are third-most in the class.

    Davis led the NBA in steals per game twice and averaged at least 18.0 points and 7.0 assists in five different seasons. Steve Francis, with one, is the only other 1999 pick to join that club.

    Though a bad back and sore knees plagued him for much of his Golden State tenure, Davis was the best player on the 2007 "We Believe" team that upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round. His wicked, cocked-back tomahawk on Kirilenko in the conference semifinals remains the iconic image from one of the most beloved Warriors seasons of all time.

    Injuries reduced Davis to a shell of himself over the final third of his 13-year career, but he still finishes second in assists, third in points per game, fourth in BPM and seventh in VORP among 1999 selections.

            

    Actual Pick: Jonathan Bender (traded to Indiana Pacers)

    Davis' Actual Draft Slot: 3rd, Charlotte Hornets

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lamar Odom

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    Lamar Odom's uncommon versatility was on display immediately, as the 6'10" lefty forward became one of four players in history to average at least 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.0 steal over his first two seasons.

    Impressive as those early years were, Odom's mid-career turn with the Los Angeles Lakers unlocked even more of his value. As his usage dropped alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, Odom improved his scoring efficiency and better leveraged his length and smarts on the defensive end. Six of his eight highest single-season box plus/minus figures came during his highly successful stint with the Lakers, a stretch that produced two championships while also earning Odom the 2010-11 Sixth Man of the Year Award.

    Odom is the only 1999 pick to surpass 12,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists for his career, and only two others—Marion and Brand—even managed to get to 10,000, 7,000 and 2,000, respectively. If that doesn't illustrate the lanky forward's breadth of talent, I don't know what does.

    It was a brutally tough call to order Kirilenko, Davis and Odom. In the end, Odom winds up behind those two, falling short of both in box plus/minus and VORP while narrowly edging them out in win shares. Davis and Kirilenko consistently took control of games, while Odom was more of a support piece for other great players.

    Imagining him in that role on a Wolves team with Kevin Garnett is about as thrilling as this re-draft gets.

           

    Actual Pick: Wally Szczerbiak

    Odom's Actual Draft Slot: 4th, Los Angeles Clippers

7. Washington Wizards: Metta Sandiford-Artest

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    The top one-on-one defender in the class, Metta Sandiford-Artest (drafted as Ron Artest and known as Metta World Peace from 2011 until 2020) never got enough credit for his two-way contributions.

    Yes, he leads all 1999 picks in career steal rate and has more All-Defensive nods (four) than anyone else in the class. But the 2003-04 DPOY also ranks in the top 10 in total points and assists. He averaged double-digit points in each of his first 11 seasons and had at least eight assists in a game 13 different times. Not bad for a supposed defensive specialist.

    He was special on D, though; there's no arguing that.

    His raw physical strength made him unscreenable on the perimeter, and any offensive player foolish enough to try to back him down found himself jostling with a granite block anchored to the floor. There was never any moving him when he didn't want to be moved. He, and he alone, decided which space he'd occupy on the floor, and nobody had the heft to dislodge him.

    Perhaps more important than anything else in his competitive arsenal, he had a knack for playing right up to and beyond the precipice of physical violence—all while displaying an incongruously placid demeanor. He could elbow you in the head without blinking or ask sincerely, following a league-altering melee, whether he would "get in trouble."

    Sometimes, the scariest opponents are the ones who seem least tethered to the rules. To say he played with a frightening edge is to grossly understate it. Few wings were ever more intimidating.

           

    Actual Pick: Richard Hamilton

    Sandiford-Artest's Actual Draft Slot: 16th, Chicago Bulls

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Richard Hamilton

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    The 1999 class doesn't have a steadier scorer than Richard Hamilton, the only player with 10 seasons of at least 17.0 points per game.

    A reliably excellent mid-range shooter whose constant off-ball movement exhausted defenders, Hamilton also ranked above the 90th percentile in assist rate among wings in eight of his final 10 seasons (Cleaning the Glass only goes back to 2003-04).

    Hamilton never graded out as a top-flight defender, but he functioned just fine in a team concept when flanked by quality teammates. The Detroit Pistons happened to have several of those, led by Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, during their dominant early-aughts stretch. Hamilton was a full-time starter and top scoring option on a team that reached the conference finals an incredible six straight times from 2003 to 2008, making the All-Star team three years in a row to close that run.

    The only thing missing from Hamilton's game was a consistent three-point shot. If he could have sustained whatever formula he found in 2005-06, when he led the league at 45.8 percent from deep, he might have cracked the top five of our re-draft.

           

    Actual Pick: Andre Miller

    Hamilton's Actual Draft Slot: 7th, Washington Wizards

9. Phoenix Suns: Andre Miller

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    Andre Miller crushes the rest of the 1999 class with 8,524 career assists, 2,499 more than Davis' second-place total.

    A throwback floor general who entered the league at age 23 with a fully formed "old man game" and a cerebral approach that belied his years, The Professor led the NBA with 10.9 assists per game in his third season and, thanks to a mostly ground-bound approach, virtually never got hurt. He logged at least 80 games in 14 of his 17 seasons and played all 66 contests during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.

    As is common with plodding point guards, Miller was a handful in the post, where he leveraged his strength to get deep position and either pick out spot-up shooters or baffle his defender with a quick spin or deft step-around.

    Nothing better exemplified his guile than the fake timeout, which Miller used to greater effect than any other player in memory. And no one will ever be able to explain where he found the springs to uncork roughly one ridiculous dunk every half-decade or so.

    Miller's 1,304 games rank second in the class, and his 100.8 career win shares rank fifth. Solid, sneaky but rarely spectacular (except for his out-of-nowhere 52-point game in 2010, the highest total produced by any 1999 pick), the journeyman point guard saw action with nine different teams and was a regular starter all the way up through his age-34 season.

                

    Actual Pick: Shawn Marion

    Miller's Actual Draft Slot: 8th, Cleveland Cavaliers

10. Atlanta Hawks: Steve Francis

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    Everyone knew at the time that Steve Francis was never going to play for the Vancouver Grizzlies, who took him with the No. 2 overall pick anyway. Things went well for him with the Houston Rockets, with whom he landed following an inevitable trade, but maybe Stevie Franchise's career would have turned out even better if it hadn't started with such awkwardness.

    One of the most athletic players to ever step on a basketball court, the 6'3" point guard paired rafter-scraping lift with wicked lateral quickness. His performance in the legendary 2000 dunk contest is too often overlooked, and watching him cross over Troy Hudson three times on one play will never get old.

    A true stat-stuffer, Francis logged seven triple-doubles in his career (fourth-most in the class) and posted six seasons with at least 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Lamar Odom had one such season, making him the only other '99 pick to join Francis in that exclusive club.

    Suspect defense and lack of longevity conspire to knock Francis down the draft order. His peak would have easily warranted top-five status if it had been a bit longer, but he was finished as a true difference-maker after his sixth season.

    There are two players still on the board with more career win shares than his 54.1, and he only ranks 17th in total games played. An electrifying talent who sprinted to a fantastic start, Francis just didn't sustain that pace long enough to earn a higher slot.

              

    Actual Pick: Jason Terry

    Francis' Actual Draft Slot: 2nd, Vancouver Grizzlies

Late Lottery

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    11. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jason Terry

    The best high-volume three-point shooter (career 38.0 percent) and highest scorer in the 1999 class, Jason Terry was a starter throughout his 20s before transitioning to a reserve role that would extend his career until age 40. He earned a Sixth Man of the Year trophy for his work with the 2008-09 Dallas Mavericks, when he scored 19.6 points per game. He'd later help that Mavs team to a ring in 2011.

    Though never a star and prone to hurting his teams on defense, Terry was an efficient scorer miscast as a primary option in his Atlanta years before settling into an ideal bench role for the latter half of his career. He may seem undervalued here, but Hamilton mattered more on consistent winners, Miller made his teammates better and Francis had the higher peak.

           

    12. Toronto Raptors: Corey Maggette

    Corey Maggette was a subpar three-point shooter who registered nearly 200 more career turnovers than assists, but he had a legitimate superpower in his game that made him a highly effective offensive weapon in spite of his flaws.

    The chiseled 6'6" forward was a foul-drawing savant.

    Maggette led the NBA in total free throws made during the 2003-04 season and destroys the 1999 class with a career average of 12.4 free-throw attempts per 100 possessions. Nobody else who played significant minutes is even above 9.0. That's how a guy who shot a pedestrian 45.3 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from distance ends up second only to Ginobii among 1999 selections in true shooting percentage.

    A habitual ball-stopper whose first, second and third thoughts upon receiving a pass were "score", Maggette averaged over 20.0 points per game three times. If he'd played any defense at all (or figured out how to pass), we'd be talking about Maggette as a top-10 pick.

              

    13. Seattle Sonics: Wally Szczerbiak

    The depth of this draft is really starting to show now, as Wally Szczerbiak and his career averages of 14.1 points and 40.6 percent three-point shooting only warrant the No. 13 spot.

    Though he was an ace shooter from just about everywhere, the 6'7" forward made zero defensive impact, registering abysmal block and steal rates throughout his career. That said, he registered above-average PERs in each of his first seven seasons and made the 2001-02 All-Star team in a loaded Western Conference.

    That's some serious value near the end of the lottery.

            

    14. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Posey

    A three-and-D wing before the term was popular, James Posey took at least half of his shots from beyond the arc in each of his last seven seasons while routinely checking the opponent's most dangerous scorer. He has the most win shares (51.6, which ranks 14th overall) among 1999 picks who averaged under 10.0 points per game.

    Distilled, that means he did his damage quietly, in ways that were much harder to appreciate prior to the spike in attention paid to advanced stats and on-off splits. It's not a coincidence that the 2006 Miami Heat and 2008 Boston Celtics, both champions, leaned heavily on the rugged 6'8" wing.

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    15. New York Knicks: Jeff Foster

    Jeff Foster lasted 13 years in the NBA—all with the Indiana Pacers—because he did one thing, and he did it well: crash the offensive boards.

    The 6'11" center led the league in offensive rebound rate twice (2006-07 and 2007-08), and his career figure in that category, 15.2 percent, is easily the best in the '99 class among players who logged at least 10 total games. In fact, that rate was the highest in the entire NBA (among players with at least 400 games in that span) over the 13 seasons Foster played from 1999-00 to 2011-12.

    He did little else, but Foster was better than everyone at securing extra possessions when his team missed a shot.

           

    16. Chicago Bulls: Chris Andersen

    Though he didn't debut until 2001 and lost nearly two full seasons to a substance-abuse suspension, Chris Anderson still produced 39.7 win shares in his career, a figure that ranks 16th among players eligible to be drafted in 1999.

    Birdman, you'll recall, wasn't picked at all in this year's draft. So this is quite the come-up for him.

    A high-energy big who grabbed 10.2 rebounds and blocked 2.9 shots per 36 minutes for his career, Andersen stood out as much for his relentless style as his colorful ink. 

            

    17. Atlanta Hawks: Raja Bell

    Undrafted in 1999, Raja Bell had a seven-season peak in the middle of his career in which he was one of the most useful three-and-D wings in the NBA. The quietly intense 6'5" wing was always willing to square off against high-scoring opponents and occasionally crossed the line between competitive and dirty. 

    Bell also shot over 40.0 percent from distance for his career and played a vital starting role for the late-aughts Phoenix Suns, producing positive on-court net ratings in each of his four seasons there. He checks in at 32.7 career win shares, coincidentally slotting right behind Andersen among draft-eligible players in 1999.

           

    18. Denver Nuggets: Kenny Thomas

    Kenny Thomas' best year came in 2003-04 with the Philadelphia 76ers when he produced the only season of his career with a double-double average. His 13.6 points per game fell just short of the 14.1 he averaged with the 2001-02 Houston Rockets, but the 10.1 rebounds were easily a career high.

    He sits at eighth in total rebounds in the class, having grabbed 4,341 in his 11-year career.

    Though at 6'7", he gave up size to most power forwards, Thomas compensated by pulling larger opponents away from the bucket.  His shot profile would be disfavored today, but Thomas was accurate on long twos, hitting 39.9 percent of them for his career. Back before opponents realized they should concede those shots, they offered helpful floor-spacing.

           

    19. Utah Jazz: Devean George

    Best remembered as a sidekick whose rookie season coincided with the first of three straight Los Angeles Lakers championships, Devean George was a rangy, active defender who produced high block and steal rates for a wing. Though an extremely low-usage player who posted true shooting percentages below the league average in all but one of his 11 seasons, George's size and defensive impact made him a useful role player.

    20. Atlanta Hawks: Scott Padgett

    Scott Padgett only lasted eight seasons after going 28th in the real 1999 draft, but he manages to move up eight spots here on the strength of his impressive work as a frontcourt spacer. At 6'9", the power forward shot 37.3 percent from long range for his career. That's the second-best hit rate of anyone that height or taller in the 1999 draft, right behind Wang Zhizhi and his 38.5 percent mark on only 182 attempts.

21-29

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    21. Golden State Warriors: Jumaine Jones

    Primarily a small forward who could slide to the 4 or even the 2 in a pinch, Jumaine Jones was a capable three-point shooter (34.9 percent) who rebounded his position(s) extremely well. Among players picked in 1999 listed at 6'8" or shorter, only Brand, Marion and Thomas top Jones in rebound rate.

    Jones also posted 11 games with at least five made threes and cracked the 20-point mark 20 times in his career. Not bad at 21st overall.

           

    22. Houston Rockets: Pablo Prigioni

    Though he debuted as a 35-year-old rookie in 2012-13, this is still technically Pablo Prigioni's draft class. We're looking past the fact that he only played four total seasons, focusing instead on the savvy point guard's excellent shooting and facilitation. His 24.4 percent assist rate ranks sixth in the class.

    Prigioni hit 37.9 percent of his shots from deep, contributed positive defensive box plus/minus figures every year of his career and scored with an above-average true shooting percentage in three of his four seasons. If anything, most Knicks fans who saw Prigioni play a significant role for two-plus seasons would say he should have shot more.

            

    23. Los Angeles Lakers: Gordan Giricek

    Aggressive and in possession of a pure shooting stroke, Gordan Giricek bounced between five teams during his six-year career but scored everywhere he landed. He averaged 15.0 points per 36 minutes and exceeded 20 points 24 times.

    We're now at the point at which draft picks rarely have any league awards worth mentioning, which makes Giricek's 2002-03 All-Rookie honor significant.

           

    24. Utah Jazz: Eddie Robinson

    Eddie Robinson was a throwback small forward with no three-point range but a surplus of bounce. He's one of a handful of players to pull off a self-alley-oop in an actual game, though you have to squint through the blurry lens of standard definition to appreciate it.

    His reputation as a malcontent with a dubious work ethic resulted in a mere five-year career, but the athleticism and 50.7 percent shooting from the field (because: dunks) are enough to snag a spot in the top 25.

           

    25. Miami Heat: Todd MacCulloch

    Foot issues forced Todd MacCulloch into retirement at age 27, but he was a serviceable starting center for his final two years in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The 7'0" Canadian peaked in his age-26 season with the Nets, averaging 9.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 53.1 percent from the field. 

    Despite such a brief career, MacCulloch sits 20th in win shares and 19th in VORP among 1999 selections.

           

    26. Indiana Pacers: Calvin Booth

    A 6.0 percent block rate kept Calvin Booth in the league for 10 years, though injury and a spot way down most depth charts limited him to just 366 games in that decade-long span.

    Booth, a 6'11" center whose most productive stretch came with the Sonics from 2001-02 to 2003-04, blocked 10 shots in a game on Jan. 13, 2004. Kirilenko is the only other player in the class with a double-digit swat night, but it should be noted Booth racked up his 10 rejections in only 17 minutes of playing time.

    He also dunked really hard on Mike Dunleavy Jr. once.

           

    27. Atlanta Hawks: Lee Nailon

    In the two years he was a regular starter, Lee Nailon averaged double-figure scoring, putting up 10.8 points per game for the 2001-02 Charlotte Hornets and a career-high 14.2 for the 2004-05 team that relocated to New Orleans.

    Lacking three-point range, the combo forward utilized his 6'9", 238-pound frame to score efficiently inside while also hitting a respectable 39.2 percent of his long twos. A good cutter with just enough handle to create his own looks in the mid-range area, Nailon found plenty of ways to score without stepping behind the arc.

           

    28. Utah Jazz: Francisco Elson

    Primarily a rebounder and position defender, the 7'0" Francisco Elson totaled 472 games spread across six teams in nine seasons. Though selected 41st by the Nuggets in '99, Elson played four years internationally before debuting in 2003-04. He never averaged more than 5.0 points or 21.9 minutes per game, but his 13.3 percent rebound rate ranks seventh among 1999 draftees who played at least 400 career games.

    29. San Antonio Spurs: Jonathan Bender

    The bust label was never fair because injuries, not a lack of talent, submarined Jonathan Bender's career. Taken fifth overall by the Raptors and dealt to the Pacers for Antonio Davis, the 6'11" high-schooler with wing skills never stayed healthy enough to establish a real rhythm, logging just 21 games in his age-23 season, seven in his age-24 season and two in his age-25 season.

    Knee troubles cost him three entire years from 2006-07 to 2008-09, and after a 25-game cameo with the Knicks in 2009-10, Bender's career was over.

    The idealized version of Bender was a shooting guard with a center's height, and he showed ever so brief flashes of that potential during his first four seasons, drilling 36.0 percent of his threes in 2001-02, his healthiest campaign.

    Lest this feel like an undeserved position for Bender, note his 3.8 career win shares rank 28th. Even with so little time spent at full health, he's got a statistical case to be here.

           

    Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and Cleaning the Glass unless otherwise noted.