The NBA Draft in the 1990s was a time of change. In the 80s, we saw people leaving college after their junior years. In the 1990s, players were starting to leave after their sophomore years. Then, in 1995, Kevin Garnett pushed the envelope into the first high school player in two decades to declare for the draft. Since that moment, the draft hasn't been the same.
But, we will always remember the #1 overall picks in the draft. We can run them off like we run off the list of champions. And what an odd mix it is.
#10-Michael Olowokandi [1998-Clippers]. He was a project when he was drafted...but it just didn’t pan out. As a Clipper, he was routinely outshined in LA by some other center that shares the same arena. He did develop into a 12 ppg scorer...but then left ClipperLand for Minnesota where he posted the worst numbers of his career. And that is saying something. Stats: 8.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg
#9-Joe Smith [1995-Warriors]. Not your average Joe has made his way around the NBA. Playing only three years in Golden State, he's been to Philly, Minnesota, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver, Philadelphia (again), Chicago, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Cleveland (again) and now Atlanta. Staying in the league this long says something about what he is worth. What makes this pick look worse is the fact that McDyess, Stackhouse, Sheed and Garnett were picked directly after him. He will probably be best known for having a "wink wink" agreement with Minnesota that he'd sign low short term and the team would hook him up long term. That action cost the Wolves 4 first round draft picks. He has the EXACT same birthday as me. Stats: 11.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
#8-Elton Brand [1999-Bulls]. It's tough to peg Brand. He's been an All-Star twice and an Olympian. He also had a controversial exit from the Clippers and hasn't been the stud the Sixers wanted him to be. Injuries have stalled his career in the past two seasons and his lone playoff appearance was in 2006. Stats: 19.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg
#7-Larry Johnson [1991-Hornets]. LJ brought excitement and attention to Charlotte. Once Grandmama put on the teal...the franchise went from expansion to legit. A back injury and a big contract forced him up to New York where he played on the 1999 Eastern Conference Championship team. His 4-pt play is legendary in playoff lore [mainly because he wasn’t touched]. Stats: 16.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg
#6-Glen Robinson [1994-Bucks]. He is the 2nd leading scorer in Milwaukee Bucks history. He went to the 2000 and 2001 All Star Games. One of the better scorers in the league...he averaged at least 20 pts in 8 of his first 9 seasons. Stats: 20.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 82% FT
#5-Derrick Coleman [1990-Nets] Drafted by the Nets, but starred for the Sixers and Hornets, Coleman is the classic example of potential never fully realized. Many people foresaw him as the forward that would change the game. We saw glimpses of it in Jersey and at times in his other stops...but he spent most of his career injured. He started only one All Star Game . Stats: 16.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg
#4-Chris Webber [1993-Magic/Warriors]. Originally drafted by Golden State, Webber was dealt to the Warriors for Penny Hardaway moments later. C-Webb’s career on the Bay was short, but he helped get the Washington Bullets to the playoffs and was the centerpiece in getting the Kings into the playoffs as well. He has a nice bounce back season with the Sixers in 05-06 but that was short lived. He led the NBA in rebounding in 1999. Stats: 20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.2 apg
#3-Allen Iverson [1996-Sixers]. Like him or hate him...he’s has been one of the NBA’s best players. A 6-foot tall wrecking ball...Iverson gave max effort every single game. He’s won the scoring title four times ...something only Wilt, Jordan and the Ice Man ever did. His scoring average is 5th all time. He has an MVP award... and single handidly took the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals. The second half of his career has been marred with questionable behavior. "Practice", crying his way out of Philly, stunting the growth in Denver, blowing up the Pistons and now sulking with the Grizzlies. Stats: 27.1 ppg, 6.2 apg, 2.2 spg
#2-Tim Duncan [1997-Spurs]. Three NBA titles and two MVP awards sit in his trophy case. The Admiral’s injury brought Duncan to San Antonio, but his leadership is what lifted the former ABA franchise to rings. He's been named to the first team All NBA team in each of his seasons. You could argue that he's the best power forward ever. Stats: 21.4 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.4 blks
#1-Shaquille O’Neal [1992-Magic]. The Most Dominant Ever has 4 NBA championships....3 NBA Finals MVP awards and 1 regular season MVP award. He lifted the Orlando Magic to elite status and brought back the Lakers franchise to the elite. Only player on this list named to the NBA's 50 Greatest Players squad. More than by any player on this list (by far), he has trancended the game. Stats: 24.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 58% FG, 53% FT