Memphis Grizzlies and the 1996 Nba draft

Memphis Grizzlies and the 1996 Nba draft events in history

Grizzlies 1996 NBA draft.
The NBA draft which dates all the way back to 1947 is an annual event in which teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft (a process used in allocating players to a team) eligible players and players who wish to join the league. Typically, they are college basketball players, but international players are also eligible to be drafted. College players who have finished their four0year college automatically become eligible, while the underclass men have to declare their
eligibility and give up their remaining college eligibility.

Players who are not automatically eligible but have declared their eligibility are often called early-entrants or early-entry candidates. The draft usually takes place during the NBA offseason which is near the end of June. From 1989, the draft consisted of two rounds; which is shorter than the entry drafts of other major professional sports leagues in the US or Canada.
Some of the notable draft years in NBA history are 1984, 1996 and 2003. Each one of those is often referred to as one of the best drafts in NBA history, with 2003 at the top of the list for the past 20 years with superstars such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh headlined. The 2000 NBA draft is sadly, considered the worst draft in years. Sports Illustrated in one of their reports referred to the first “a group of horrible player”.

The 1996 NBA draft was the 50th draft in the NBA. It was held at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on June 26, 1996. During this draft, NBA teams took turns selecting college basketball players and other first-time eligible players.
Memphis Grizzlies (known as Vancouver Grizzlies) had the highest probability to win the NBA draft lottery, but they were not allowed to select first in this draft because they were an expansion team. Philadelphia 76ers, being the second team with the highest probability won the lottery to obtain the first selection.
The 76ers selected Allen Iverson, a sophomore from Georgetown. The Toronto Raptors came                                                                  second in the lottery and selected Marcus Camby. Memphis Grizzlies came third and selected Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Roy Rogers (who was later traded after one season for Tony Massenburg, a second round draft pick) and Chris Robinson were selected as the 23rd and 51st pick in the draft by the Grizzlies.
The 1996-97 season was only the Grizzlies’ second season in the NBA. After they made few signings in the first season and during the off season, the Grizzlies struggled in the league as they lost their first seven games. Stu Jackson replaced Brian Winters after an 8-35 start, but the Grizzlies still suffered another 15-game losing streak between February and March, finishing last place in the Midwest Division with their worst league record 14-68

The Memphis Grizzlies and the 1996 Nba draft

Abdur made an immediate impact on joining the Grizzlies, leading the team as their highest scorer with 18.7 ppg, an average of 6.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He finished third in balloting for the Schick NBA Rookie of the Year Award behind Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury. He also made the All-Rookie First Team in his first season and by the end of the 1996-97 season, led the Grizzlies scoring on 33 occasions and rebounding on 23 occasions. The following season, his performance was elevated with 23.0 points, 7.5 rebound and 3.4 assists per game. His efforts however were not enough to help the Grizzlies out of Midwest division’s bottom two in the first four seasons.

Abdur’s impotance to the Grizzlies was highlighted on December 1, 2000 in a game against the Indiana Pacers. Abdur in the final quarters of that game earned the Grizzlies all of the 20 points they scored. Indiana Pacers won the game 86-76. He finished the 2000-01 season with a 20.5-point average and was ranked in the top 20 in13 NBA statistical categories.
On June 27, 2001, Abdur was acquired by the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Brevin, Lorenzen Wright and third overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft, Pau Gasol.

Even though the 1996 draft is considered one of the best in NBA history, it is still surrounded with “What Ifs”, especially for the Grizzlies.
What if the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, had been awarded the No. 1 pick? The Grizzlies did finish the 1995-96 season with a league worst record 15-67.
What if they had gotten Allen Iverson? Would he have done enough to help the Grizzlies move from the divisions bottom two spot?
What if the Grizzlies had gotten another player in place of Roy Roger who had a one season stint with the Grizzlies?
The question still hangs till date. What if the Grizzlies made these selections, would it have helped their campaign? Would it have keep them in British Columbia?
Who Knows….

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