A look back at all 12 players picked ahead of Kobe in the 1996 draft
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
Each team in the 1996 draft would probably take Kobe Bryant if they had the chance to do it over again, but the Sixers got a future Hall of Famer and NBA star in their own right by selecting Iverson. He averaged 27.6 points and 6.1 assists per game in Philadelphia, winning the 1996-97 NBA Rookie of the Year award and leading the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001. Iverson was selected for the All-Star Game in 11 consecutive seasons, from 1999-00 until his final season in the league in 2009-10.
Getty ImagesJed Jacobsohn
Marcus Camby, Toronto Raptors
Coming off of a strong college career at UMass, Camby was largely regarded as a sure thing at the next level. And when he was healthy, Camby was very, very good. But he never really filled up the box score in the way most NBA fans expect from a second overall pick, and his strength as one of the league's best defensive players was often overlooked as a result. Camby never made an All-Star Game and retired after the 2012-13 season with career averages of 9.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Vancouver Grizzlies
While Michael Jordan ruled the NBA in 1996, teams were still looking for game-changing big men in the vein of David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing. It's an important thing to remember when looking at this draft. Abdur-Rahim was an All-Star in 2001-02, and like Camby, he was a versatile offensive player. Abdur-Rahim was more of a scorer and less of a defender, however. He made the playoffs only once, in 2005-06 with the Sacramento Kings, during an eight-year NBA career.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAndy Hayt
Stephon Marbury, Milwaukee Bucks (traded to Minnesota Timberwolves)
In Marbury's first couple years in the league, it seemed as if he and Kevin Garnett had formed a duo that would compete for championships for years to come. Instead, ego tore the Wolves apart, as Marbury reportedly couldn't abide being paid less than Garnett. Marbury was subsequently traded to the then-New Jersey Nets, where he made his first All-Star Game in 2001. He would be named an All-Star again in 2003. Marbury fought depression and left the NBA in 2009, but he's become a basketball legend in China.
Ray Allen, Minnesota Timberwolves (traded to Milwaukee Bucks)
The same draft that brought one of basketball's greatest scorers into the NBA also featured one of its best shooters. But the younger members of our audience might not remember that Allen was himself quite the scorer in his early years. He made three All-Star teams with the Milwaukee Bucks as a No. 1 offensive option, helping Milwaukee to the Eastern Conference finals against Allen Iverson's Sixers in 2001. Allen is a career 40.1 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and he'll always be known for his accuracy from deep. Let's not forget that he averaged 26.4 points per game for the Sonics the season before he became part of Boston's Big Three, however.
Getty ImagesMike Ehrmann
Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics
Walker was an All-Star by his second season in the league, when he averaged 22.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He continued to put up numbers throughout his tenure with the Celtics, forming a formidable scoring tandem with a young Paul Pierce. Prior to the 2003-04 season, Walker was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, and things started to fall apart for the three-time All-Star. His scoring averages dropped every season for the rest of his career, and he retired after the 2007-08 season. Walker averaged 17.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for his career.
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
Lorenzen Wright, Los Angeles Clippers
After starting the majority of his games as a rookie with the Clippers, Wright refined his game into a fine backup big man over the course of a 13-year NBA career. He averaged 12.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001-02, and his strongest stint came with his hometown Grizzlies from that season until the 2005-06 campaign. Tragically, Wright was found shot dead in July 2010. His death is being investigated as a murder.
Kerry Kittles, New Jersey Nets
Like Iverson, Kittles would cross paths with Bryant in the NBA Finals. Unlike Iverson, Kittles' Nets were swept by the Lakers in 2002. The former Villanova standout averaged 14.1 points and 2.6 assists per game for his career, but he was plagued by an injury to his right knee prior to the 2000-01 season that required surgery. He retired after the 2004-05 season and had a brief career as an investment baker on Wall Street.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJesse D. Garrabrant
Samaki Walker, Dallas Mavericks
Walker was the shortest of the four players taken directly ahead of Bryant, another indication of just how much the NBA loved (and loves) big men. Walker had an unremarkable NBA career, playing 17.1 minutes per game in 445 games with 143 starts. He bounced around with the Mavs, Spurs, Lakers, Heat Wizards and Pacers, averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Walker was back in the news in 2011, but not for good reasons.
Erick Dampier, Indiana Pacers
Dampier is the living embodiment of how a center can turn size into a lengthy NBA career. He played for 16 seasons with varying levels of participation. Some seasons, he started all 82 games. Others, he came off the bench for closer to half of the games. Either way, Dampier was always in the right place at the right time, and he was a good teammate who understood his role. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame was being traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Chris Mullin.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBrian Babineau
Todd Fuller, Golden State Warriors
The NBA is a passion for its diehard fans. But for some players, it's simply a job. That seemed to be the case for Todd Fuller, who averaged just 11.1 minutes per game in his five-year career. Fuller went on to play in Australia as well, but he's now reportedly a school teacher. And that adds up, as Fuller turned down a Rhodes scholarship to play basketball in college. He's one smart cookie who managed to make a decent amount of money in the NBA, too.
Getty ImagesQuinn Rooney
Vitaly Potapenko, Cleveland Cavaliers
Potapenko had an unremarkable NBA career as a reserve big man, averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers, Celtics, Sonics and Kings. After he retired in 2007, he stayed in basketball, becoming a developmental coach for the Cavs. But no matter what Potapenko does in the sport, he'll always be known as the player drafted one spot ahead of Kobe Bryant.