The Bulls were in total rebuilding mode by the time of the 1999 NBA Draft rolled around. After losing Mike, Scottie, Dennis and Phil off of the ’98 championship squad, Chicago had gone 13-37 in the lockout-shortened ’99 season and the Lottery balls bounced in their favor by way of the #1 overall pick. In what was seen at the time as something of a weak draft, the Bulls took Duke sophomore Elton Brand. Although Brand was a beast in college, he wasn’t seen as a superstar prospect as he entered the pros. He was undersized for a power forward, not to mention there was still a stigma of Duke players failing to realize their potential in the League. And while Brand did end up being a 20-10 producer for Chicago, they eventually traded him for a more enticing prospect in Tyson Chandler a couple of years later — a move they definitely regret now. So given a do-over and knowing then what they know now about the Class of ’99, who would the Bulls choose?
Then you’ve got the Grizzlies. Having gone 8-42 during that ’99 season, they also needed a shot in the arm. Maryland guard Steve Francis was the most exciting player in college basketball that year, and would have filled a need in the backcourt next to Mike Bibby, but Francis made it clear he had no interest in playing for Vancouver. The team took Francis anyway and ended up regretting it; eventually having their hand forced into a multiple-team trade that landed them Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Antoine Carr, Brent Price and a couple of draft picks. Given a second chance of their own, who would Vancouver draft?
Here’s my 1999 Lottery do-over:
1. Chicago — Elton Brand, PF, Duke
2. Vancouver (Grizzlies) — Shawn Marion, SF, UNLV
3. Charlotte (Hornets) — Baron Davis, PG, UCLA
4. L.A. Clippers — Rip Hamilton, SG, UConn
5. Toronto — Lamar Odom, SF/PF, Rhode Island
6. Minnesota — Manu Ginobili, SG, Argentina
7. Washington — Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, Russia
8. Cleveland — Steve Francis, SG/PG, Maryland
9. Phoenix — Ron Artest, SF, St. John’s
10. Atlanta — Andre Miller, PG, Utah
11. Cleveland — Jeff Foster, C, Texas State
12. Toronto — Jason Terry, PG, Arizona
13. Seattle — Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Duke
OTHER NOTABLES: Chris “Birdman” Andersen, William Avery, Raja Bell, Jonathan Bender, Calvin Booth, Francisco Elson, Devean George, Gordan Giricek, Jumaine Jones, Trajan Langdon, James Posey, Michael Ruffin, Wally Szczerbiak, Kenny Thomas, Fred Weis, Wang Zhi Zhi.