When Boston Celtics Hall of Fame small forward Paul Pierce was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Kansas product made a point of thanking each and every team that passed on the Jayhawk standout who passed him over to take another prospect on draft night in 1998.
Explaining how he used the snub as motivation, Pierce said, “Coming out of college, I was a First Team All-American, a projected No. 2 pick,” continuing on by naming every franchise that doubted him. “Thank you for passing on me and adding fuel to my fire,” he explained. “I appreciate that.”
But who were those teams, and who did they go with instead? Let’s look back at the top nine picks of that draft, and whether there’s any that didn’t end up regretting their selection, in retrospect.
Clippers – Michael Olowokandi
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Given making NBA All-Rookie Second Team was the height of Olowokandi’s career, we’re pretty sure the Clips regret this decision quite a bit.
Grizzlies – Mike Bibby
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
An improvement career-wise over Olowokandi’s given Bibby made NBA All-Rookie First Team that same season, it wasn’t much of one seeing as that was also the career apex for the No. 2 pick of the draft by the Griz. Definite remorse here as well.
Nuggets – Raef LaFrentz
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Looking at his resume, you might see how Pierce’s teammate got taken first. But LaFrentz didn’t do much at all at the next level, so the regret here is especially painful given they got the school right — but the player wrong.
Raptors – Antawn Jamison
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
With two All-Star nods and a Sixth Man of the Year award on top of All-Rookie Second Team, this one stings the least so far, but it was still an error. Thankfully for them, they would ameliorate this mistake quickly (more on this shortly).
Warriors – Vince Carter
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
With eight All-Star nods, two All-NBA elections, Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie First Team honors just some of what Carter accomplished as a player, the Dubs would have done well — had they not traded him away for the player taken one pick earlier, plus cash. OUCH.
Bucks – Robert Traylor
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
This one probably hurts the most, because not only did they pass on Pierce, the Bucks drafted the only other comparable player to trade for Traylor, largely unremarkable in the NBA (more on that colossal mistake briefly).
Kings – Jason Williams
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Williams wasn’t a terrible pick seeing as he did win a title later in his career with the Miami Heat and made All-Rookie First Team, but the Kings absolutely regret passing on The Truth.
76ers – Larry Hughes
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
The Sixers could have done worse with Hughes making an All-Defensive First Team while leading the league in steals later on while with the Washington Wizards, but Hughes was by far a dud compared to Pierce.
Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Here — and only here — is a team that can look back at the draft and say they made a reasonable choice by not selecting Pierce. Dirk of course would also win one title where he would be named Finals MVP, but is in the lead by a fair bit in the accolades department with 14 All-Star bids and a dozen All-NBA team elections. That they fleeced the Bucks to do it makes it all the more impressive. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=57972,57966,57949,57932] [listicle id=57918]
Source: Yahoo Sports