We continue our draft review with a look at the 1998 draft. There are 6 players in this class who made the All-Star team - Antawn Jamison (picked fourth), Vince Carter (fifth), Dirk Nowitzki (ninth), Paul Pierce (tenth), Rashard Lewis (32nd) and Brad Miller (undrafted.)
Michael Olowokandi was a total bust with the first pick. Mike Bibby was the second pick, and has had an excellent career (surprisingly he was never an All-Star.) Raef LaFrentz was a relative disappointment with the third pick, especially given the players that were drafted right after him.
There are plenty of other notable first rounders from 1998: Jason Williams (pick #7), Larry Hughes (#8), Bonzi Wells (#11), Matt Harpring (#15), Rasho Nesterovic (#17), Ricky Davis (#21), Al Harrington (#25), and Nazr Mohammed (#29) are all worth mentioning.
We can see that overall this first round was much better than the previous year, with a few huge stars, and a lot of other productive players. The mid-lottery (from #4 to #11) produced the best players.
Obviously Lewis is the second round steal of this draft, but there were other good players taken: Ruben Patterson (#31), Rafer Alston (#39) and Cuttino Mobley (#41) stand out.
What is exceptional about 1998 are all the superb players who went undrafted. Miller is one of the best undrafted players ever. Earl Boykins has had a fantastic career considering he wasn't selected in either round. Mike James, like Boykins, bounced around a lot - but he has had a fine NBA career and made himself a lot of money. And Anthony Carter is another point guard from the undrafted class of '98 that has had a long, long career. This seems like further proof we have to view late picks and undrafted prospects more seriously.
1998 also begins to further indicate the uncertainty of the draft order. We should be clearly understanding that some the best players in a draft are not necessarily taken in the first part of the lottery.
Here is the approximate order of the top ten players from the 1998 draft, with their actual selection number in parenthesis:
1. Dirk Nowitzki (9)
2. Paul Pierce (10)
3. Vince Carter (5)
4. Rashard Lewis (32)
5. Brad Miller (undrafted)
6. Antawn Jamison (4)
7. Mike Bibby (2)
8. Cuttino Mobley (41)
9. Al Harrington (25)
10. Raef LaFrentz (3)