Where Are They Now: 1997 NBA Draft

Last night was the NBA Lottery, which got me thinking about NBA Drafts. I decided to do a Where Are They Now? for the 1997 NBA Draft, seeing as we’ve had a good amount of time to evaluate what they did in the NBA itself. Some of this may be wrong. I did my best to find out the most current information on all these players, but if I’m wrong on anything, tell me in the comments and I’ll update it.

1. San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan, PF, Wake Forest
If you’re on r/nba, you’re probably already aware that Duncan went on to have an inner circle Hall of Fame career, winning five championships with the Spurs. Since quietly retiring after the 2016 season, Duncan has had his number 21 jersey retired and served as a consultant and informal consultant for Gregg Popovich’s Spurs.

2. New Jersey Nets – Keith Van Horn, PF, Utah
One of many Great White Hopes, Van Horn had an above average NBA career even if he never lived up to the expectations of a second overall pick. Van Horn made the All-Rookie team, had a 21.8 PPG season, and averaged 16.0 PPG over nine seasons. Van Horn retired at age 30 and now is a successful investor, with ventures including a real estate investment firm, a school for special needs and a mobile app company. He also runs a youth basketball academy.

3. Boston Celtics – Chauncey Billups, PG, Colorado
Chauncey had a rough start to his career, playing for two teams in his rookie year alone, then spending four mostly forgettable seasons in Denver and Minnesota. He finally was given a chance to shine in Detroit, and shine he did, winning Finals MVP and becoming one of the best players of the 2000s. Billups retired in 2014, had his number 1 jersey retired by the Pistons and now works as a studio analyst with ESPN.

4. Vancouver Grizzlies – Antonio Daniels, PG, Bowling Green
Daniels never lived up to his draft position, but did carve out a 13 year journeyman career, winning a title with Tim Duncan and the Spurs in 1999. Daniels spent a year in the D-League before closing out his career with 4 games in 2010-11 with the 76ers. Starting in 2015, Daniels became an analyst for Fox Sports Oklahoma covering the Thunder.

5. Denver Nuggets – Tony Battie, C, Texas Tech
Although he never became a star, Battie played 837 games, starting 429, averaging 6.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG. Battie was one of the few players involved in a Lakers/Celtics traded, when LA traded him for Travis Knight. A technical player, Battie retired in 2012, and is currently working as an analyst for the Orlando Magic.

6. Boston Celtics – Ron Mercer, F, Kentucky
An All-American and National Champion, Mercer was expected to be a star in the NBA. Although that never materialized, Mercer was a good scorer at the beginning of his career. Mercer was waived by the Nets in 2005 and has mostly kept quiet since. He was arrested in 2008 for misdemeanor assault following an incident at a strip club in Tennessee. He now runs a youth basketball academy and can be hired as a speaker for events.

7. New Jersey Nets – Tim Thomas, SF, Villanova
At 6’11” with a career 36.9% from 3, Thomas may have been better fit for today’s NBA than the era he ultimately played in. Thomas’ height came with the Milwaukee Bucks, when he, Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell teamed up to take the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. After being released by the Mavericks in 2010, Thomas’ most recent news came in 2016 when he publicly challenged Kenyon Martin to a fight.

8. Golden State Warriors – Adonal Foyle, C, Colgate
Adonal Foyle showcased ability as an adept shot blocker throughout his career, and was signed to a $42 million contract, but it’s hard to argue he was worth a top 10 pick. A graduate of an Ivy League school, Foyle has been very active politically, founding Democracy Matters, and serving as an athlete/ambassador to other countries. In 2015, he released a book advising professional athletes on how to avoid poor financial decisions.

9. Toronto Raptors – Tracy McGrady, G/F, Mt. Zion HS
The first player from the 97 Draft to be elected to the Hall of Fame, McGrady is one of the greatest scorers in the history of basketball. Although he (and NBA fans) were robbed of some of his prime due to injuries, McGrady was a 2x scoring champion. McGrady retired in 2013 after several years of serving as scorer for hire. In 2014, he spent time in independent baseball with the Sugar Land Skeeters, throwing a strikeout in the All-Star Game. He currently is an analyst with ESPN.

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Danny Fortson, F, Cincinnati
Fortson carved out a 10 year career in large part due to his ability to crash the boards and play tough defense. He became a controversial figure due to what some deemed dirty play, and consistently was among league leaders in personal fouls and technical fouls. He last played in 2007 for the Sonics, and was elected to the University of Cincinnati Hall of Fame in 2015.

11. Sacramento Kings – Tariq Abdul-Wahad, SF, San Jose St
Anyone who played a sim league in the 2000s probably remembers Abdul-Wahad fondly. A good defender, Abdul-Wahad’s offensive game never caught up, and injuries plagued him throughout his career, only playing in 236 of a possible 788 games. Abdul-Wahad coached Lincoln HS in San Jose from 2012 to 2016, compiling a 35-55 record.

12. Indiana Pacers – Austin Croshere, PF, Providence
Croshere was a backup on some quality early-2000s Pacers squads, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.3 RPG for Indiana in 9 seasons and 540 games. Croshere left the Pacers in 2006 and bounced around for several more teams, finally playing for the Spurs on a 10-day contract in 2009. Currently, he serves as an analyst on FS1.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers – Derek Anderson, SG, Kentucky
On a personal note, Derek Anderson was one of my favorite players in NBA Live in the late 90s and early 2000s. Anderson was a 3-point sniper that bounced around for a bit early, before settling with the very competitive Jail Blazers squads. He won a championship with the Heat in 2006, and retired in 2008 after spending two years with the Bobcats. Since then, he has written several books, and also works as a screenwriter and producer.

14. Los Angeles Clippers – Maurice Taylor, PF, Michigan
Taylor was at the center of the scandal that led to national champion coach Steve Fisher leaving Michigan. He was a revelation for the Clippers early, and hoped to join Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady in Orlando, but never received an offer. After joining Houston, the rest of his career consisted of mediocrity, averaging 9.1 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 355 games. Today, Taylor is involved with private equity and supports the Michigan basketball team.

15. Dallas Mavericks – Kelvin Cato, C, Iowa State
Cato was immediately traded to the Trail Blazers, but is best known for his time with the Houston Rockets. After the team acquired Yao Ming, Cato became expendable, despite his shot blocking ability. He played just three more seasons after 2004. Cato has a diversified portfolio, as he owns an agricultural recycling center and a record label.

16. Cleveland Cavaliers – Brevin Knight, PG, Stanford
Knight managed a 12 year career, best known as a journeyman in the 2000s that was a reliable backup and a spot starter. Although his best years came with the hapless mid-2000s Bobcats, Knight averaged a respectable 7.6 APG over his career. Knight has served as a color commentator for the Memphis Grizzlies since 2010.

17. Orlando Magic – Johnny Taylor, PF, Chattanooga
Taylor only played 3 years in the NBA, also playing for the Nuggets before returning the Magic for 5 games. He also played in Italy, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Lebanon, Belgium, Japan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates before retiring in 2012. Today, he runs a youth basketball academy in Tennessee.

18. Portland Trail Blazers – Chris Anstey, PF, Australia
Following in Luc Longley’s steps, Anstey was a highly successful player in Australia before getting drafted. He lasted only 3 seasons, but returned home to have an extremely decorated career in the NBL, winning MVP twice, Finals MVP in 2006, and being the anchor on 3 championship squads. He served as the head coach of the Melbourne United from 2012 to 2014.

19. Detroit Pistons – Scot Pollard, C, Kansas
Pollard’s most lasting impact may be his ridiculous hairstyles, but he was a key bench player for the Kings in the early 2000s as they just narrowly missed a NBA Finals appearance. Pollard retired after winning a championship with Celtics in 2008. He is currently an actor, appearing in “The Profit” in 2017.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Paul Grant, C, Wisconsin
Grant only played 16 games, but bounced around the semi-pros until 2004. He was an assistant coach for MIT from 2007-2013. Grant was the highest drafted player in 1997 to have negative Win Shares.

21. New Jersey Nets – Anthony Parker, SG, Bradley
Parker’s sister Candace is one of the best women’s basketball players of all time. Parker himself was a huge disappointment, leaving for a successful stint in Israel after 3 seasons. He returned to the Raptors in 2006 and immediately established himself as a scorer, averaging 11.9 PPG in 3 seasons. He went to LeBron’s Cavs in 2009, but dropped off after James went to Miami. He is currently a scout with the Magic.

22. Atlanta Hawks – Ed Gray, G, Cal
Ed Gray would ultimately play only 60 games in the NBA. He retired in 2002 after playing in the D-League. Since he averaged 24.8 PPG in 1996-97, no Pac-10/12 players has averaged more.

23. Seattle SuperSonics – Bobby Jackson, G, Minnesota
Jackson came off the bench in 612 of his 755 career games, and was 6th man of the year in 2003. A gifted scorer, Jackson was an integral part of playoff teams in Sacramento along with Pollard. Jackson was a crowd favorite in Arco, and spent his final season in 2009 in California’s capital. He served as a player development coach for the T-Wolves, but is now an analyst for the Kings.

24. Houston Rockets – Rodrick Rhodes, SG, USC
Rhodes only played 72 games in the NBA. He spent a short amount of time in international leagues before becoming a coach. He served as the head coach of Cordia High School in Kentucky from 2011-2016. In 2014, he was disciplined for “the most wanton and blatant disregard for [Kentucky High School Athletic Association] rules in its 97-year history.” He has the worst win shares of any 1st rounder from 1997 with -1.6. (I’m a USC fan and this makes me sad)

25. New York Knickerbockers – John Thomas, C, Minnesota
Thomas spent 5 years in the NBA, with a break in between to play in the Dominican Republic and China. The majority of Thomas’ time was with the Raptors, where he averaged 2.8 PPG and 2.1 RPG. As of 2014, Thomas was the National Coordinator for Ultimate Hoops, an adult basketball league.

26. Miami HEAT – Charles Smith, SG, New Mexico
Smith achieved far more success abroad than in the NBA, winning best Euroleague Scorer in 2005, and EuroLeague Finals MVP in 2007. He played in Europe until 2011. His last stint in the NBA was 1 game with the Nuggets in 2006.

27. Utah Jazz – Jacque Vaughn, PG, Kansas
Vaughn played 12 years in the NBA, mostly as a backup. He wrapped up his career playing with #1 overall pick Duncan in San Antonio, then immediately became an assistant to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. After two years, he was hired as the head coach of the Magic, where he compiled a less than optimal 58-158 record. Today, he serves as an assistant to Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn.

28. Chicago Bulls – Keith Booth, SF, Maryland
Booth was drafted into a tough situation, as the Bulls were one of the best teams of all time, with one of the best SFs of all time, Scottie Pippen. Regardless, Booth never emerged, playing only 45 NBA games. After his playing career, Booth became a college coach at his alma mater. In 2013, he became the head coach of Loyola (MD).

SECOND ROUND

29. Houston Rockets – Serge Zwikker, C, North Carolina
Zwikker is the highest drafted player to never play in the NBA. Zwikker played two years abroad. Currently, Zwikker works in IT. His former coach Dean Smith also left him $200 in his will.

30. Miami HEAT – Mark Sanford, F, Washington
At one point, Sanford was projected as a lottery pick. Former Pacers coach Larry Bird stated that if he stayed for his senior year, the defensive stalwart could have been a top 3 pick. Sanford never played in the NBA, but did tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. He had numerous questions about his character due to a confrontation with his agent. After being drafted, Sanford tore his plantar fascia. He spent some time abroad before becoming a coach in 2009. Today, he’s a player development coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.

31. Detroit Pistons – Charles O’Bannon, PG, UCLA
O’Bannon lived in the shadow of his older brother Ed, who was a hero during UCLA’s 1995 National Championship. Charles only played 48 games in the NBA before spending an additional 14 years abroad. His son, Charles O’Bannon Jr, was the 42nd ranked recruit in the class of 2017 and committed to UCLA’s rival, Southern California.

32. Denver Nuggets – James Cotton, SF, Long Beach St
Cotton only played 19 games in the NBA, but also spent time in Australia. His younger brother Schea spent 9 years abroad. The former Artesia HS star remains in his brother’s shadow, as Schea currently serves as an AAU coach, with James’ whereabouts hidden on Google.

33. Philadelphia 76ers – Marko Milic, G, Slovenia
Milic never played in the NBA, but played 24 years abroad (yes, 24)! Milic’s final season came with Al Kuwait in Kuwait in 2015.

34. Dallas Mavericks – Bubba Wells, F, Austin Peay
Wells has the quickest disqualification due to personal fouls in an NBA regular season game in 1997, when he quickly fouled Dennis Rodman and was disqualified in less than 3 minutes. Currently, he is an 39

35. Philadelphia 76ers – Kebu Stewart, F, CSU Bakersfield
Stewart had a long professional career, even if he only played 15 NBA games. He played in Israel, Russia and Serbia, among others. As of 2015, he was a coach in Los Angeles.

36. Philadelphia 76ers – James Collins, G, Florida State
Collins played in 23 games for the 76ers for the 90s Clippers. Afterwards, Collins spent an additional 9 years abroad. Since retiring, Collins has laid low.

37. Golden State Warriors – Marc Jackson, F, Temple
Not as famous as the former Warriors coach, Jackson did not play in the NBA until 2000. He played 387 games over 7 years. He played in Europe until 2010.

38. Milwaukee Bucks – Jerald Honeycutt, PF, Tulane
Honeycutt played 2 years in the NBA, before spending time in Philippines, Greece, Russia, Lebanon, and Japan. In 2016, he was playing in the Philippines for TNT KaTropa.

39. Sacramento Kings – Anthony Johnson, G, Charleston
Despite being a mid-2nd round pick, Johnson ended up having a 12 year career. He played nearly 800 games, with 249 starts. He retired after the 2010 season and most recently was a scout for the New Orleans Pelicans.

40. Seattle SuperSonics – Ed Elisma, SF, Georgia Tech
Although he never played in the NBA, Elisma spent 17 years overseas, including time in Belgium, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. He retired after spending the 2014 season with Indios de San Francisco in the Dominican.

41. Denver Nuggets – Jason Lawson, C, Villanova
Lawson played a grand total of 17 games during 1 season in the NBA. He played professionally in other leagues until 2008. Today, you can book him as a private coach.
42. Phoenix Suns – Stephen Jackson, G/F, Butler CC
Jackson is undeniably the most successful second round pick of 1997. He won a NBA championship in 2003, and played nearly 16 years. One of the more talented scorers of the 2000s, Jackson averaged 15.1 PPG for his career over 20 PPG in 3 full seasons. Today, Jackson serves as a media pundit, offering interviews on a variety of NBA topics.

43. Minnesota Timberwolves – Gordon Malone, SF, West Virginia
Malone never played in the NBA, but did spend time with the Harlem Globetrotters. In 2008, Malone said he regretted leaving for the draft early.

44. Cleveland Cavaliers – Cedric Henderson, PF, Memphis
Henderson managed a 5 year career as a backup. Decent at a few things, but good at nothing, Henderson spent an additional 5 years in Europe.

45. Washington Bullets – God Shammgod, PG, Providence
Despite only playing 20 games in the league, Shammgod had an incredibly impactful career. One of the most hyped high school players ever, Shammgod arguably had the best handle in basketball history. His signature move remains one of the most effective moves in 2017, with triple double king Russell Westbrook using his signature move regularly. Today, Shammgod works as an individual coach and a strong supporter of his alma mater Providence. If you haven’t already, watch Shammgod’s top highlight video on YouTube. He is one of the ultimate what ifs of basketball.

46. Orlando Magic – Eric Washington, SG, Alabama
Washington had a much more successful career abroad than the NBA, playing in China, Finland and Germany, among other places. He last played in 2010 for Nurnberg Falcons BC in Germany.

47. Portland Trail Blazers – Alvin Williams, PG, Villanova
Considering his draft position, Williams had a good NBA career. He played 10 seasons, including 8 with the Raptors, with whom he started 324 games. After retirement, Williams became the Raptors’ Director of Player Development, a position he held until 2013. Currently, he hosts basketball clinics around North America.

48. Washington Bullets – Predrag Drobjnak, C, Serbia
I’ll never forget reading an article when Drobjnak was with Seattle that stated he had size 13 feet, which made me greatly question how he balanced at 7 feet tall. Drobjnak played four average seasons in the NBA, before becoming highly successful in Serbia, Spain and Turkey leagues. In 2015, Vlade Divac offered him a position as a scout with the Kings.

49. Atlanta Hawks – Alain Digbeu, SG, France
Digbeu never played in the NBA but played until 2011 abroad. Today, Digbeu’s Twitter bio claims he is married to a butterfly and is in charge of Galatasaray’s baskeball B team.

50. Atlanta Hawks – Chris Crawford, SF, Marquette
Crawford played his whole career with the Hawks, mostly coming off the bench. Possibly due to his extremely generic name, there is no information on Google on his activities post-NBA.

51. Los Angeles Lakers – DeJuan Wheat, PG, Louisville
A college superstar, Wheat never achieved the same heights in the NBA. After fizzling out, Wheat spent time in Mexico. In 2016, he was named the head coach of Valley High School in Kentucky. He compiled a 20-10 record in his first season at the helm.

52. Vancouver Grizzlies – CJ Bruton, PG, Indian Hills CC
Bruton is easily the most successful player from the 1997 NBA Draft that never played in the league. Bruton became one of the best players in the Australian basketball history, winning the NBL championship a total of 6 times, including a Finals MVP performance in 2012. He also played for the Boomers in the 2008 Olympics. Today, Bruton is the head coach of the Brisbane Spartans.

53. Los Angeles Lakers – Paul Rogers, C, Gonzaga
Rogers also spent his entire career in Australia, as a native South Aussie. He won two NBL Championships, and most recently appeared on an [Australian basketball podcast.]( http://www.aussiehoopla.com/paul-rogers-perth-wildcats-adelaide-36ers-aj-ogilvy-illawarra-hawks/)

54. Seattle SuperSonics – Mark Blount, F/C, Pittsburgh
Blount was the lowest draft player to play in the NBA, and he made the most of his career. He spent 9 years in the league, establishing himself as a capable shot blocker and rebounder. His career ended in 2010, but he has become a highly successful businessman. He owns a series of Cinnabon and Auntie Anne franchises, and has other investment properties.

55. Boston Celtics – Ben Pepper, C, Australia
Pepper played his whole career in his native country, winning 6th man of the year prior to being drafted. Pepper has remained quiet since retiring after the 2008 season.

56. Utah Jazz – Nate Erdmann, SG, Oklahoma
Erdmann played abroad in Spain, Poland, and France among other countries. As of 2013, he was Advanced Therapeutics Territory Manager for Smith & Nephew.

57. Chicago Bulls – Roberto Duenas, C, Spain
There’s a reason the most well-known Mr. Irrelevant in the NBA is Isaiah Thomas, not Roberto Duenas. He did have a solid career overseas, appearing for Spain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics as well. Currently he is a member of the coaching staff at FC Barcelona’s basketball squad.

UNDRAFTED

Pat Burke, C, Ireland
Burke spent some time as the token big white guy off the bench for the Suns. Currently, he runs a basketball academy in Orlando.

Troy Hudson, G, Southern Illinois
Hudson was a key bench player for Kevin Garnett’s original “Big 3” in Minnesota with Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell. Hudson was an above average scorer with range from deep. After retiring, he has focused on his music career, releasing a major label album “Undrafted” and recording over 800 songs.

Damon Jones, G, Houston
Jones is most famous as a sidekick of Anthony Parker and LeBron James for the Cavs. After retiring, he spent time as James’ personal shooting coach and is now a coach for the Cavs’ D-League affiliate the Canton Charge.

Mikki Moore, F/C, Nebraska
Moore was a quintessential journeyman, ultimately retiring after spending the 2013 season in the D-League. Although he maintains a Twitter @mikkimoore33, he has not provided any recent updates.

Ira Newble, F, Miami (OH)
Newble is another sidekick of LeBron James in Cleveland. After retiring in 2010, he became a coach, spending time in the D-League with the Charge, Austin Spurs and Bakersfield Jam.

Mike Penberthy, G, The Master’s
As a Lakers fan, Penberthy makes the list even if he only played 56 NBA games. Former NBA Champion Mike Penberthy is now a private shot coach for NBA players.

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