It all happened in the 1997 NBA Draft. The Spurs had the first pick in the draft after finishing 20-62 the previous season. Many NBA fans were in disbelief with the Spurs season as they had won at least 55 games in the previous three seasons. They did face injuries to David Robinson and Sean Elliott, but it was still truly unexpected.
Tim Duncan was seen as the consensus first pick. Duncan, a power forward out of Wake Forest had a dominant four-year career with the Demon Deacons. He was a great post player and a terrific defender. How can one go wrong with Duncan? However imagine if the Spurs would’ve went Keith Van Horn, who was selected with the second pick by Philadelphia. Don’t get me wrong, Van Horn had a respectable career. In his 10-year career he posted averages of 16 points and 6.8 rebounds. Duncan on the other hand has the upper hand in nearly everything basketball related. He has the better resume and is also the much better player. It’s hard to say that Van Horn wasn’t an intriguing option. He was a 6’10 shooter that can play either forward spot.
If the Spurs would’ve selected Van Horn it’s arguable that he would have fit in well with David Robinson.
Mar 1, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers former guardAllen Iverson
during his jersey number retirement ceremony at halftime of game between the 76ers and Washington Wizards at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The problem is that Van Horn was at best an average defender and a mediocre player in the paint. The Spurs would’ve still had success with Robinson and Van Horn down low, but it’s unlikely they would’ve went on to win five championships in the next 16 years.
If that happened the 76ers would have 15-time All-Star, Tim Duncan. I know what most people are thinking, it’s the 76ers! But at the time they had Allen Iverson, the first pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. It just happens that Iverson ended up becoming an 11-time NBA All-Star and one of the best scorers of all-time.
Had the Spurs taken Van Horn, it would be the 76ers with the championship banners, not the Spurs.