#3: Tracy McGrady (1997)
As I mentioned before, these three names were incredibly difficult to rank because of their very different careers, both in effectiveness and in length. Because of the 2nd reason, T-Mac could not have been at the top. McGrady had a shortened career due to major injuries, but his legacy will never be forgotten because of how impactful those years were.
T-Mac was drafted out of high school by the Toronto Raptors, where he joined forces with Vinsanity himself, Vince Carter. These two created one of the most athletically gifted duos the game has ever seen and terrorized the league early on. However, McGrady had other plans and jumped ship to the Orlando Magic for 4 years where he really made his name known. Then, the last effective part of his career was spent in Houston from 2004-2010. During his career, McGrady made it to 7 All-Star games, 7 All-NBA Teams, and back-to-back scoring titles.
#2: Shawn Marion (1999)
There may have been a little bit of hometown favoritism here, but he undoubtedly belongs in this conversation no matter what. The Matrix may not be the athlete or pure scorer (or pure shooter for that matter) that McGrady and Stoudemire were, but the longevity of his career, the effectiveness on defense, and the ring are the big game changers here.
Marion was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1999 out of UNLV. A 4-time NBA All-Star and 2-time All-NBA Team selection, Marion’s award honors do not begin to matchup with the previous two players. However, Marion was not a star during his career and really didn’t want to be. Instead, he did his best work as a glue guy for the teams he played for, most notably as the defensive driving force for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. The same year he won his lone ring. The Matrix is a crowd favorite in Dallas.
#1: Dirk Nowitzki (1998)
Obviously it wasn’t going to be anyone else. The Big German is not just the best 9th pick in NBA history though, he is far more than that as all of you know. There are never enough words to describe the impact that Dirk has made on the NBA and especially in Dallas. Removing the soft tag from European players as a whole, showing the league that you can win a championship as the lone All-Star on a team, proving that big men can shoot, and being the 6th player in NBA history to score 30,000 points are just a few of his accomplishments.
Dirk Nowitzki only gets better when you realize how great of a person he is off the court as well. There are very few people that can stay as humble and light-hearted at the biggest stage, but Dirk is one of them. A 19-year career so far with at least one more season on the way, Nowitzki is a legend, a future Hall of Famer, and a Dallas icon, and he has earned every one of those titles.
The Dallas Mavericks hope to be adding a future name to this list on June 22nd, when they have the 9th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. With a lot of good names to pick from, the #9 pick may just be a great omen for the Mavs.