The 1999 NBA Draft was a weird draft. It came at a weird time – immediately after the lockout-shortened '98-'99 NBA season, the first season after Michael Jordan's second retirement. Talented players who would become key rotation players filled the draft, but there were no real "superstars." Two of the league's biggest oddballs, Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace, were selected in the first round, and numerous other first-round picks developed into interesting and strange characters. It is only fitting that Jason Terry – an oddball character himself who would grow into a key rotation player for a championship-winning team – would be a lottery pick in this draft.
In some ways, Terry was unlucky. While he was a first-team All-American in college, he was viewed as somewhere between the third and fifth best point guard prospect in the draft. Despite all his accolades and despite winning the Pac-10 Player of the Year award, UCLA's Baron Davis was ahead of him on draft boards, as was Maryland's Steve Francis. Terry was in the next group with Utah's Andre Miller and Duke's William Avery.
Fortunately, there were plenty of teams in the lottery that needed point guards. Other than the Phoenix Suns (who had Jason Kidd), the Vancouver Grizzlies (who had just drafted Mike Bibby with the No. 2 pick the year before, though it did not stop them from picking Francis), and maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves (who traded for Terrell Brandon the year before), every other lottery team could use some help at point guard. With such depth and talent at the position, one team even traded their veteran point guard to move into the lottery and find their point guard of the future. That team was the Atlanta Hawks.
Just before the draft, the Hawks traded their long-time point guard, Mookie Blaylock, and the 21st pick in the draft for Bimbo Coles and the No. 10 pick. The Hawks had made the playoffs for seven consecutive years with Blaylock at the point, but had never made the Eastern Conference Finals. By trading Blaylock, it was clear the Hawks were turning the page on that era and looking for their point guard of the future. While it was very unlikely Francis or Davis would fall all the way to Atlanta at 10, Miller, Terry, and Avery were all potential options. After Miller went to the Cavs at 8 and Shawn Marion went to the Suns at 9, the Hawks were left to choose between Terry or Avery as the heir apparent to Mookie Blaylock. They chose Terry:
As you can tell, the draft analysts at TNT spent more time commenting on Jason's eccentricities (from ordering chicken fingers before games to wearing multiple pairs of socks and sleeping in his jersey) than commenting on his talent. Still, Terry was a good fit for the Hawks, a team that needed a point guard and was looking to build for the future.
Given the depth of the draft, Jason Terry was selected at about the right spot. Among players in that draft, Terry is fifth in career win shares, behind Marion, Elton Brand, Miller, and Manu Ginobili, but ahead of Odom, Artest, Davis, Francis, and Andrei Kirilenko. However, he was never as good as Francis or Davis at their peaks, and even in a re-draft, he might only jump a couple of spots (ahead of Jonathan Bender and Wally Szczerbiak, but not necessarily ahead of Richard Hamilton, Odom, or any other the other players ahead of him).
Nevertheless, he has continued to contribute in the league while some of his more talented colleagues (Davis and Francis, in particular) have flamed out. At the same time, he has continued to be the same sort of superstitious oddball as he was at Arizona, whether tattooing the Boston Celtics logo onto his arm or breaking every broom in his house to prevent a Thunder sweep. In a draft full of key rotation guys and quirky characters, Jason Terry embodied the best of both.