Best Rookie Class Ever? 1996-97 Ultra All-Rookie

The 1996-97 rookie class was completely loaded with talent, and rates among the best of all-time. Iverson, Marbury, Allen, Kobe, Nash, O’Neal, Abdur-Rahim, Stojakovic, Camby, Walker, the list goes on and on. You’ve got players who made big impacts on contending and championship teams, Derek Fisher, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Kerry Kittles, Shandon Anderson, Erick Dampier, Malik Rose, to name a handful.

And so when you look at insert sets dedicated to the rookie class from that draft, they are obviously going to be loaded with meaningful cards. What stands out to me from this design is the color. The players in the spotlight with a dark background make the colors pop even more.

The set has an ’embossed’ type layering that is a part of why the players stand out so much on the cards.

It’s fun to read the write ups for these players who we all know and love before they were NBA stars. Interesting to read about the concerns about Camby’s slender frame, Fisher coming out of the Sun Belt conference as an unknown, and Adbur-Rahim being thought of by some as the best talent in the draft.

The favorite that I own is this Ray Allen. Maybe it’s because my 5 year-old is all about the Bucks right now and it makes me appreciate any Bucks cards more, but a Hall of Famer from a classic set like 1996-97 Ultra is going to have a special place in my collection. This might be a set that I end up trying to complete. The Kobe is obviously going to be pricey, but outside of that, the rest of the set is very obtainable, especially since these were inserted at 1:4 packs. Nash is the guy who’s missing from this set, but selfishly I wish Jermaine O’Neal was also there as a Pacers fan.

Where does this rookie class fall in your rankings?

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