A while back I got in this weird obsession of looking at Wikipedia pages of NBA Drafts over the last thirty years. Not sure why, other than I needed some “shut my brain off” time. I guess I like the nostalgia, and I enjoy seeing which players drafted in the second or third rounds and made a career for themselves, and who were the big-time busts. I decided to go through from 1980 until now, and just write some random thoughts (most of the thoughts are stuck in the ‘80s, by the way) and share them with you. None of the information in this post is taken from the little article on the top of the Wikipedia page, where they list famous picks for the year, memorable trades, etc. I went through the charts of the draft picks and made these observations myself (with two exceptions marked with a *). I had a great time just clicking around thinking, “Oh look, Jim McIlvaine!” and other similar thoughts. Enjoy.
- The first NBA draft was in 1950. In years past it was the BAA draft. The first official pick was made by the Boston Celtics, who chose Chuck Share from Bowling Green University. However, Paul Arizin of Villanova was chosen before him as a “Territorial Pick” by the Philadelphia Warriors. A territorial pick was a move when the league was starting out where a team could forfeit their 1st and 2nd round picks to take a college player within a 50 mile radius in an attempt to boost local interest in the newly formed NBA teams.*
- Why am I outraged that there isn’t every pick of all the rounds for 1982? The sequential list ends at 46, and another column entitled “Other Notable Picks” has the highest number of 220 (Sean Tuohy). Who else was on that list that was left out?!?! We could be missing out on the basketball equivalent of Jerry Don Gleaton. Apparently not everyone at Wikipedia shares the same sense of humor when it comes to names of average-to-below-average professional athletes’ from the ‘80s. [One recognizable pick on the list: All Star and giant Mark Eaton, #72]
“Huh, look at that. Someone at Wikipedia thinks I’m notable,” says Eaton over breakfast one day.
- Steve Kerr was the last pick of the second round in 1988. He went on to win five championship rings (3 with the Bulls, 2 with the Spurs) during a 1 year career, and have highest career three point percentage in NBA history.*
- LeMone Lampley (#38, 1986) is the only guy I saw that did not have a highlighted name with a link to his own Wikipedia page. I have the urge to start one, and just write, “Picked #38th in the 1986 draft. Only player without a page,” or something like that. That is, if I had time to mess around on Wikipedia and stuff. Some guys have a red highlighted name with a link that goes to a page saying “this page does not exist.” LeMone didn’t even qualify for this. I’m intrigued.
- More from 1986: The best seven guys in their prime drafted in the second round (in my opinion) would trounce the best seven taken in the first round:
2nd Round Team: PG – Mark Price, SG – Nate McMillan, SF – David Wingate, PF – Dennis Rodman, C – Larry Krystowiak, Bench – Otis Smith, Jeff Hornecek
1st Round Team: PG – Scott Skiles, SG – Johnny Dawkins, SF – Chuck Persons, PF – Roy Tarpley, C– Brad Daugherty, Bench – Del Curry, John Salley
- Never mentioned in the “Dumbest Trades in Sports / Basketball History:” Scottie Pippen traded on draft day from Seattle to Chicago for Olden Polynice.
- Three of the top five picks in the 1994 draft played in the 2011-12 season. Jason Kidd and Grant Hill are still going at it this year, and Juwan Howard won a ring with the Heat last year and hasn’t resurfaced.
- They wouldn’t have permission to use game photos on Wikipedia. This leads to some silly ways to put famous draft picks’ faces on the screen. Like this ridiculous picture of Michael Smith (#13, 1989).
- 1989 was the first year the draft was only two rounds. Looking at the list of players picked, probably the worst of the drafts. Coincidence? (Pervis – #1, Stacey King – #6, Pooh Richardson #10)
- There isn’t much interesting writing material on the 1990’s and 2000’s. The mid to late ‘90s were tough for the NBA with tons of less than stellar draft picks getting tons of money, so writing something like, “I can’t believe Dickey Simpkins, Eric Piatkowski, and Yinka Dare were all first round draft picks in the same year,” didn’t seem too interesting and once the 2000s hit, it’s recent memory, so there’s nothing new or surprising. One observation I will make: I started recognizing less and less second round picks as the years progressed. I guess that shows a progression of scouting technology.
So that’s that. Most of the stuff I wrote was news to me, and I hope you all found it informative and entertaining.
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