NBA Draft History: 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000
The NBA Draft is less than two weeks away. Players like Kentucky point guard John Wall and Ohio State All-American Evan Turner make this a very strong draft class. But how will this group compare to the drafts from years past? It will be years before it can be determined if this year’s group is successful in the NBA, but here is a look at the NBA drafts from 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 and how they compare to the best and worst of all time.
1960 NBA Draft (Total rounds: 21)
Notable Players Drafted: Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, Doug Moe
#1 Pick: Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Royals)
In 1960, the NBA was made up of only 8 teams, While the league was small, the draft was big. Even though the league only had eight teams, the draft went 96 picks and lasted 21 rounds! This draft produced two of the greatest basketball players of all time. The Cincinnati Royals selected Oscar Robertson with the first pick. The Minneapolis Lakers followed right behind selecting Jerry West in the number two slot. Robertson and West were all-star, championship players during their careers and both ended up in the Hall of Fame. After their selection, the only other names of significance in this draft were Lenny Wilkens being drafted by the St. Louis Hawks with the sixth pick and Doug Moe being selected in the 7th round by the Detroit Pistons. Wilkens went on to become a Hall of Fame player and coach during his long and successful NBA career. Doug Moe was a great college player, but his involvement in a point shaving scandal kept him out of the NBA. He went on to a great career in the American Basketball Association and then became a very successful coach of the Denver Nuggets in the NBA during the 1980s.
1970 NBA Draft (Total Rounds: 19)
Notable Players Drafted: Bob Lanier, Pete Maravich, Dave Cowens, Rudy Tomjanovich
#1 Pick: Bob Lanier (Detroit Pistons)
The 1970 NBA draft was one of the best draft classes in NBA history with six members of this draft being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The top four picks were Bob Lanier (Detroit Pistons), Rudy Tomjanovich (San Diego Rockets), Pete Maravich (Atlanta Hawks) and Dave Cowens (Boston Celtics). Lanier was an eight-time All-Star. Tomjanovich became a five-time All-Star and later coached the Houston Rockets to back-to back NBA championships in the 1990s. Pistol Pete Maravich, who was one of the greatest college players of all-time, brought excitement and a new style of play to the NBA. He was a four-time All-Star and led the league in scoring in 1977. Cowens became the most accomplished of the top four picks. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1971, a seven time All-Star, won the league MVP in 1973 and won two championships with the Celtics. Cowens, Maravich and Lanier are all in the Hall of Fame. These four players were enough to make this draft one of the better in NBA history, but it still produced more talent. In the second round, two future Hall of Famers were selected. Calvin Murphy was selected with the 18th pick in the second round by the San Diego Rockets, followed immediately by the Cincinnati Royals picking Nate “Tiny” Archibald. These two players combined for seven All-Star appearances and Archibald became the first player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season (1972). Some notable players drafted but chose the ABA (American Basketball Association) over the NBA were Charlie Scott, Rick Mount and Dan Issel, who would eventually have a successful NBA career and be selected for the Hall of Fame.
1980 NBA Draft (Total Rounds: 10)
Notable Players Drafted: Kevin McHale, Rick Mahorn, Kurt Rambis
#1 Pick: Joe Barry Carroll (Golden State Warriors)
The 1980 NBA Draft lacked star power. It did not produce any truly elite players such as the 1960 or 1970 draft, but it did produce three players who made a significant impact on the the championship teams of the 1980s. Kevin McHale, Rick Mahorn and Kurt Rambis were known as three of the hardest working, hustling and most physical players in the NBA during the 1980s. McHale, who was selected 3rd overall in 1980, would go on to win three championships with the Celtics during the 80s. Mahorn (selected in the 2nd round, 35th overall) would go on to play a role on the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boy” teams of the late 80s, helping win a championship in 1989. Rambis was selected 58th overall by the New York Knicks in the third round, but never played for the team. He joined the Los Angeles Lakers and won four championships with the team. One of these three players appeared in every NBA Finals of the 1980s.
1990 NBA Draft (Total Rounds: 2)
Notable Players Drafted: Derrick Coleman, Gary Payton, Toni Kukoc
#1 Pick: Derrick Coleman (New Jersey Nets)
The 1990 Draft can be summed up with the word ‘serviceable.’ This draft produced only one superstar (Gary Payton , selected 2nd overall by the Seattle Supersonics) but it produced a number of players who went on to careers where they were serviceable for a number of NBA teams. While they may not have turned into stars, players like Derrick Coleman (selected 1st ), Dennis Scott (4th), Dee Brown (19th), Elden Campbell (27th), Toni Kukoc (29th) and Antonio Davis (45th) played key roles for their teams and enjoyed long careers in the NBA. Kukoc and Jud Buechler, who was also selected in the 2 nd round, played an important role in three of the Chicago Bulls championship teams in the late 1990s.
2000 NBA Draft (Total Rounds: 2)
Notable Players Drafted: Kenyon Martin, Michael Redd
#1 Pick: Kenyon Martin (New Jersey Nets)
The 2000 NBA Draft is almost unanimously considered the worst draft in NBA history. It is difficult to see any superstars or future Hall of Famers in this group and there are very few members of this draft class still in the NBA. Kenyon Martin (selected 1st) has gone on to a successful career and Mike Miller (selected 5th by the Orlando Magic) and Michael Redd (2nd round, 43rd overall) have had productive seasons, but the large majority of the players selected accomplished very little. With top 10 picks such as Stromile Swift, Marcus Fizer, and Chris Mihm, this draft produced players that did not last very long in the NBA.
By: David Hyland
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