2014 NBA Draft: 16 Little-Known Facts About the NBA Draft
June 9th, 2014| by Lost Lettermen
Thanks But No Thanks
The NBA draft has seen a few zany things over the course of its soon-to-be, 68-year history. We cobbled together 16 of those crazier facts.
The Pittsburgh Ironmen made Texas Wesleyan’s Clifton McNeely the first No. 1 draft pick ever, in 1947 (back when the NBA was the BAA). The 28-year-old McNeely, who served with the U.S. Air Corps in World War II, opted for a career as the boys’ basketball coach at Pampa (TX) High School instead and never played professionally.
Hoping to Strike Gold
A month-and-a-half before his four-gold medal performance at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Carl Lewis was selected in the 10th round by the Chicago Bulls, who had drafted Michael Jordan in the first round earlier in the draft.
Duke of the Draft
45 different colleges have produced the No. 1 overall pick since 1947. Duke boasts the most top picks of any school with three (Art Heyman, Elton Brand and Kyrie Irving).
Respect Your Elders?
The last college senior selected first overall in the NBA draft was Cincinnati’s Kenyon Martin, who went No. 1 to the New Jersey Nets in 2000.
The NBA draft lottery was held for the first time in 1985. The reason? The year before numerous teams were accused of tanking in order to win the right to draft Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon with the 1984 No. 1 overall pick.
Bird Won’t Leave the Nest
Larry Bird was selected sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1978 NBA Draft after his junior year at Indiana State but opted to stay in college. Soon after, the NBA adopted the “Bird Collegiate Rule,” preventing teams from drafting players before they were ready to sign.
Thunder Rolls In
Orlando high schooler Darryl Dawkins (later nicknamed “Chocolate Thunder” by singer Stevie Wonder) became the NBA’s first preps-to-pros NBA player when he went No. 5 overall to the 76ers in 1975 (Moses Malone was drafted by the ABA in 1974). Fellow high schooler Bill Willoughby went in the second round of that same draft.
In 1995, Kevin Garnett became the first preps-to-pros player drafted in 20 years. The Timberwolves selected him No. 5 overall – the same pick that the 76ers used on their landmark selection of Darryl Dawkins exactly two decades before.
Think the NFL player draft feels long? The 1968 NBA Draft lasted a whopping 21 rounds, during which 214 players were selected (former Houston star Elvin Hayes was the No. 1 overall pick).
The first 16 picks of the 1984 produced four future Hall of Famers – Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton – as well as three future All-Stars in Alvin Robertson, Otis Thorpe and Kevin Willis.
It’s Actually Lucky to be Cleveland
2014 marks the sixth time that the Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 overall selection, more than any other franchise. Five of those six top picks have come in the draft lottery era.
Nice Job, Nigeria
Nigeria is the only country aside from the U.S. to have produced more than one No. 1 overall pick, having been the birthplace of both Hakeem Olajuwon (1984) and Michael Olowakandi (1999).
Not Many No. 1 Busts
For all the notoriety of former No. 1 picks-turned-busts like Michael Olowakandi, Kwame Brown and Greg Oden, they are rare deviations from the recent mean. Only seven of the past 35 top picks since 1979 have failed to reach an All-Star game.
Same Time, Not Same Place
From 1992-2000, the site of the draft alternated between (in chronological order) Portland, Auburn Hills, Indianapolis, Toronto, East Rutherford, Charlotte, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. It has been held in New York, Brooklyn or New Jersey every year since then.
Widely considered the worst draft class in NBA history, 2000 produced a mere three future All-Stars. Coincidentally, all three – Kenyon Martin, Jamaal Magloire and Michael Redd – would make their lone All-Star game appearances in 2004.
Be Nice to Bowie
Often forgotten in the perpetual “bust” discussion revolving around the No. 2 overall pick in 1984, Sam Bowie (one pick before Michael Jordan), is that Bowie would eventually spend 11 seasons in the NBA and finished with over 5,500 points and over 3,800 rebounds.