Nostalgiaspeak by WillyPops:

Our very own Willy Pops will be posting a montly blog here to discuss sports memories, or sports nostalgia.  Maybe some of these memories will envoke emotion in you or help you to remember your very own fan experiences.  This is the place to Voice Your Passion and get Nostalgic about the thing we love…SPORTS!


By WillyPops:

In the past, whenever there has been an upcoming major event like the Super Bowl or March Madness, I’ve written a blog presenting some trivial facts about that particular event.  For the most part, the facts were irrelevant in terms of their bearing on the potential outcome of the event.  But to some at least, they were interesting tidbits that were just fun to know.  So, on the assumption that you are reading this because you consider the NBA Draft to be a major event (and why wouldn’t you?), I offer up a few pieces of information and other observations about past NBA Drafts – enjoy!

  • The first NBA draft was held in 1947.
  • From 1949 through 1965, when teams struggled to cultivate fan bases, the draft included territorial picks.   Before the start of the draft, a team could forfeit its first-round pick and instead select a player from its immediate area, presumably with a strong local following.As a result, the designated overall # 1 pick was that player who was the first to be selected after the territorial picks concluded.  If however, the team holding the rights to the #1 pick decided to make a territorial selection, then that player was designated as the overall #1 pick.  Cleared that up for you, huh?
  • The overall #1 pick in that first 1947 draft, was Clifton McNeely out of Texas Wesleyan, taken by the Pittsburgh Ironmen.  Unfortunately for him, the Ironmen only existed for one season – the 1946-47 season.  They folded before the 1948-49 season got underway.  McNeely never played in the NBA and instead became a high school coach in Texas.
  • In the 1947 draft, there were 10 teams that participated and the 1948 draft had 12 teams participating.  Of the 22 first round draft picks over that two-year span, eight of them opted not to play in the NBA (actually, those first two years, the league was called the BAA – Basketball Association of America.  In 1949, the BAA merged with a rival league and the merged league became the NBA).
  • In the 1952 draft, the Fort Wayne Pistons’ first round pick (#3 overall) was Dick Groat, a two-time All-American guard out of Duke.  He also happened to be an All-American baseball player and was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1952, just days after graduating from Duke.  He broke in with the Pirates in June of that year, never having played in the minor leagues.  After the baseball season, he played the 1952-53 season with the Pistons, averaging 11.9 points per game.  Then after a two year Army stint, he returned to the Pirates in 1955 but he chose not to continue his pro basketball career with the Pistons.  In 1960, he won the MVP award after helping to lead the Pirates to a World Series Championship that year.
  • In 1966, the NBA introduced the coin flip between the worst teams in each division to determine who would obtain the first overall draft pick. The team who lost the coin flip would get the second pick, while the rest of the first-round picks were determined in reverse order of the win-loss record. In this system, the second-worst team would never have a chance to obtain the first pick if it was in the same division with the worst team. The coin flip meant that both teams had an equal chance to draft first. The coin flip system was used until 1984.


  • Some notable overall #1 selections under the coin toss system were:  Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) by the Milwaukee Bucks; Bill Walton by the Portland Trailblazers; and, Magic Johnson by the Lakers (who had acquired the first round pick of theNew Orleans Jazz which became the first overall pick after the coin flip).  Some teams have all the luck!
  • A lottery system was first used in the 1985 draft .  It was changed to a weighted lottery system in 1990 and then modified in 1993 to the current weighted system which gives the team with the worst record a better statistical chance of getting the first overall pick.
  • A total of 18 overall #1 picks went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
  • Two of those players did not win the award in the season immediately following their draft.  Blake Griffin was drafted in 2009 but due to injury, he did not play in the 2009-10 season.  Thus his rookie year was the 2010-11 season.  David Robinson (Naval Academy) was drafted in 1987, but due to his military commitment, his rookie season did not occur until the 1989-90 season.
  • Arguably, the three best draft classes were 1984, 1996 and 2003.  The 1984 class included Michael Jordan (#3), Akeem Olajuwon (#1), Charles Barkley (#5) and John Stockton (#16).The 1996 class included Allen Iverson (#1), Stephon Marbury (#4), Ray Allen (#5), Kobe Bryant (#13) and Steve Nash (#15).  The 2003 class included LeBron James (#1), Carmelo Anthony (#3), Chris Bosh (#4) and Dwyane Wade (#5).  Pretty hard to say which one was the best.
  • The 1980 draft was the first to be televised – by the USA Network.  In 2003, ESPN began broadcasting the draft and has continued to do so to the present.

Enjoy the NBA Draft!

Past Nostalgiaspeaks:
“NBA Draft Trivial Facts”
“Sweet 16 Trivial NCAA Tournament Facts”
“Trivial Super Bowl Facts”
“A Moment To Pause”
“What to Wear, What to Wear”
“One Moment in Time”
“Take Me Out to the Ballpark”