Today is the first week day I’ve had off since New Year’s. So of course I’m sitting in front of the TV watching sports. There is a wonderful tennis match being played before my eyes at Roland Garros, but I can’t give it my full attention. Mainly because it’s strange for me to hear guys grunting as they hit a fuzzy yellow ball around. To take my mind off of the sounds coming from the set (that are almost drowning out McEnroe’s commentary), I decided to do a little research.
Today’s research led me to re-draft the 1987 NBA draft. 1987 was about the time in my life that I first started to play basketball. Since that was my first attempt at the game I grew to love, I figured it the best place to start posting.
The 1987 draft wasn’t very deep, but there were hall of famers and all-stars available if your GM drafted wisely. Looking back now, it is clear that there were more than a handful of GMs that missed the mark. Only 55 of the 161 players drafted ever played a game in the NBA.
It’s important to note that the draft was seven rounds back then with only 23 teams not like the two rounds and 30 teams we have today. I’m sure most of the late-round picks were shots in the dark since today’s technology wasn’t available.
There were six big misses in the first round with José Ortiz and Ronnie Murphy being the most notable flops. Murphy lasted just 18 games while Jazz favorite Ortiz managed to stick it out for 64 games over two seasons. I’m sure Jazz fans have always wondered what it would have been had they taken Reggie Lewis with the 15th pick that they used on Ortiz. Of course, the Jazz and Trail Blazers (who drafted Murphy at 17), aren’t the only teams that made huge mistakes. New Jersey passed on Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson, and Reggie Miller to draft Dennis Hopson with the third pick. Yeah I know what you’re thinking… the Nets jacked that up big time.
Here is how the first round would look today through my eyes.
23. Brad Lohaus
Originally drafted with the 45th pick in the second round, Lohaus was a serviceable big man who came off the bench most of his career.
22. Donald Royal
Royal was the 52nd pick in the third round. He managed to play eight years in the league mostly with the magic spending one full year as a starter. He averaged nine points and four rebounds that season.
21. Vincent Askew
The 39th pick in the second round by the 76ers, Askew lasted nine years in the league playing about 20 minutes a night. His best season came with the Sonics when he narrowly missed averaging double figures at 9.9 points.
20. Chris Dudley
Dudley was the 75th pick in the fourth round. I know, I know. How in the world is Chris Dudley a first round pick? You must have lost your mind. Even though the big man from Yale is one of the worst free-throw shooters in the leagues history he actually spent 16 year in the NBA and was a full-time starter for a couple of years. During his best year in Portland, he averaged 7.1 points 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
19. Dennis Hopson
Hopson wasn’t a terrible player with the Nets, but when you are drafted 3rd there are some pretty serious expectations to live up to. He averaged 15.8 points in his third year, but was out of the NBA two years later.
18. Winston Garland
taken with the 40th pick in the second round Garland played seven years for five teams. He was a starter the majority of his career with his best season coming as a Warrior. He averaged 14.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 2.2 steals.
17. Greg Anderson
Anderson was the last pick of the first round by the Spurs. His best years were in San Antonio where in his second year he averaged 13.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks.
16. Kevin Gamble
Gamble was drafted by Portland with the 63rd pick in the 3rd round. He only played 19 minutes for the Blazers before being waived early in his rookie season. A little over a year later the Celtics took a chance on the former Iowa small forward and it paid off. He lasted six years with the Celtics averaging double digits in points in four of those years.
15. Sarunas Marciulionis
Marciulionis was taken with the 127th pick in the 6th round. He only played parts of seven seasons in the NBA but made a huge splash before a serious injury limited his career. At his peak, he was a great shooter for Golden State averaging almost 19 points a game and finishing runner-up in the sixth man of the year voting. He was also one of the first Europeans to make his way to the NBA.
14. Olden Polynice
Originally the eighth pick in the draft, Polynice played almost 1,100 games mostly as a starter. While never an offensive force, he was a good rebounder and defender. He finished his career with 7,110 rebounds and had four straight years as a double figure scorer.
13. Muggsy Bogues
The Wake Forest point guard was the 12th pick by Washington. He had a stellar career as a lead guard averaging more than eight assists a game in six consecutive seasons for the Charlotte Hornets.
12. Reggie Williams
The fourth player taken in the first round by the Clippers, Williams managed to last just over two years in Los Angeles before being traded. He bounced around for a few years before finally finding his foot hold and a place in the rotation in Denver. In his first five years in the mile high city he never averaged less than 13 points a game.
11. Derrick McKey
McKey was the ninth pick of the first round. He played 937 games mostly in Seattle and Indiana. He was a great glue guy, who during his best years averaged double figures in scoring while contributing nearly five boards a game as well.
10. Kenny Smith
You may know him as Charles Barkley’s sidekick on Inside the NBA, but before that, he was the sixth pick in the first round. He was a key contributor on two Rockets’ championship teams with his outside shooting. He also averaged double figures in scoring the first eight years of his career with more than five assists a game in his first six.
9. Ken Norman
Norman was originally taken with the 19th pick in the first round by the Clippers. He played 10 years with three teams, but most of his success came in Los Angeles. He averaged more 16 points and six rebounds per game for three straight seasons while being a key piece of two Clipper playoff teams.
8. Armen Gilliam
Taken right after “the Admiral” with the second pick, Gilliam played 13 years with six teams with his best year coming in New Jersey when he averaged 18.3 points a game and 9.1 rebounds.
7. Horace Grant
Originally the 10th pick in the draft out of Clemson, Grant was an all-star who was a rugged power forward for the Bulls during their first three titles. He lasted in the league for 17 years amassing 12,996 points and 9,443 rebounds.
6. Mark Jackson
The third highest assist-man in NBA history was originally taken with the 18th pick by the Knicks. He was a one-time all-star who finished top ten in assists in 12 seasons.
5. Reggie Lewis
Lewis was taken with the 22nd pick by the Celtics. After barely cracking the line-up his rookie year, he became a starter in year two. In his five years as a starter he never averaged less than 17 points a game. He was on the path to be a Celtics’ great before his untimely passing after his only his sixth season in the NBA.
4. Kevin Johnson
Johnson was taken with the seventh picked by the Cavaliers. He barely played half a season in Cleveland before he was traded to the Suns for Larry Nance. Once he arrived in Phoenix, he began to shine. He averaged 17.9 points per game and more than nine assists. He was All-NBA 2nd-team four times, an 3rd-team All-NBA selection once and a three-time all-star.
3. Reggie Miller
Miller was taken with the 11th pick of the drafted by the Pacers out of UCLA. He was one of the best shooters in NBA history scoring over 25,000 career points. He spent all 18 NBA seasons with the Pacers where he was a five-time all-star. For his exploits on the hardwood, he was enshrined in the basketball hall of fame in 2012.
2. Scottie Pippen
Pippen was taken fifth by the Sonics before being traded to the Bulls for Olden Polynice. He was a multi-faceted player who along with Michael Jordan, led the Bulls to six titles in eight years. He was a seven-time all-star as well as a member of the original dream team and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. He was elected to the hall of fame in 2010.
1. David Robinson
The Spurs got it right, selecting Robinson with the first pick overall in 1987. Even though they had to wait two years for his services, he arrived with a splash in San Antonio in 1989. He was a 10-time all-star who played on two dream teams and also was one of the NBA’s 50 greatest. He finished top ten in MVP balloting nine times while winning the award once. David was also on the all NBA first second or third team 10 times. He was elected to the Naismith basketball hall of fame in 2009 after helping the Spurs win two championships.
This draft had three guys who rank very highly on my favorites list. Guys that I kinda patterned my game after. They are Miller, Lewis and Marciulionis. I still remember the day that Lewis died. It was shocking to me. A guy so young, just hitting the prime of his career taken too soon. I loved his style and flair. He was so much fun to watch. Every now and then I turn on the tivo and watch him play. I still wonder to this day how long the Celtics would have ruled the NBA had Bias and Lewis not died. They would have been a great combo. I’m sure their presence would have prolonged Larry Bird’s career as well as Kevin Mchale’s. The Celtics would have three more rings…In my dreams at least.