1970 NBA Draft: 12 Reasons (Players) It’s One Of The Best Ever

Nate Archibald, Pete Maravich, and Dave Cowens members of the 1970 NBA Draft class

The 1970 NBA Draft was the 24th in league history after its founding during the 1946-1947 season. The Detroit Pistons were awarded the first overall pick after finishing the previous season with a 31-51 record, the worst in the Eastern Conference. It was the first draft to include the Buffalo Braves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Portland Trail Blazers, 3 new expansion teams who were assigned the 7-9 picks in each round.

The 1970 NBA Draft

Although it doesn’t get the recognition of the 1984, 1996, and 2003 drafts, the 1970 NBA draft was one of the best drafts in NBA history, producing an impressive array of legendary basketball players. Each of the first 4 picks was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, although #2 pick Rudy Tomjanovich was inducted for his career as a coach.

The 1970 NBA draft class produced 12 players who were named to at least 1 all-star team, 4 players were named to at least 1 All-NBA team, and an NBA draft class record 8 members of the hall of fame.

Who won the Rookie of the Year?

Center Dave Cowens of the Boston Celtics and shooting guard Geoff Petrie of the Portland Trail Blazers were co-winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year award after posting impressive individual seasons. Cowens averaged 17 PPG, 15 RPG, and 2.8 APG, all while helping the Celtics to a modest 10-win improvement from the previous season. Petrie was one of the lone bright spots for the inaugural season for the Trail Blazers, who would end up with a paltry 29-53 record, averaging 24.8 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.4 RPG.

Who was in the 1970 NBA Draft Class?


  1. Bob Lanier (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Rudy Tomjanovich (San Diego Rockets)
  3. Pete Maravich (Atlanta Hawks)
  4. Dave Cowens (Boston Celtics)
  5. Sam Lacey (Cincinnati Royals)
  6. Jim Ard (Seattle SuperSonics)
  7. John Johnson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  8. Geoff Petrie (Portland Trail Blazers)
  9. George Johnson (Baltimore Bullets)
  10. Greg Howard (Phoenix Suns)
  11. Jimmy Collins (Chicago Bulls)
  12. Al Henry (Philadelphia 76ers)
  13. Jim McMillian (Los Angeles Lakers)
  14. John Vallely (Atlanta Hawks)
  15. John Hummer (Buffalo Braves)
  16. Gary Freeman (Milwaukee Bucks)
  17. Mike Price (New York Knicks)


  1. Calvin Murphy (San Diego Rockets)
  2. Nate Archibald (Cincinnati Royals)
  3. Jake Ford (Seattle SuperSonics)
  4. Rex Morgan (Boston Celtics)
  5. Doug Cook (Cincinnati Royals)
  6. Pete Cross (Seattle SuperSonics)
  7. Cornell Warner (Buffalo Braves)
  8. Walt Gilmore (Portland Trail Blazers)
  9. Dave Sorenson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  10. Fred Taylor (Phoenix Suns)
  11. Paul Ruffner (Chicago Bulls)
  12. Joe DePre (Phoenix Suns)
  13. Earnie Killum (Los Angeles Lakers)
  14. Dan Hester (Atlanta Hawks)
  15. Ken Warzynski (Detroit Pistons)
  16. Bill Zopf (Milwaukee Bucks)
  17. Howie Wright (New York Knicks)


  1. Curtis Perry (SDR)
  2. Earle Higgins (SFW)
  3. Bob St. Pierre (DET)
  4. Willie Williams (BOS)
  5. Greg Hyder (CIN)
  6. Gar Heard (SEA)
  7. Surry Oliver (CLE)
  8. Bill Cain (POR)
  9. Chip Case (BUF)
  10. Greg McDivitt (PHO)
  11. Lou Herndon (CHI)
  12. Dennis Awtrey (PHI)
  13. Jim Hayes (DET)
  14. Vann Williford (PHO)
  15. Seabern Hill (BAL)
  16. Marv Winkler (MIL)
  17. Al Williams (NYK)


  1. Jody Finney (SDR)
  2. Ralph Ogden (SFW)
  3. Bill Stricker (BAL)
  4. Jon McKinney (BOS)
  5. Wade Fuller (CIN)
  6. John Davis (CHI)
  7. Erwin Polnick (BUF)
  8. Jim Penix (POR)
  9. Glenn Vidnovic (CLE)
  10. Bob Lienhard (PHO)
  11. Jim Wilson (CHI)
  12. Dan Crenshaw (PHI)
  13. Larry Mikan (LAL)
  14. Fred Davis (ATL)
  15. Billy Jones (BAL)
  16. Virgle Fredrick (MIL)
  17. John Marren (NYK)


  1. James Gilbert (SDR)
  2. Levi Fontaine (SFW)
  3. Bill Jankans (DET)
  4. Tom Carter (BOS)
  5. Uluss Thompson (CIN)
  6. Boyd Lynch (SEA)
  7. Wayne Sokolowski (CLE)
  8. Ron Knight (POR)
  9. Robert Moore (BUF)
  10. John Canine (PHO)
  11. George Johnson (CHI)
  12. Perry Wallace (PHI)
  13. John Fultz (LAL)
  14. Bob Riley (ATL)
  15. Gary Zeller (BAL)
  16. Mike Grosso (MIL)
  17. Jim Oxley (NYK)


  1. Mike Kretzer (SDR)
  2. Vic Bartolome (SFW)
  3. Sevira Brown (DET)
  4. Rod McIntyre (BOS)
  5. Charles Bishop (CIN)
  6. Samuel Robinson (SEA)
  7. Doug Hess (BUF)
  8. George Janky (POR)
  9. Joe Cooke (CLE)
  10. Joe Thomas (PHO)
  11. Lonnie Kluttz (CHI)
  12. Jerry Venable (PHI)
  13. Jerry Kroll (LAL)
  14. Dave Parker (ATL)
  15. Marvin Polnick (BAL)
  16. Willie Watson (MIL)
  17. Jim Signorile (NYK)


  1. Billy Paultz (SDR)
  2. Joe Bergman (SFW)
  3. Marv Copeland (DET)
  4. Charlie Scott (BOS)
  5. Mike Bernard (CIN)
  6. James Morgan (SEA)
  7. Narvis Anderson (CLE)
  8. Claude English (POR)
  9. Cliff Shegogg (BUF)
  10. Heyward Dotson (PHO)
  11. Lou West (CHI)
  12. Carlton Poole (PHI)
  13. Willie Woods (LAL)
  14. John Shinall (ATL)
  15. Charlie Wallace (BAL)
  16. John Rinka (MIL)
  17. Ray Hodge (NYK)


  1. Don Adams (SDR)
  2. Jeff Sewell (SFW)
  3. Dan Issel (DET)
  4. Bobby Croft (BOS)
  5. Joe McBride (CIN)
  6. George Irvine (SEA)
  7. Larry Woods (BUF)
  8. Doug Boyd (POR)
  9. Walter Robertson (CLE)
  10. Steve Patterson (PHO)
  11. Mike Casey (CHI)
  12. Fran O’Hanlon (PHI)
  13. Rick Mount (LAL)
  14. Herb White (ATL)
  15. Tom Dykstra (BAL)
  16. Jim Sarno (MIL)
  17. Greg Fillmore (NYK)


  1. Jim Gottschall (SDR)
  2. Lou Small (SFW)
  3. Alex Winn (DET)
  4. Tom Little (BOS)
  5. Bob Mabry (CIN)
  6. Claude Virden (SEA)
  7. Tom Lagodich (CLE)
  8. Billy Gaskins (POR)
  9. Larry Duckworth (BUF)
  10. Carl Ashley (PHO)
  11. Glen Johnson (CHI)
  12. Mike Hauer (PHI)
  13. Bobby Sands (LAL)
  14. Larry Jackson (ATL)
  15. Will Hetzel (BAL)
  16. Joe Hamilton (MIL)
  17. Walker Banks (NYK)


  1. Toke Coleman (SDR)
  2. Coby Dietrick (SFW)
  3. Bruce Chapman (DET)
  4. Mike Maloy (BOS)
  5. Carl Johnson (CIN)
  6. Chuck Lloyd (SEA)
  7. Joe Taylor (BUF)
  8. Israel Oliver (POR)
  9. Ken Johnson (CLE)
  10. Gerhard Schreur (PHO)
  11. Dale Blaut (CHI)
  12. Gordon Stiles (PHI)
  13. Kindell Stephens (LAL)
  14. Manuel Raga (ATL)
  15. Ron Becker (BAL)
  16. Bob Seemer (MIL)
  17. Don Curnutt (NYK)


  1. Ron Belton (SDR)
  2. Rick Anheuser (DET)
  3. Ted Hillary (CIN)
  4. Andy Owens (SEA)
  5. Dave Schneider (CLE)
  6. Dan McLemore (POR)
  7. Dick Walker (BUF)
  8. Jim Walls (PHO)
  9. Doug Howard (CHI)
  10. David Whitley (PHI)
  11. Bob Dukiet (LAL)
  12. Deno Mengham (ATL)
  13. Mel Bell (BAL)


  1. Jim Brooks (SDR)
  2. Don Ogletree (DET)
  3. Reggie Roach (CIN)
  4. Joe Brunson (SEA)
  5. Paul Adams (POR)
  6. Oliver Taylor (CLE)
  7. Ric Cobb (PHO)
  8. Booker Brown (CHI)
  9. Dewey Varner (LAL)
  10. Ben McGilmer (BAL)


  1. Harry Lozon (SDR)
  2. Ernest Hardy (DET)
  3. Larry Gray (CIN)
  4. Allen McManus (SEA)
  5. Kevin Wilson (CLE)
  6. Alex Boyd (POR)
  7. Fred Carpenter (PHO)
  8. Charles Bloodworth (CHI)
  9. Gary Elliot (LAL)
  10. Don Debardelaben (BAL)


  1. Clyde Oatis (SDR)
  2. Randy Smith (DET)
  3. Andy Jennings (CIN)
  4. Dan Beeson (SEA)
  5. Frank Lothridge (POR)
  6. Don Tomilson (CLE)
  7. Chad Calabria (PHO)
  8. Paul Funkhouser (CHI)
  9. Ron Sanford (LAL)
  10. Mike Williams (BAL)


  1. Jay Bond (SDR)
  2. Denis Clark (DET)
  3. Mike Neer (CIN)
  4. Steve Wannamaker (SEA)
  5. Wayne Canaday (POR)
  6. Walt Williams (PHO)
  7. Paul Otay (CHI)
  8. Will Teague (LAL)
  9. Ted Rose (BAL)


  1. Dean Elofson (SDR)
  2. Harvey Marlatt (DET)
  3. Paul Favorite (CIN)
  4. Doug Williams (POR)
  5. Stephen Wilson (CLE)
  6. Pete Walthour (LAL)
  7. Don Rather (BAL)


  1. Dennis Dickens (SDR)
  2. Rich Peterson (CLE)
  3. Bob Thati (LAL)
  4. Vince Fritz (BAL)


  1. Jeff Cunningham (SDR)
  2. Bruce Butchko (POR)
  3. Emmanuel Cannon (CLE)


  1. Rick Erickson (SDR)
  2. Allen Waller (CLE)
  3. Mark Gabriel (POR)

Who were the 3 Best Players from the 1970 NBA Draft?

Pete Maravich

After being selected 3rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks, Pete Maravich quickly burst onto the scene as one of the most electrifying offensive players in the NBA. For his first 8 seasons in the NBA, Maravich was arguably the best guard in the NBA, although he would only make the playoffs 4 times in his career and win just 1 playoff series.

Maravich’s career was ultimately cut short due to knee problems, forcing him to retire after 10 seasons in the NBA. Maravich averaged 24.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.2 RPG, and shot 82% from the free-throw line during his career. He was named to the All-NBA 1st Team twice, was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team twice, and was named to 5 all-star games.

Pistol Pete was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and was named a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Maravich was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Dave Cowens

Dave Cowens was selected with the 4th pick by the Boston Celtics and immediately became one of the best centers in the NBA during the 1970s. He became famous for his constant intensity and hustle on both ends of the court that never faltered at any point during his career.

Cowens bridged the gap for the Celtics between their more famous 60s and 80s teams, helping the Celtics to win 2 championships during the 1970s. He averaged 17.6 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, and shot 78.3% from the free-throw line.

Cowens was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team 3 times, was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team once, was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team twice, and was named to 8 all-star games. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Cowens was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Nate Archibald

Nate Archibald was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2nd round and completely overachieved his relatively modest draft status. He became the best point guard in the NBA during the early 70s, famously leading the league in both points and assists during the 1972-1973 season.

Archibald’s 1972-1973 season is regarded as one of the best individual seasons in NBA history and saw him average 34 PPG and 11.4 APG, all while shooting 84.7% from the free-throw line and playing an incredible 46 minutes per game. Later in his career, Archibald would play for the Boston Celtics and would win a championship with them during the 1980-1981 season.

Archibald averaged 18.8 PPG, 7.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, and shot 81% from the free-throw line during his career. He was named to the All-NBA 1st Team 3 times, was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team 2 times, and was named to 6 all-star games. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Archibald was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Other Standouts from the 1970 NBA Draft

Bob Lanier

Although he was the #1 overall pick and ended up having a great career at the center position, Bob Lanier was one of the most underrated and underappreciated players in the NBA. He was overshadowed by many other centers during the 70s, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens, Wes Unseld, and Bill Walton. He averaged 20.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, and shot 51.4% from the field, and was named to 8 all-star games. Lanier was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Rudy Tomjanovich

While he is better known for his coaching days where he guided the Rockets to their only 2 championships in franchise history, Rudy Tomjanovich also had a successful playing career for the Rockets after being selected #2 overall in the draft. He averaged 17.4 PPG and 8.1 RPG over his career, mostly at the power forward position, and also shot 50.1% from the field and 78.4% from the free-throw line. Tomjanovich was also named to 5 all-star games during his 11-year NBA career.

Sam Lacey

Sam Lacey was taken with the 5th overall selection and had a good career as a starting center, though not nearly reaching the heights of Cowens or Lanier. He was a part of one of the most successful drafts in the history of the Cincinnati Royals franchise, which saw them select future hall of fame inductee Nate Archibald in the next round. He averaged 10.3 PPG and 9.7 RPG over his career and was named to one all-star game during the 1974-1975 season.

John Johnson

John Johnson was selected with the #7 pick by the historically incompetent Cleveland Cavaliers franchise and would be one of the few bright spots for the team during the 3 years he spent with the team. He averaged 12.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 3.8 APG during his playing days, while also shooting 77.9% from the free-throw line. Johnson was named to 2 all-star games, both during his time with the Cavaliers.

Geoff Petrie

Geoff Petrie was the first draft pick in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers at the #8 pick and would end up having a successful career with the team at shooting guard. Unfortunately, a serious knee injury ended his career after just 6 seasons in the NBA. Petrie averaged 21.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, and shot 80.5% from the free-throw line during his career, all while being named to 2 all-star games.

Calvin Murphy

Standing at just 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and being selected with the #18 pick in the 2nd round by the Houston Rockets, point guard Calvin Murphy was not expected to make a major impact in the NBA. However, he was able to average 17.9 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 1.5 SPG over a successful 13-year career, and also shoot an incredible 89.2% from the free-throw line. Murphy was named to 1 all-star game during the 1978-1979 season and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Charlie Scott

Although he was selected by the Boston Celtics in the 7th round, Charlie Scott had already signed a contract with the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association and would spend the early part of his career in the ABA. He would eventually join the NBA and averaged 20.7 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4 RPG, and 1.3 SPG at both the point guard and shooting guard positions during his playing days. He was named to 3 NBA and 2 ABA all-star games over his career and was also named to the All-ABA 1st Team and All-ABA 2nd Team one time each. Scott was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Dan Issel

Dan Issel was taken in the 1st round of the ABA draft by the Kentucky Colonels and the 8th round of the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He would opt to play in the ABA until the league folded in 1976 and would then spend several more years in the NBA. He averaged 22.6 PPG and 9.1 RPG for his career, playing both the center and power forward positions. He was named to the All-ABA 1st Team once, was named to the All-ABA 2nd Team 4 times, was named to 6 ABA all-star games, and was named to 1 NBA all-star game. Issel was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Randy Smith

Despite being selected in the 14th round of the draft by the Buffalo Braves, Randy Smith would prove to be one of the biggest overachievers in NBA history, posting a very successful NBA career. Smith averaged 16.7 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.7 SPG during his career at the shooting guard position. He was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team once and was named to 2 all-star games.

One Of The Best Drafts Ever

The 1970 NBA draft was one of the best drafts in league history, producing a significant number of hall of fame players. The draft class boasted both significant top-line talent and strong overall depth, providing a significant boost to both the NBA and ABA for years to come. Its lack of recognition probably arises from the fact that it occurred over 50 years ago and opened the decade of the 70s, which was a low point for the NBA in terms of popularity.