The 1980 NBA Draft: Revisiting The Best Players From This Class

Kevin McHale kneeling in front of 1980 NBA draft board

The 1980 NBA draft was the 34th in league history since its establishment during the 1946-1947 season. The Golden State Warriors, a historically successful franchise that had recently fallen on hard times, received the #1 pick in a trade with the Boston Celtics after originally being awarded the #3 pick. The 1980 NBA draft consisted of 10 rounds, with the high number of rounds being characteristic of the draft during this era.

The 1980 NBA Draft Class

The 1980 NBA draft was a very weak draft, producing very few successful NBA players. Only 5 players from the 1980 draft class were named to an all-star team and only 1 was named to an All-NBA team. The top 2 picks of the draft ended up having disappointing careers relative to their draft status, combining for a total of 1 all-star game appearance and no All-NBA selections. One of the few bright spots of the draft was #3 pick Kevin McHale, who would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Who was the number one pick in the NBA draft in 1980?

Joe Barry Carroll was the 1st overall pick in the draft by the Golden State Warriors and was viewed as the next great center for the Warrior franchise. The Golden State Warriors had such high expectations for Carroll, that they traded their current starting center Robert Parish, a future hall of famer, to the Boston Celtics along with the #3 pick, in exchange for the Celtics’ #1 pick to get Carroll.

Carroll’s first 2 seasons in the NBA were good, not great, and failed to justify his #1 draft status. Carroll did have a breakout season during his 3rd year in the league, averaging 24.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 2 BPG. However, this would be the high point of his career, as Carroll would never develop into the dominant franchise-changing center the Warriors hoped he would be.

Although Carroll was a talented offensive player, he was a below-average rebounder for his size and failed to establish himself as an effective defensive presence. Carroll averaged 17.7 PPG and 7.7 RPG for his career and was named to 1 all-star team.

The NBA Draft 1980 Picks


  1. Joe Barry Carroll (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Darrell Griffith (Utah Jazz)
  3. Kevin McHale (Boston Celtics)
  4. Kelvin Ramsey (Chicago Bulls)
  5. James Ray (Denver Nuggets)
  6. Mike O’Koren (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Mike Gminski (New Jersey Nets)
  8. Andrew Toney (Philadelphia 76ers)
  9. Michael Brooks (San Diego Clippers)
  10. Ronnie Lester (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Kiki Vandeweghe (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Mike Woodson (New York Knicks)
  13. Rickey Brown (Golden State Warriors)
  14. Wes Matthews (Washinton Bullets)
  15. Reggie Johnson (San Antonio Spurs)
  16. Hawkeye Whitney (Kansas City Kings)
  17. Larry Drew (Detroit Pistons)
  18. Don Collins (Atlanta Hawks)
  19. John Duren (Utah Jazz)
  20. Bill Hanzlik (Seattle SuperSonics)
  21. Monti Davis (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Chad Kinch (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  23. Car Nicks (Denver Nuggets)


  1. Larry Smith (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Jeff Ruland (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Sam Worthen (Chicago Bulls)
  4. John Stroud (Houston Rockets)
  5. Craig Shelton (Atlanta Hawks)
  6. Louis Orr (Indiana Pacers)
  7. Kenny Natt (Indiana Pacers)
  8. Wayne Robinson (Los Angeles Lakers)
  9. David Lawrence (Portland Trail Blazers)
  10. Bruce Collins (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Roosevelt Bouie (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Rick Mahorn (Washinton Bullets)
  13. DeWayne Scales (New York Knicks)
  14. Butch Carter (Los Angeles Lakers)
  15. Terry Stotts (Houston Rockets)
  16. Michael Wiley (San Antonio Spurs)
  17. Dick Miller (Indiana Pacers)
  18. Jawann Oldham (Denver Nuggets)
  19. Kimberly Belton (Phoenix Suns)
  20. Billy Williams (Houston Rockets)
  21. Clyde Austin (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Brad Branson (Detroit Pistons)
  23. Arnette Hallman (Boston Celtics)

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  1. Kurt Nimphius (Denver Nuggets)
  2. Eddie Lee (Denver Nuggets)
  3. John Virgil (Golden State Warriors)
  4. James Wilkes (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Ronnie Valentine (Denver Nuggets)
  6. Lowes Moore (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Stuart House (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  8. Ron Perry (Boston Celtics)
  9. Wayne Abrams (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  10. Mike Harper (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Dave Britton (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Kurt Rambis (New York Knicks)
  13. John Campbell (Phoenix Suns)
  14. LaVon Mercer (San Antonio Spurs)
  15. Rich Yonakor (San Antonio Spurs)
  16. Tony Murphy (Kansas City Kings)
  17. Al Beal (Milwaukee Bucks)
  18. Jonathan Moore (Detroit Pistons)
  19. Doug True (Phoenix Suns)
  20. Carl Bailey (Seattle SuperSonics)
  21. Reggie Gaines (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Ron Jones (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  23. Don Newman (Boston Celtics)


  1. Darwin Cook (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Robert Scott (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Alan Taylor (Utah Jazz)
  4. Sammie Ellis (Denver Nuggets)
  5. Ron Charles (Chicago Bulls)
  6. Rory Sparrow (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Ed Odom (San Diego Clippers)
  8. Murray Brown (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  9. Rich Branning (Indiana Pacers)
  10. Kevlin Henderson (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. David Johnson (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Francois Wise (Washinton Bullets)
  13. Joe Chrnelich (New York Knicks)
  14. Calvin Roberts (San Antonio Spurs)
  15. Dean Hunger (Houston Rockets)
  16. Billy Bryant (Philadelphia 76ers)
  17. Jeff Wolf (Milwaukee Bucks)
  18. Tony Jackson (Los Angeles Lakers)
  19. Leroy Stampley (Phoenix Suns)
  20. Gary Ray Hooker (Seattle SuperSonics)
  21. Harold Hubbard (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Ron Baxter (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Kevin Hamilton (Boston Celtics)


  1. Tony Fuller (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Wally West (Utah Jazz)
  3. Don Carfino (Golden State Warriors)
  4. Mike Campbell (Chicago Bulls)
  5. James Patrick (Denver Nuggets)
  6. Aaron Curry (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Wally Rank (San Diego Clippers)
  8. Joe Galvin (Indiana Pacers)
  9. LaVon Williams (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  10. Larry Belin (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Darrell Allums (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. William Carey (New York Knicks)
  13. Daryl Strickland (Washinton Bullets)
  14. Albert Jones (Houston Rockets)
  15. Gib Hinz (San Antonio Spurs)
  16. Kelvin Blakely (Kansas City Kings)
  17. Ken Jones (Milwaukee Bucks)
  18. Mike Doyle (Atlanta Hawks)
  19. Mark Stevens (Phoenix Suns)
  20. Lenny Horton (Seattle SuperSonics)
  21. Jim Swaney (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Rick Raivio (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Rufus Harris (Boston Celtics)


  1. Tony Turner (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Neil Bresnahan (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Kenny Cunningham (Utah Jazz)
  4. Ernie Hill (Denver Nuggets)
  5. Bernard Rencher (Chicago Bulls)
  6. Rick Mattick (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Londale Theus (San Diego Clippers)
  8. Antonio Martin (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  9. Randy Owens (Indiana Pacers)
  10. Perry Mirkovich (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Leroy Jackson (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Ken Dancy (Washington Bullets)
  13. Kelvin Hicks (New York Knicks)
  14. Dean Uthoff (San Antonio Spurs)
  15. Everette Jefferson (Houston Rockets)
  16. Trent Grooms (Kansas City Kings)
  17. Alex Gilbert (Milwaukee Bucks)
  18. Mike Zagardo (Atlanta Hawks)
  19. Coby Leavitt (Phoenix Suns)
  20. Jim Strickland (Seattle SuperSonics)
  21. Donald Cooper (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Otis Boddie (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Kenny Evans (Boston Celtics)

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  1. Carl Pierce (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Dave Colescott (Utah Jazz)
  3. Lorenzo Romar (Golden State Warriors)
  4. Robert Byrd (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Tommy Springer (Denver Nuggets)
  6. Larry Spicer (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Paul Anderson (San Diego Clippers)
  8. Charles Naddaff (Indiana Pacers)
  9. Leroy Berry (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  10. Gig Sims (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Tony Forch (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Bobby Turner (New York Knicks)
  13. Karl Godine (Washinton Bullets)
  14. Joe Nehls (Houston Rockets)
  15. Alan Zahn (San Antonio Spurs)
  16. Arnold McDowell (Kansas City Kings)
  17. Ron White (Milwaukee Bucks)
  18. Charles Hightower (Atlanta Hawks)
  19. Ron Williams (Phoenix Suns)
  20. Carl Ervin (Seattle SuperSonics)
  21. Richard Smith (Philadelphia 76ers)
  22. Les Henson (Boston Celtics)


  1. Leroy Loggins (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Kurt Kanaskie (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Jim Brandon (Utah Jazz)
  4. Modzel Greer (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Lloyd Terry (New Jersey Nets)
  6. Jim Ellinghausen (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  7. Steve Stielper (Indiana Pacers)
  8. John Stroeder (Portland Trail Blazers)
  9. Clarence Kea (Dallas Mavericks)
  10. Rich Valavicius (Washington Bullets)
  11. James Salters (New York Knicks)
  12. Bill Bailey (San Antonio Spurs)
  13. Rosie Barnes (Houston Rockets)
  14. Keith Valentine (Milwaukee Bucks)
  15. Jim Connoly (Phoenix Suns)
  16. Al Dutch (Seatle SuperSonics)
  17. Martin Lemelle (Philadelphia 76ers)
  18. Melvin Hooker (Los Angeles Lakers)
  19. Steve Wright (Boston Celtics)


  1. Terry DuPris (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Paul Renfro (Utah Jazz)
  3. Billy Reid (Golden State Warriors)
  4. Jay Shidler (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Jim Graziano (Denver Nuggets)
  6. Barry Young (New Jersey Nets)
  7. Scott Rogers (Indiana Pacers)
  8. Melvin Crafter (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  9. Rick Boucher (Portland Trail Blazers)
  10. Ken Williams (Dallas Mavericks)
  11. Don Wiley (New York Knicks)
  12. Clinton Wyatt (Washinton Bullets)
  13. Al Williams (San Antonio Spurs)
  14. Charley Cole (Kansas City Kings)
  15. Del Yarbrough (Milwaukee Bucks)
  16. Stanley Lamb (Atlanta Hawks)
  17. Keith French (Phoenix Suns)
  18. Jim Tillman (Seatle SuperSonics)
  19. Luke Griffin (Philadelphia 76ers)
  20. Brian Jung (Boston Celtics)


  1. Tim Higgins (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Leroy Coleman (Utah Jazz)
  3. Earl Sango (Denver Nuggets)
  4. Billy Foster (Chicago Bulls)
  5. John Bates (Indiana Pacers)
  6. Dave Kufeld (Portland Trail Blazers)
  7. Tom Morgan (Dallas Mavericks)
  8. Don Youman (Washington Bullets)
  9. Gerard Ross (New York Knicks)
  10. Steve Schall (San Antonio Spurs)
  11. Melvin Crayton (Milwaukee Bucks)
  12. Randy Carroll (Phoenix Suns)
  13. Kent Williams (Seattle SuperSonics)
  14. Joe Hand (Philadelphia 76ers)
  15. John Nolan (Boston Celtics)

Who was the Best Player in the 1980 Draft?

1980 NBA Draft 3rd overall pick Kevin McHale.

Kevin McHale was the best player to come out of the 1980 draft class. After being selected with the 3rd overall pick in the draft by the Boston Celtics, Kevin McHale developed into a dominant post presence at the power forward position.

After initially serving as a reserve the first few years of his career behind forwards Larry Bird and Cedric Maxwell, McHale joined the Celtics’ starting lineup and helped create one of the most dominant front courts in NBA history along with Bird and Robert Parish.

His long arms and sturdy frame made him almost impossible for other power forwards to defend, and his quickness and versatility in the post made him a difficult matchup for centers as well. McHale was by far the best player in the 1980 NBA draft, being named to 7 all-star teams, the All-NBA 1st team once, the All-Defensive 1st Team 3 times, and the All-Defensive 2nd Team 3 times.

McHale was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996 and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021. He won 3 championships with the Boston Celtics and averaged 17.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 1.7 BPG. McHale was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Who won Rookie of the Year?

Darrell Griffith, the 1980 NBA Draft rookie of the year.

Darrell Griffith won the 1980-1981 NBA Rookie of the Year award. After being selected #2 overall by the Utah Jazz, shooting guard Darrell Griffith won rookie of the year with a very good individual season. Although the Jazz would improve by only 4 games with Griffith on the team, he compiled impressive individual statistics, averaging 20.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.3 SPG. Griffith represented the first home-grown star the Jazz had been able to acquire through the draft and would go on to spend 11 seasons with the franchise.

The Other Notable Players From This Class

Andrew Toney

Andrew Toney was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 8th pick in the draft, and quickly developed into a good starting shooting guard. He averaged 17.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, and shot 50.8% from the field during his first 5 seasons and was named an all-star 2 different times during this span. However, chronic foot injuries began to take their toll on Toney after his 5th season, preventing him from ever playing again at a high level and forcing his retirement after just 8 seasons.

Kiki Vandeweghe

1980 NBA Draft pick Kiki Vandeweghe

After being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 11th overall selection in the draft, Kiki Vandeweghe was traded to Denver before the start of the season after refusing to play for the Mavericks. Vandeweghe developed into a great offensive player, playing both the small forward and power forward positions and averaging 19.7 PPG for his career. He shot 52.5% from the field, 87.2% from the free-throw line, and was named an all-star 2 different times.

Jeff Ruland

Jeff Ruland was drafted 25th overall by the Golden State Warriors then traded to the Washington Bullets, where he would spend the majority of his career. He averaged 17.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 3 APG, and was named to the all-star team 2 different times. Ruland began to be plagued by injuries after his 3rd season and soon had to retire, although he would make a brief comeback from retirement and play 24 games over 2 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons.

The Kevin McHale Draft Class

The 1980 NBA draft was a disappointing draft, as most players in the draft class either underachieved or failed to make a major impact in the NBA. It produced a pedestrian 14 total all-star appearances among the draft class, and only 1 player made an All-NBA team. Kevin McHale was the lone bright spot for the 1980 NBA draft, crafting a magnificent career with the Boston Celtics.