The 1982 NBA Draft: Is It Time to Talk More About This Class?

Image of Dominique Wilkins and James Worthy positioned in front of a 1982 NBA Draft Banner

The 1982 NBA draft was the 36th in league history since its beginning during the 1946-1947 inaugural season. The Los Angeles Lakers were awarded the first overall pick in a coin flip, allowing them to further improve their elite roster. Much of the drama surrounding the 1982 NBA draft centered around the decision of Ralph Sampson to return to college for his senior season at the University of Virginia, opting out of the draft.

The 1982 NBA Draft

The 1982 NBA draft was an average draft, not reaching the incredible heights of the 1984 and 1985 drafts soon following it, but still producing a decent number of successful NBA players. Unlike most drafts of the 1980s, the top 3 picks of the draft did not contain any “busts”, as all 3 players would end up having successful careers.

The 1982 NBA draft class contained 7 players who made at least 1 all-star team, 4 players who were named to at least 1 All-NBA Team, and 2 players who were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Who won Rookie of the Year?

Terry Cummings won the Rookie of the Year for the NBA during the 1982-1983 season after putting together an impressive statistical rookie season with the San Diego Clippers. Cummings averaged 23.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, and shot 52.3% from the field, helping the Clippers to amass a modest 8-win improvement over the previous season.

The Clippers probably would have won even more games, but Cummings missed the final 2 weeks of the season with an irregular heartbeat issue.

Who was drafted in the 1982 NBA draft?


  1. James Worthy (Los Angeles Lakers)
  2. Terry Cummings (San Diego Clippers)
  3. Dominique Wilkins (Utah Jazz)
  4. Bill Garnett (Dallas Mavericks)
  5. LaSalle Thompson (Kansas City Kings)
  6. Trent Tucker (New York Knicks)
  7. Quintin Dailey (Chicago Bulls)
  8. Clark Kellogg (Indiana Pacers)
  9. Cliff Levingston (Detroit Pistons)
  10. Keith Edmonson (Atlanta Hawks)
  11. Fat Lever (Portland Trail Blazers)
  12. John Bagley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  13. Sleepy Floyd (New Jersey Nets)
  14. Lester Conner (Golden State Warriors)
  15. David Thirdkill (Phoenix Suns)
  16. Terry Teagle (Houston Rockets)
  17. Brook Steppe (Kansas City Kings)
  18. Ricky Pierce (Detroit Pistons)
  19. Rob Williams (Denver Nuggets)
  20. Paul Pressey (Milwaukee Bucks)
  21. Eddie Phillips (New Jersey Nets)
  22. Mark McNamara (Philadelphia 76ers)
  23. Darren Tillis (Boston Celtics)


  1. Oliver Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)
  2. Bryan Warrick (Washington Bullets)
  3. Ricky Frazier (Chicago Bulls)
  4. Fred Roberts (Milwaukee Bucks)
  5. Dave Magley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  6. Scott Hastings (New York Knicks)
  7. Wallace Bryant (Chicago Bulls)
  8. Rod Higgins (Chicago Bulls)
  9. Richard Anderson (San Deigo Clippers)
  10. Linton Townes (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. Vince Taylor (New York Knicks)
  12. Derek Smith (Golden State Warriors)
  13. J.J. Anderson (Philadelphia 76ers)
  14. Audie Norris (Portland Trail Blazers)
  15. Wayne Sappleton (Golden State Warriors)
  16. Kevin Magee (Phoenix Suns)
  17. Guy Morgan (Indiana Pacers)
  18. Dwight Anderson (Washington Bullets)
  19. Jeff Taylor (Houston Rockets)
  20. Jose Slaughter (Indiana Pacers)
  21. Mike Gibson (Washington Bullets)
  22. Russ Schoene (Philadelphia 76ers)
  23. Tony Guy (Boston Celtics)


  1. Michael Wilson (CLE)
  2. Craig Hodges (SDC)
  3. Steve Trumbo (UTA)
  4. Corny Thompson (DAL)
  5. Jim Johnstone (KCK)
  6. Dan Caldwell (NYK)
  7. Tyrone Adams (CHI)
  8. Hutch Jones (LAL)
  9. Jerry Eaves (UTA)
  10. Joe Kopicki (ATL)
  11. Craig Tucker (NYK)
  12. Mike Largey (WSB)
  13. Jimmy Black (NJN)
  14. Chris Engler (GSW)
  15. Charles Pittman (PHO)
  16. Roylin Bond (DEN)
  17. Chuck Nevitt (HOU)
  18. Willie Redden (SAS)
  19. John Greig (SEA)
  20. Phillip Lockett (POR)
  21. Mike Hackett (LAL)
  22. Dale Solomon (PHI)
  23. Perry Moss (BOS)


  1. Reggie Hannah (CLE)
  2. Darius Clemons (SDC)
  3. Mark Eaton (UTA)
  4. Rudy Woods (DAL)
  5. Mike Sanders (KCK)
  6. Norm Anchrum (NYK)
  7. Chuck Aleksinas (CHI)
  8. Jeff Jones (IND)
  9. Walker Russell (DET)
  10. Eric Smith (POR)
  11. James Griffin (NJN)
  12. Dino Gregory (WSB)
  13. Tony Brown (NJN)
  14. Ken Stancell (GSW)
  15. Alford Turner (DEN)
  16. Andre Gaddy (HOU)
  17. Rory White (PHO)
  18. Tony Grier (SAS)
  19. Ken Owens (SEA)
  20. Jerry Beck (MIL)
  21. Craig McCormick (LAL)
  22. Bruce Atkins (PHI)
  23. Greg Stewart (BOS)


  1. Terry White (CLE)
  2. Gary Carter (SDC)
  3. Mike McKay (UTA)
  4. Kenny Arnold (DAL)
  5. Kenny Simpson (KCK)
  6. Aaron Howard (NYK)
  7. Rubin Jackson (CHI)
  8. Rich DiBenedetto (IND)
  9. John Ebeling (DET)
  10. Mark Hall (ATL)
  11. Cherokee Rhone (POR)
  12. Clarence Dickerson (WSB)
  13. Chris Giles (NJN)
  14. Albert Irving (GSW)
  15. Jeff Schneider (HOU)
  16. Marvin McCrary (PHO)
  17. Bill Duffy (DEN)
  18. Clarence Swannegan (SAS)
  19. Rod Camp (SEA)
  20. Jerry Davis (WSB)
  21. Howard McNeill (LAL)
  22. Donald Mason (PHI)
  23. William Brown (BOS)


  1. Vince Reynolds (CLE)
  2. Eric Marbury (SDC)
  3. Alvin Jackson (UTA)
  4. Wayne Waggoner (DAL)
  5. Poncho Wright (KCK)
  6. Mike Kanieski (NYK)
  7. B. B. Fontenet (CHI)
  8. Jeff Clark (IND)
  9. Gary Holmes (DET)
  10. Leo Cunningham (POR)
  11. Jay Bruchak (ATL)
  12. Byron Williams (WSB)
  13. Mel Daniel (NJN)
  14. David Vann (GSW)
  15. Jake Bethany (PHO)
  16. Chris Brust (DEN)
  17. Don Wilson (HOU)
  18. Jaime Pena (SAS)
  19. Bobby Potts (SEA)
  20. Tony Carr (MIL)
  21. Lynden Rose (LAL)
  22. Kevin Boyle (PHI)
  23. John Schweitz (BOS)


  1. Randy Reed (CLE)
  2. Eddie Hughes (SDC)
  3. Thad Garner (UTA)
  4. Bob Grady (DAL)
  5. Perry Range (KCK)
  6. Phil Seymore (NYK)
  7. Chuck Verderber (CHI)
  8. Brad Leaf (IND)
  9. Dean Marquardt (DET)
  10. Horace Wyatt (ATL)
  11. Terry Long (POR)
  12. Wendell Gibson (WSB)
  13. Tony Anderson (NJN)
  14. Matt Waldron (GSW)
  15. Jeb Barlow (DEN)
  16. Mike Helms (HOU)
  17. Phil Ward (PHO)
  18. Delonte Taylor (SAS)
  19. Allen Rayhorn (SEA)
  20. Bobby Austin (MIL)
  21. Maurice Williams (LAL)
  22. Keith Hilliard (PHI)
  23. Phil Collins (BOS)


  1. Monty Knight (CLE)
  2. Jacques Tuz (SDC)
  3. Rick Campbell (UTA)
  4. Keith Peterson (DAL)
  5. Ed Nealy (KCK)
  6. Dan Terwilliger (NYK)
  7. Mike Burns (CHI)
  8. Donald Reese (IND)
  9. Brian Nyenhuis (DET)
  10. Dave Porter (POR)
  11. James Ratiff (ATL)
  12. Ken Luck (WSB)
  13. Otis Jackson (NJN)
  14. Mark King (GSW)
  15. Dan Callandrillo (HOU)
  16. Rick Elrod (PHO)
  17. Donnie Speer (DEN)
  18. Chris Faggi (SAS)
  19. Steve Burks (SEA)
  20. Bryan Leonard (MIL)
  21. Micah Blunt (LAL)
  22. Donald Seals (PHI)
  23. Ed Spriggs (BOS)


  1. Tony Hafley (CLE)
  2. John Hegwood (SDC)
  3. Riley Clarida (UTA)
  4. Ralph McPherson (DAL)
  5. Jack Moore (KCK)
  6. Merle Scott (NYK)
  7. Skip Dillard (CHI)
  8. Mike Scearce (IND)
  9. Kevin Smith (DET)
  10. Pierre Bland (ATL)
  11. Mark Dearborn (POR)
  12. James Terry (WSB)
  13. Gary Johnson (NJN)
  14. Nick Morken (GSW)
  15. Ken Lyles (PHO)
  16. Dean Sears (DEN)
  17. Harry O’Brien (SAS)
  18. Robert Tate (MIL)
  19. Tim Byrne (LAL)
  20. George Melton (PHI)
  21. Panagiotis Giannakis (BOS)


  1. Durand Walker (CLE)
  2. Daryl Stovall (SDC)
  3. Michael Edwards (UTA)
  4. Albert Culton (DAL)
  5. Robert Estes (KCK)
  6. John Leonard (NYK)
  7. Tony Britto (CHI)
  8. Craig Summers (IND)
  9. David Coulthard (DET)
  10. Grant Taylor (POR)
  11. Ronnie McAdoo (ATL)
  12. Donald Sinclair (WSB)
  13. Sean Tuohy (NJN)
  14. Randy Whieldon (GSW)
  15. Mike Phillips (DEN)
  16. Dale Wilkinson (PHO)
  17. Keith White (SAS)
  18. Bob Coenen (MIL)
  19. Randy Burkert (PHI)
  20. Landon Turner (BOS)

Who was the Best Player in the 1982 NBA Draft?

Dominique Wilkins

After his selection with the 3rd overall pick by the Utah Jazz, Dominique Wilkins established himself as the best player of the 1982 NBA draft picks at the small forward position.

In one of the worst trades in NBA history that would end up being one of the lasting legacies of the ’82 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz would trade the draft rights of Wilkins to the Atlanta Hawks, where he would spend most of his career.

Nicknamed the “Human Highlight Film”, Wilkins possessed freakish athleticism and would become one of the best dunkers in NBA history. He averaged 24.8 PPG, 6,7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, and shot 81.1% from the free-throw line over his career.

Wilkins was named to the All-NBA 1st Team once, was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team 4 times, was named to All-NBA 3rd Team twice, was named to 9 all-star teams, and was a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Wilkins was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

James Worthy

A close 2nd to Dominique Wilkins was James Worthy, the #1 overall pick of the 1982 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Worthy established himself as a premier star of the Lakers’ Showtime teams of the mid to late 80s.

As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began to age and slow down as the 80s progressed, Worthy became the Lakers’ 2nd best player. Nicknamed “Big Game James”, Worthy would play his best basketball in the postseason, proving a matchup nightmare at the small forward position.

His most memorable performance came during the 1988 NBA Finals, where he helped lead the Lakers to a close, 7-game series win over the Detroit Pistons. Worthy was named Finals MVP and notched an impressive triple-double during the 7th and deciding game, finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Worthy averaged 17.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3 APG, 1.1 SPG, and shot 52.1% from the field over his career. He was named to the All-NBA 3rd Team twice, the all-star game 7 times, and won 3 championships with the Lakers. He was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Worthy was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2003.

How did the Los Angeles Lakers get the 1st Pick in the 1982 NBA Draft?

Although the Lakers were one of the best teams in the NBA during the 1981-1982 season, they were able to secure the #1 pick in the draft in a coin flip. The #1 pick was originally the Cleveland Cavaliers’ draft pick, which they traded to the Lakers two years earlier.

The Lakers had shown a proficiency for obtaining valuable future first-round picks, originally securing Magic Johnson in the 1979 NBA draft with the New Orleans Jazz’s original first-round pick which they had received several years earlier when they traded Gail Goodrich to the Jazz.

Notable Players from the 1982 NBA Draft

Terry Cummings

After being selected with the #2 overall pick by the San Diego Clippers, Terry Cummings quickly became one of the best young power forwards in the NBA. He put together 10 very good seasons with the Clippers, Bucks, and Spurs before a knee injury derailed his career, forcing him to a more limited role as a backup for the remainder of his career.

Cummings averaged 16.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 1.1 SPG for his career, and was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team once, was named to the All-NBA 3rd Team once, and was named to 2 all-star teams.

Fat Lever

Fat Lever was taken with the 11th pick of the draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and would develop into a very good all-around point guard. He averaged 13.9 PPG, 6.2 APG, 6 RPG, and 2.2 SPG for his career and is one of only 3 players in NBA history to amass at least 15 points, rebounds, and assists in a single playoff game.

Lever was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team once, was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team once, and was a 2-time all-star.

Sleepy Floyd

Sleepy Floyd was picked #13 overall by the New Jersey Nets and established himself as a good NBA point guard. His most memorable moment in the NBA came in game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals with the Golden State Warriors when he scored 51 points and dished out 10 assists against the Los Angeles Lakers. Floyd averaged 12.8 PPG, 5,4 APG, 1.2 SPG, and shot 81.5% from the free-throw line during his career and was named to 1 all-star team.

Ricky Pierce

Although he was selected with the 18th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons, Ricky Pierce would eventually overachieve his modest draft status. After averaging just 2.2 PPG in his first NBA season, Pierce developed into a good offensive shooting guard, serving as one of the top sixth men in the NBA during the mid-80s and early 90s. Pierce averaged 14.9 PPG for his career and shot an impressive 87.5% from the free-throw line. He was named to 1 all-star team and was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year twice.

Mark Eaton

While the 1982 NBA draft list contained several individuals who outperformed their draft status, center Mark Eaton was by far the most successful overachiever of the draft, being selected with the 72nd pick of the draft in the 4th round by the Utah Jazz.

Although he was never a great offensive player, Eaton averaged 7.9 RPG and an NBA-record 3.5 BPG over his career. He was a 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner, was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team 3 times, was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team twice, and was named to 1 all-star game.

The Addition Of James Proved To be Worthy

Overall, the 1982 NBA draft was an average draft, failing to reach the heights of the 1984 and 1985 drafts, but also avoiding the lows of the 1983 and 1986 drafts. The 1982 NBA draft results were overshadowed by the decision of Ralph Sampson to return for his senior season at the University of Virginia, stunning the basketball world who expected him to be the #1 pick.

Ultimately, the most significant result of the draft was the addition of James Worthy to the Los Angeles Lakers, who needed another young star to complement Magic Johnson and the aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Worthy would prove the decisive factor in the 1985 and 1987 finals matchups against the Celtics, as his athleticism and quickness proved extremely difficult for Celtic defenders to deal with.