1985 NBA Draft: Full of Depth And Conspiracy Theories

1985 NBA Draft: Full of Depth And Conspiracy Theories (feature image)

The 1985 NBA draft was the 39th in league history after its commencement during the 1946-1947 season. The New York Knicks were awarded the 1st overall pick after compiling the league’s 3rd worst record at 24-58. The 1985 NBA draft was the first draft that implemented a lottery system to decide the order of the early 1st round draft picks.

Hall of Famers And The Start Of A Lottery System

The 85 NBA Draft was one of the best drafts of all time, with only the 1984, 1996, and 2003 drafts surpassing it in overall success. The 1985 draft class produced 10 players who were named to at least 1 all-star game, 5 players who made at least 1 All-NBA Team, and 4 players who were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The lottery system implemented in the draft established 2 separate sections, the lottery section and the playoff section. All 1985 NBA draft lottery odds were equal, with the names of the 7 non-playoff teams each sealed in envelopes and then selected at random to determine the initial draft order. The rest of the draft order was then determined by record.

What happened in the 1985 draft?

Many NBA fans, analysts, and historians firmly believe in a 1985 NBA draft conspiracy where David Stern allegedly rigged the 1985 NBA draft lottery to ensure that the New York Knicks received the #1 pick. Stern supposedly had the Knicks envelope frozen so he could tell by feel which envelope was the Knicks. Many individuals theorized that Stern wanted the Knicks, his hometown team and the league’s top media market, to get Patrick Ewing, the best collegiate basketball star at the time.

Who was in the 1985 NBA draft class?


  1. Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)
  2. Wayman Tisdale (Indiana Pacers)
  3. Benoit Benjamin (Los Angeles Clippers)
  4. Xavier McDaniel (Seattle SuperSonics)
  5. Jon Koncak (Atlanta Hawks)
  6. Joe Kleine (Sacramento Kings)
  7. Chris Mullin (Golden State Warriors)


  1. Detlef Schrempf (Dallas Mavericks)
  2. Charles Oakley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  3. Ed Pinckney (Phoenix Suns)
  4. Keith Lee (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Kenny Green (Washington Bullets)
  6. Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)
  7. Alfredrick Hughes (San Antonio Spurs)
  8. Blair Rasmussen (Denver Nuggets)
  9. Bill Wennington (Dallas Mavericks)
  10. Uwe Blab (Dallas Mavericks)
  11. Joe Dumars (Detroit Pistons)
  12. Steve Harris (Houston Rockets)
  13. Sam Vincent (Boston Celtics)
  14. Terry Catledge (Philadelphia 76ers)
  15. Jerry Reynolds (Milwaukee Bucks)
  16. A.C. Green (Los Angeles Lakers)
  17. Terry Porter (Portland Trail Blazers)


  1. Mike Smrek (Portland Trail Blazers)
  2. Bill Martin (Indiana Pacers)
  3. Dwayne McClain (Indiana Pacers)
  4. Ken Johnson (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Mike Brittain (San Antonio Spurs)
  6. Calvin Duncan (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  7. Manute Bol (Washington Bullets)
  8. Nick Vanos (Phoenix Suns)
  9. Greg Stokes (Philadelphia 76ers)
  10. Aubrey Sherrod (Chicago Bulls)
  11. Tyrone Corbin (San Antonio Spurs)
  12. Yvon Joseph (New Jersey Nets)
  13. Carey Scurry (Utah Jazz)
  14. Fernando Martn (New Jersey Nets)
  15. George Montgomery (Portland Trail Blazers)
  16. Mark Acres (Dallas Mavericks)
  17. Lorenzo Charles (Atlanta Hawks)
  18. Bobby Lee Hurt (Golden State Warriors)
  19. Barry Stevens (Denver Nuggets)
  20. Voise Winters (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Hot Rod Williams (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  22. Adrian Branch (Chicago Bulls)
  23. Gerald Wilkins (New York Knicks)


  1. Kenny Patterson (Indiana Pacers)
  2. Brad Wright (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Leonard Allen (Dallas Mavericks)
  4. Charles Bradley (Sacramento Kings)
  5. Anicet Lavodrama (Los Angeles Clippers)
  6. Rolando Lamb (Seattle SuperSonics)
  7. Sam Mitchell (Houston Rockets)
  8. Herb Johnson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  9. Jerry Everett (Phoenix Suns)
  10. Michael Payne (Houston Rockets)
  11. Vernon Moore (Washington Bullets)
  12. Sedric Toney (Atlanta Hawks)
  13. Andre Goode (Detroit Pistons)
  14. Perry Young (Portland Trail Blazers)
  15. Nigel Miguel (New Jersey Nets)
  16. Harold Keeling (Dallas Mavericks)
  17. Richie Johnson (Detroit Pistons)
  18. Kenny Perry (Washington Bullets)
  19. Michael Adams (Sacramento Kings)
  20. Steve Black (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Eugene McDowell (Milwaukee Bucks)
  22. Mike Brown (Chicago Bulls)
  23. Andre Battle (Boston Celtics)


  1. Luster Goodwin (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Vince Hamilton (Indiana Pacers)
  3. Fred Cofield (New York Knicks)
  4. Jim Deines (Los Angeles Clippers)
  5. Alex Stivrins (Seattle SuperSonics)
  6. Willie Simmons (Sacramento Kings)
  7. Arvydas Sabonis (Atlanta Hawks)
  8. Granger Hall (Phoenix Suns)
  9. Mark Davis (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  10. Craig Beard (Chicago Bulls)
  11. Richie Adams Washington Bullets)
  12. Scott Roth (San Antonio Spurs)
  13. Delaney Rudd (Utah Jazz)
  14. John Battle (Atlanta Hawks)
  15. Joe Atkinson (Portland Trail Blazers)
  16. Bubba Jennings (Dallas Mavericks)
  17. Spud Webb (Detroit Pistons)
  18. Michael Brooks (Houston Rockets)
  19. Pete Williams (Denver Nuggets)
  20. Derrick Gervin (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Cozell McQueen (Milwaukee Bucks)
  22. Dexter Shouse (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Cliff Webber (Boston Celtics)


  1. Kelvin Johnson (Indiana Pacers)
  2. Greg Cavener (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Mike Schlegel (New York Knicks)
  4. Lou Stefanovic (Seattle SuperSonics)
  5. Bob Lojewski (Sacramento Kings)
  6. Wayne Carlander (Los Angeles Clippers)
  7. Larry Hampton (Atlanta Hawks)
  8. Gunther Behnke (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  9. Shawn Campbell (Phoenix Suns)
  10. Reid Gettys (Chicago Bulls)
  11. Dean Shaffer (Washington Bullets)
  12. Ray Hall (Utah Jazz)
  13. Clayton Olivier (San Antonio Spurs)
  14. James Anderson (Portland Trail Blazers)
  15. Kelly Blaine (New Jersey Nets)
  16. Tommy Davis (Dallas Mavericks)
  17. Mike Lahm (Detroit Pistons)
  18. Ivan Daniels (Indiana Pacers)
  19. Kenny Brown (Denver Nuggets)
  20. Carl Wright (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Ray Knight (Milwaukee Bucks)
  22. Timo Saarelainen (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Albert Butts (Boston Celtics)


  1. Gerald Crosby (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Stu Primus (Indiana Pacers)
  3. Kent Lockhart (New York Knicks)
  4. Charles Balentine (Sacramento Kings)
  5. Malcolm Thomas (Los Angeles Clippers)
  6. Earl Walker (Seattle SuperSonics)
  7. Tony Duckett (Atlanta Hawks)
  8. Charles Rayne (Phoenix Suns)
  9. Rickie Johnson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  10. Dan Meagher (Chicago Bulls)
  11. Matt England (Washington Bullets)
  12. Chris Harper (San Antonio Spurs)
  13. Jim Miller (Utah Jazz)
  14. George Almones (New Jersey Nets)
  15. Curtis Moore (Portland Trail Blazers)
  16. Carlton Cooper (Dallas Mavericks)
  17. Vincent Giles (Detroit Pistons)
  18. Sam Potter (Houston Rockets)
  19. Joe Carrabino (Denver Nuggets)
  20. Daryl Lloyd (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Quentin Anderson (Milwaukee Bucks)
  22. Tony Neal (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Ralph Lewis (Boston Celtics)


  1. Jeff Acres (Indiana Pacers)
  2. Eric Boyd (Golden State Warriors)
  3. Ken Bantum (New York Knicks)
  4. Gary Maloncon (Los Angeles Clippers)
  5. Michael Phelps (Seattle SuperSonics)
  6. Alton Lee Gipson (Sacramento Kings)
  7. Bob Ferry Jr. (Atlanta Hawks)
  8. Buzz Peterson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  9. Georgi Glouchkov (Phoenix Suns)
  10. Jeff Adkins (Chicago Bulls)
  11. Keith Gray (Washington Bullets)
  12. Mike Wacker (Utah Jazz)
  13. Al Young (San Antonio Spurs)
  14. Mark Owen (Portland Trail Blazers)
  15. Gary McLain (New Jersey Nets)
  16. Ed Catchings (Dallas Mavericks)
  17. Frank James (Detroit Pistons)
  18. Don Turney (Indiana Pacers)
  19. Eddie Smith (Denver Nuggets)
  20. Jaye Andrews (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Mario Elie (Milwaukee Bucks)
  22. Keith Cieplicki (Los Angeles Lakers)
  23. Chris Remley (Boston Celtics)

1985 NBA Draft Best Players

Patrick Ewing

After being selected with the #1 pick, Patrick Ewing developed into a dominating center for the New York Knicks, transforming them into a perennial playoff team. The Knicks had struggled for over a decade in the aftermath of the classic New York teams of the early 70s, missing the playoffs 6 times from 1975 to 1985.

Ewing would lead the Knicks to the playoffs in 13 of his 15 years with the team, helping them reach the NBA finals in the 1993-1994 season. Although some may argue that Ewing didn’t quite live up to the superstar expectations levied on him at the #1 pick, as he fell slightly behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal in overall ability and accomplishments, he still had a brilliant career.

Ewing averaged 21 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.4 BPG, and 1 SPG, won the 1985-1986 NBA Rookie of the Year, was named to 11 all-star games, was named to the all-NBA 1st Team once, was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team 6 times, and was named to the All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team 3 times. Ewing was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Karl Malone

Although he was taken with the 13th overall selection by the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone proved to be the best player among 1985 NBA draft picks, developing into the best power forward of his generation. Teaming up with fellow star point guard John Stockton, Malone would help lead the Jazz to the playoffs every year of his career with the team.

Malone would eventually lead the Jazz to the 1997 and 1998 NBA finals, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in 6 games both times. Incredibly, Malone missed only 10 games over his first 18 seasons, ending his career averaging 25 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, and amassing 36,928 regular-season points, 3rd most all-time.

He was named to 14 all-star teams, won the NBA Most Valuable Player award twice, was named to the All-NBA First Team 11 times, was named to the All-NBA Second Team twice, was named to the All-NBA Third Team once, was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team 3 times, and was named to the All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team once. Malone was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Chris Mullin

Chris Mullin was selected with the 7th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors and would develop into one of the best offensive small forwards of the late 80s to early 90s. He averaged 18.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.6 SPG, all while shooting an impressive 50.9% from the field, 38.4% from 3-point range, and 86.5% from the free-throw line. Mullin was named to 5 all-star games, was named to the All-NBA 1st Team once, was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team twice, and was named to the All-NBA 3rd team once. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Joe Dumars

Joe Dumars, one of the best players from 1985 NBA Draft

Joe Dumars was an unheralded draft prospect at the shooting guard position, taken with the 18th pick by the Detroit Pistons. However, Dumars would quickly develop into one of the best defensive guards of his generation. He starred alongside point guard Isiah Thomas and would help make the Detroit Pistons the best defensive team of the late 80s, which culminated in back-to-back NBA championships. Dumars averaged 16.1 PPG and 4.5 APG, was named to 6 all-star games, was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team once, was named to the All-NBA 3rd Team twice, was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team 4 times, and was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team once.

Xavier McDaniel

Xavier McDaniel was selected with the 4th overall pick by the Seattle SuperSonics and established himself as an offensively gifted and physical player at the power forward position. He averaged 15.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and shot 48.5% from the field during his career, and played in all 82 regular season NBA games 6 different times. McDaniel was named to one all-star team during the 1987-1988 season.

Detlef Schrempf

After being selected with the 8th pick by the Dallas Mavericks, Detlef Schrempf developed into a good all-around offensive player at both the small forward and power forward positions. He averaged 13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 3.4 APG for his career, all while shooting 49.1% from the field and 80.3% from the free-throw line. Schrempf was named to 3 all-star teams, won the NBA Six Man of the Year award twice, and was named to the All-NBA 3rd team once.

Charles Oakley

Charles Oakley was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 9th overall pick but was then traded to the Chicago Bulls before the start of the season. He is best known for his 10-year stint with the New York Knicks at the power forward position, where he established himself as a fearsome defensive player and a great leader. Oakley averaged 9.7 PPG and 9.5 RPG over his career, was named to 1 all-star game, was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team once, and was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team once.

A.C. Green

A.C. Green was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 23rd overall pick and wasn’t one of the highly sought-after prospects of the original 1985 NBA draft list. However, he was able to have a successful career at the power forward position, averaging 9.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and shooting 49.4% for his career. He was named to 1 all-star team, was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team once, and won 3 NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Green is best known for being the NBA’s premier iron man, missing only 3 regular-season games in his 16-year NBA career.

Terry Porter

The 1985 NBA draft order has often perplexed the minds of NBA historians, and Terry Porter’s selection at the 24th overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers was no exception. Despite his low draft status, Porter developed into a solid starting point guard for much of his career, averaging 12.2 PPG, 5.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, and shooting an impressive 38.6% from 3-point range. He was named to 2 all-star teams over his career during the 1990-1991 and 1992-1993 seasons.

Michael Adams

Michael Adams was another late pick who overachieved his draft status, originally drafted at the 66th overall pick by the Kansas City Kings. After receiving little playing time during his first 2 seasons, Adams eventually developed into a good starting point guard for several different teams, averaging 14.7 PPG and 6.4 APG over his career. He was named to one all-star game during the 1991-1992 season.

Arvydas Sabonis

Although Arvydas Sabonis was originally drafted with the 77th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, the pick was voided because Sabonis didn’t meet the current age requirements of the NBA draft at the time. He was then drafted again the following year by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 24th overall pick but would opt to play overseas for the next decade. Sabonis eventually joined the Trail Blazers for the 1995-1996 season and would spend 7 seasons with the team, averaging 12 PPG and 7.3 RPG at the center position. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 primarily for his successful international basketball career.

The Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing Draft Class Is One Of The Best Of All-Time

The 1985 NBA draft was one of the best drafts of all time, producing an impressive combination of high-end talent and overall depth. Although its best players don’t quite match up to the 1984 or 2003 NBA drafts, the 1985 draft results produced an arguably deeper selection of overall talent, as many good starters and role players were a part of the class. Although it is shrouded in controversy over the supposed “frozen envelope” scandal, it is highly improbable that the lottery was rigged.