1987 NBA Draft: A Mixture Of Quality And Quantity Of Picks

1987 NBA Draft: Mixture of Quality and Quantity feature image

The 1987 NBA Draft held on June 22nd in New York City does not receive as much attention as it should. It is often overshadowed by other drafts that produced unprecedented results or unique outcomes. For example, whenever basketball fans discuss their favorite NBA Draft class of all time, many mention the 1984 NBA Draft that produced the legendary Michael Jordan and several other Future Hall of Fame players.

Similarly, it’s hard to miss the 1996 and 2003 NBA Drafts in such arguments because it produced superstars like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. However, the 1987 NBA draft class holds a spot among the classics because its draft picks produced key figures and some of the most memorable all-stars and NBA championship players in history.

The 1987 NBA draft was one of a kind because it comprised 161 picks selected from over seven rounds with 23 teams, compared to current drafts with two rounds and 30 teams. Subsequently, only 55 players managed to participate in the NBA. Nonetheless, the choices made from these picks are notable, considering that these teams did not have access to the technological solutions and analytics applications we do today. Yet, the 1987 NBA draft class left a mark like no other because its players breathed life into NBA game for years to come. Starting from one of the most famous rookies of the year Mark Jackson to Michael Jordan’s sidekick, Scottie Pippen, and other celebrated all-star players.

Who Got Rookie Of The Year?

Mark Jackson won the 1987-88 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Jackson was the 18th pick by the New York Knicks, renowned for his exemplary vision, passing ability and eye pleasing assists as the team’s point guard. Jackson went on to garner an average of 13.6 points and 10.6 assists in all games during his rookie season.

Consequently, he was not a disappointment to his coach, Rick Pitino, as he teamed up with Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing to turn the team into a prime playoff contender from the late 1980s to early 1990s. Jackson had an amazing career, ranking 5th on the NBA’s all time assist leaders, matching the skills of some of the most versatile NBA players of all time. Disappointingly, he only made an all-star appearance once during his career in 1989, after winning his rookie of the year award. However, several 1987 NBA draft picks performed exceptionally well. 

1987 NBA Draft Picks

Most expert analysts suggest that the 1987 NBA draft was solid but could benefit from a redraft. For example, the first round of the draft presented six significant misses, with Ronnie Murphy and José Ortiz being two of the most notable. While Murphy participated in only 18 games, Jazz’s favorite, José Ortiz, stuck it out for 64 games over two NBA seasons.

Following these events, some are certain that Jazz fans would have happily traded José Ortiz for Reggie Lewis or another valuable player. However, the Trail Blazers and the Jazz are not the only teams that made mistakes in the 1987 NBA draft because some teams like New Jersey passed on Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen, and Kevin Johnson to draft Dennis Hopson with the third overall pick. Now, let’s take a look at the 1987 NBA Draft lottery picks, first-round picks, and second-round picks.

The 1987 NBA draft lottery is significant because the players picked helped change the fate of several teams. The 1987 draft lottery picks from the first-round included: 

1. David Robinson, Navy (San Antonio)

2. Armon Gilliam, UNLV (Phoenix)

3. Dennis Hopson, Ohio State (New Jersey)

4. Reggie Williams, Georgetown (LA Clippers)

5. Scottie Pippen, Central Arkansas (Seattle)

6. Kenny Smith, North Carolina (Sacramento)

7. Kevin Johnson, California (Cleveland)

First-Round Picks

The first-round featured 23 players overall, including:

8. Olden Polynice, Virginia (Chicago)

9. Derrick McKey, Alabama (Seattle)

10. Horace Grant, Clemson (Chicago)

11. Reggie Miller, UCLA (Indiana)

12. Tyrone Bogues, Wake Forest (Washington)

13. Joe Wolf, North Carolina (LA Clippers)

14. Tellis Frank, Western Kentucky (Golden State)

15. Jose Ortiz, Oregon State (Utah)

16. Christian Welp, Washington (Philadelphia)

17. Ronnie Murphy, Jacksonville (Portland)

18. Mark Jackson, St. John’s (New York)

19. Ken Norman, Illinois (LA Clippers)

20. Jim Farmer, Alabama (Dallas)

21. Dallas Comegys, DePaul (Atlanta)

22. Reggie Lewis, Northeastern (Boston)

23. Greg Anderson, Houston (San Antonio)

Second-Round Picks

24. Freddie Banks, UNLV (Detroit)

25. Ron Moore, West Virginia State (New York)

26. Steve Alford, Indiana (Dallas)

27. Nate Blackwell, Temple (San Antonio)

28. Ricky Winslow, Houston (Chicago)

29. Lester Fonville, Jackson State (Portland)

30. Nikita Wilson, Louisiana State (Portland)

31. Andre Moore, Loyola-Chicago (Denver)

32. Bob McCann, Morehead State (Milwaukee)

33. Tony White, Tennessee (Chicago)

34. Brian Rowsom, UNC-Wilmington (Indiana)

35. Doug Lee, Purdue (Houston)

36. Duane Washington, Middle Tennessee State (Washington)

37. Derrick Dowell, Southern California (Washington)

38. Norris Coleman, Kansas State (LA Clippers)

39. Vincent Askew, Memphis State (Philadelphia)

40. Winston Garland, Southwest Missouri St (Milwaukee)

41. Kannard Johnson, Western Kentucky (Cleveland)

42. Terrence Bailey, Wagner (Atlanta)

43. Andrew Kennedy, Virginia (Philadelphia)

44. Terry Coner, Alabama (Atlanta)

45. Brad Lohaus, Iowa (Boston)

46. Bruce Dalrymple, Georgia Tech (Phoenix)

Third-Round Picks

47. Tim McCalister (LA Clippers)

48. Jamie Walker (New Jersey)

49. Jerome Batiste (New York)

50. Phil Zevenbergen (San Antonio)

51. Sven Myer (Sacramento)

52. Donald Royal (Cleveland)

53. Winston Crite (Phoenix)

54. Tom Schafer (Denver)

55. Tommy Amaker (Seattle)

56. John Fox (Chicago)

57. Hansi Gnad (Philadelphia)

58. Darryl Johnson (Golden State)

59. Danny Pearson (Washington)

60. Sean Couch (Indiana)

61. Clarence Martin (Utah)

62. Eric Riggins (Philadelphia)

63. Kevin Gamble (Portland)

64. J.J Weber (Milwaukee)

65. Eric White (Detroit)

66. Mike Richmond (Dallas)

67. Song Tao (Atlanta)

68. Billy Donovan (Utah)

69. Willie Glass (LA Lakers)

Fourth-Round Picks

70. Tom Sheehey (Boston)

71. Mike Morgan (New York)

72. Andrew Moten (New Jersey)

73. Todd May (San Antonio)

74. Joe Arlauckas (Sacramento)

75. Chris Dudley (Cleveland)

76. Steve Beck (Phoenix)

77. David Boone (Denver)

78. Todd Linder (Seattle)

79. Jack Haley (Chicago)

80. Carven Holcomb (Cleveland)

81. Scott Thompson (Washington)

82. Joe Niego (Houston)

83. Benny Bolton (Golden State)

84. Rueben Holmes (Utah)

85. Brian Rahilly (Philadelphia)

86. Norwood Barber (Portland)

87. Darryl Bedford (Milwaukee)

88. Dave Popson (Detroit)

89. David Johnson (Dallas)

90. Theofanis Christodoulou (Atlanta)

91. Darryl Kennedy (Boston)

92. Ralph Tally (LA Lakers)

Fortunately, there were notable standouts from the list of 1987 NBA Draft picks, also suggesting that several teams did a great job.

The 1987 NBA Draft Standouts

The 1987 NBA draft produced two members of NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, Scottie Pippen and David Robinson. However, Robinson did not participate in NBA games until 1989 due to his commitment to the navy. Reggie Miller would also be a part of this list had he not missed the top 50th position by a whisker. But Miller is a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

Nonetheless, these players made it to the NBA hall of fame, which is worth noting. Other standout selections include the former mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, skilled player and commentator Horace Grant, Boston Celtics captain Reggie Lewis, and other key players like Mark Jackson, Sarunas Marciulionis and Muggsy Bogues. Additionally, the draft produced current Chicago Bulls and former Florida Gators head coach, Billy Donovan, who guided his teams to victories in the 2006 and 2007 NCAA National Championships.

A Contribution To The NBA’s Global Trend

NBA drafts are high-pressure events because a slight misstep could significantly hinder a team’s progress. Similarly, a last-minute decision to pick a player because of his unique skills can alter a team’s chemistry to make it rigid. As a result, looking back at NBA drafts provides critical insight into the value of these picks and a sneak peek into the making of NBA history.

The 1987 NBA Draft was the last draft to feature more than three rounds. However, it is popular for several other reasons. Apart from helping produce top players, coaches, and politicians, several of its players changed the face of the game and transformed it into what it is today. Thanks to players like David Robinson, Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller, the NBA is a global trend attracting billions of fans every season.