1988 NBA Draft: The 8 Most Impressive Players From This Class

Mitch Richmond holding a basketball in front of a 1988 NBA Draft banner

The 1988 NBA draft was the 42nd in league history since its founding during the 1946-1947 season. The Los Angeles Clippers, historically one of the worst NBA franchises, were awarded the #1 pick after compiling a disastrous 17-65 record the previous season. The 1988 NBA draft was the final draft that had more than 2 rounds, being reduced in size from 7 rounds the previous year to 3 rounds.

The 1988 NBA Draft Class

The 1988 NBA draft was a below-average draft. Many experts believe each of the top 4 picks failed to live up to pre-draft expectations or their high draft status. The 1988 NBA draft did produce 6 players who were named to at least 1 all-star team, 3 players who were named to at least 1 All-NBA Team, and 1 member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. However, other than Mitch Richmond, the 1988 NBA draft results failed to produce any franchise-level players.

Who won Rookie of the Year?

Mitch Richmond won the NBA Rookie of the Year award after putting together an outstanding rookie season, one of the most underrated in NBA history. Richmond averaged 22 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1 SPG, and shot 81% from the free-throw line, providing the Golden State Warriors with another star to pair alongside Chris Mullin. The addition of Richmond helped the Warriors to improve from 20 wins the year before to 43 wins, resulting in a playoff berth and first-round series win against the Utah Jazz.

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NBA Draft 1988: Who was in this Draft Class?


  1. Danny Manning (Los Angeles Clippers)
  2. Rik Smits (Indiana Pacers)
  3. Charles Smith (Philadelphia 76ers)
  4. Chris Morris (New Jersey Nets)
  5. Mitch Richmond (Golden State Warriors)
  6. Hersey Hawkins (Los Angeles Clippers)
  7. Tim Perry (Phoenix Suns)


  1. Rex Chapman (Charlotte Hornets)
  2. Rony Seikaly (Miami Heat)
  3. Willie Anderson (San Antonio Spurs)
  4. Will Perdue (Chicago Bulls)
  5. Harvey Grant (Washington Bullets)
  6. Jeff Graver (Milwaukee Bucks)
  7. Dan Majerle (Phoenix Suns)
  8. Gary Grant (Seattle SuperSonics)
  9. Derrick Chievous (Houston Rockets)
  10. Eric Leckner (Utah Jazz)
  11. Ricky Berry (Sacramento Kings)
  12. Rod Strickland (New York Knicks)
  13. Kevin Edwards (Miami Heat)
  14. Mark Bryant (Portland Trail Blazers)
  15. Randolph Keys (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  16. Jerome Lane (Denver Nuggets)
  17. Brian Shaw (Boston Celtics)
  18. David Rivers (Los Angeles Lakers)


  1. Rolando Ferreira (Portland Trail Blazers)
  2. Shelton Jones (San Antonio Spurs)
  3. Andrew Lang (Phoenix Suns)
  4. Vinny Del Negro (Sacramento Kings)
  5. Fennis Dembo (Detroit Pistons)
  6. Everette Stephens (Philadelphia 76ers)
  7. Charles Shackleford (New Jersey Nets)
  8. Grant Long (Miami Heat)
  9. Tom Tolbert (Charlotte Hornets)
  10. Sylvester Gray (Miami Heat)
  11. Ledell Eackles (Washington Bullets)
  12. Greg Butler (New York Knicks)
  13. Dean Garrett (Phoenix Suns)
  14. Tito Horford (Milwaukee Bucks)
  15. Orlando Graham (Miami Heat)
  16. Keith Smart (Golden State Warriors)
  17. Jeff Moe (Utah Jazz)
  18. Todd Mitchell (Denver Nuggets)
  19. Anthony Taylor (Atlanta Hawks)
  20. Tom Garrick (Los Angeles Clippers)
  21. Morlon Wiley (Dallas Mavericks)
  22. Vernon Maxwell (Denver Nuggets)
  23. Michael Williams (Detroit Pistons)
  24. Jose Vargas (Dallas Mavericks)
  25. Steve Kerr (Phoenix Suns)


  1. Rob Lock (Los Angeles Clippers)
  2. Derrick Hamilton (New Jersey Nets)
  3. Anthony Mason (Portland Trail Blazers)
  4. Jorge Gonzalez (Atlanta Hawks)
  5. Rodney Johns (Phoenix Suns)
  6. Barry Sumpter (San Antonio Spurs)
  7. Hernan Montenegro (Philadelphia 76ers)
  8. Jeff Moore (Charlotte Hornets)
  9. Nate Johnston (Miami Heat)
  10. Ed Davender (Washington Bullets)
  11. Herbert Crook (Indiana Pacers)
  12. Derrick Lewis (Chicago Bulls)
  13. Mike Jones (Milwaukee Bucks)
  14. Winston Bennet (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  15. Corey Gaines (Seattle SuperSonics)
  16. Dwight Boyd (Denver Nuggets)
  17. Ricky Grace (Utah Jazz)
  18. Darryl Middleton (Atlanta Hawks)
  19. Phil Stinnie (New York Knicks)
  20. Jerry Johnson (Dallas Mavericks)
  21. Craig Neal (Portland Trail Blazers)
  22. Lee Johnson (Detroit Pistons)
  23. Michael Anderson (Indiana Pacers)
  24. Gerald Paddio (Boston Celtics)
  25. Archie Marshall (San Antonio Spurs)

Who was the Best Player in the 1988 Draft?

Mitch Richmond is the best player to come out of the 1988 NBA Draft. After being selected with the 5th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors, Mitch Richmond immediately developed into an elite shooting guard. Although the 1988 NBA draft lottery contained many players who underachieved, Richmond overachieved his #5 pick status, proving himself to be the best player of the 1988 NBA draft.

After 3 great seasons with Golden State, the Warriors made one of the worst trades of the 90s, dealing Richmond to the Sacramento Kings for the draft rights to Billy Owens. Richmond would continue to perform at a high level with Sacramento, although the Kings would never finish with a winning record during his time there. Richmond averaged 21 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG, and shot 85% from the free-throw line for his career.

He was arguably the 3rd best shooting guard of the 90s behind only Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler and was named to 6 all-star games, the All-NBA 2nd Team 3 times, and the All-NBA 3rd Team 2 times. A 1988 NBA draft redo would undoubtedly result in Richmond being selected at the #1 overall pick. Richmond was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2014.

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Best Players From the 1988 Draft

Danny Manning

Danny Manning was the 1988 NBA draft 1st pick selected by the Los Angeles Clippers, a historically disappointing team that was looking for a dominant player to lift the franchise. Unfortunately, Manning tore his ACL during his rookie season in the NBA and was never the same dominant force he had been during his collegiate days at Kansas.

Manning was still able to develop into a good offensive player but never had the same quickness which hindered most facets of his game. He was a below-average rebounder in the NBA for a power forward and frequently was a liability on defense. Still, Manning was able to average 14 PPG and 5.2 RPG for his career, all while shooting an impressive 51.1% from the field. He was named to 2 all-star teams and was the 1997-1998 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Rik Smits

Rik Smits was picked with the 2nd selection of the 1988 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers, with many projecting him to be a dominant force in the paint for years to come. Smits would develop into a skilled offensive center for the Indiana Pacers, averaging 14.8 PPG and shooting 50.7% from the field and 77.3% from the free-throw line.

However, he was an extremely poor rebounder for his size, averaging a meager 6.1 RPG for his career, and was a below-average defensive player. Smits was a major offensive option on many playoff teams, as the Pacers established themselves as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference during the 90s. He was also named to the all-star game during the 1997-1998 NBA season.

Hersey Hawkins

Hersey Hawkins was the 6th pick of the 1988 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and would develop into a good number 2 offensive option at the shooting guard position for the 76ers behind superstar Charles Barkley. Hawkins would miss just seven games over his first 11 seasons in the NBA and was also a significant contributor to the Seattle SuperSonics’ 1996 playoff run to the NBA finals. Hawkins averaged 14.7 PPG and 1.7 SPG for his career and was also named to 1 all-star team.

Dan Majerle

After being drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 14th overall pick, Dan Majerle excelled as a good offensive and defensive player at both the shooting guard and small forward positions. His excellent outside shooting abilities made him a prototypical “3 and d” player that many elite teams in the modern NBA covet. Majerle is best known for his contributions to the successful Phoenix Suns teams of the early to mid-90s who were perennial playoff teams. Majerle averaged 11.4 PPG and 4.5 RPG, was named to 3 all-star teams, and was named to the All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team twice.

Rod Strickland

Rod Strickland was drafted 19th overall by the New York Knicks and would develop into a good NBA point guard for several different teams throughout his career. He averaged 13.2 PPG and 7.3 APG for his career but was never named to an all-star team. He was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team during the 1997-1998 season when he led the league with an impressive 10.5 APG average.

Anthony Mason

One of the glaring failures of the 1988 NBA draft order was the selection of Anthony Mason 53rd overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. A 1988 NBA redraft would rank Mason among the best players from 1988 NBA draft.

For his career, he averaged 10.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, and shooting 50.9% from the field. He was named to 1 all-star team, was named to the All-Defensive 2nd team once, and was the 1994-1995 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

John Starks

Although he was not a part of the 1988 draft class since he was undrafted, Starks signed with the Golden State Warriors during the 1988-1989 season. He would go on to play for the New York Knicks during the 90s, playing a major role on many playoff teams, including the 1994 playoff run by the Knicks to the NBA finals. Starks averaged 12.5 PPG and 3.6 APG for his career, was named to 1 all-star team, was named to the All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team once, and was the 1996-1997 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

The 1988 Draft or The Mitch Richmond Draft Class

The 1988 NBA draft was a below-average NBA draft, as most of the top lottery picks failed to develop into franchise players or consistent all-stars. Although many players would develop into key contributing pieces to playoff teams, Mitch Richmond was the only consistent star to emerge from this draft. The 88 NBA draft class was probably hurt most by the ACL injury to Danny Manning, which prevented the marquee college star and #1 pick from ever reaching the heights of his collegiate playing days.

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