The 1989 NBA draft was the 43rd in league history since its founding during the inaugural 1946-1947 season. The Sacramento Kings, a historically disappointing NBA franchise, were awarded the 1st overall pick after compiling a 27-55 record the previous season.
The 1989 NBA draft was the first draft where the number of rounds was set at 2, reduced from 3 rounds the previous year.
The 1989 NBA Draft
The 1989 NBA draft was a very good draft, one of the most underrated in NBA history. Although it often gets a poor reputation because the top 2 draft picks didn’t meet the expectations, it nonetheless produced a high number of successful NBA players that would make a significant impact on the league.
9 players from the 1989 NBA draft were named to at least 1 all-star game, 3 were named to at least 1 All-NBA Team, and 3 were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. However, 2 of the 3 members of the hall of fame, Vlade Divac and Dino Radja, were inducted largely as a result of their contributions to the international basketball world apart from the NBA.
Who won Rookie of the Year?
David Robinson won the rookie of the year award in the NBA during the 1989-1990 NBA season after posting one of the most successful rookie seasons in NBA history. Robinson was not a member of the 1989 NBA draft class, being drafted 2 years earlier, but then had served for 2 years in the United States Navy. Robinson averaged 24.3 PPG, 12 RPG, 3.9 BPG, and 1.7 SPG, helping the Spurs to complete one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in NBA history, improving from 21 wins the year before to 56 wins.
Who was in the 1989 NBA Draft Class?
- Pervis Ellison (Sacramento Kings)
- Danny Ferry (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Sean Elliot (San Antonio Spurs)
- Glen Rice (Miami Heat)
- J.R. Reid (Charlotte Hornets)
- Stacey King (Chicago Bulls)
- George McCloud (Indiana Pacers)
- Randy White (Dallas Mavericks)
- Tom Hammonds (Washington Bullets)
NON LOTTERY FIRST ROUND PICKS
- Pooh Richardson (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Nick Anderson (Orlando Magic)
- Mookie Blaylock (New Jersey Nets)
- Michael Smith (Boston Celtics)
- Tim Hardaway (Golden State Warriors)
- Tom Lichti (Denver Nuggets)
- Dana Barros (Seattle SuperSonics)
- Shawn Kemp (Seattle SuperSonics)
- B.J. Armstrong (Chicago Bulls)
- Kenny Payne (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Jeff Sanders (Chicago Bulls)
- Blue Edwards (Utah Jazz)
- Byron Irvin (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Roy Marble (Atlanta Hawks)
- Anthony Cook (Phoenix Suns)
- John Morton (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Vlade Divac (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Kenny Battle (Detroit Pistons)
SECOND ROUND PICKS
- Sherman Douglas (Miami Heat)
- Dyron Nix (Charlotte Hornets)
- Frank Kornet (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Jeff Martin (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Stanley Brundy (New Jersey Nets)
- Jay Edwards (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Gary Leonard (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Pat Durham (Dallas Mavericks)
- Clifford Robinson (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Michael Ansley (Orlando Magic)
- Doug West (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Ed Horton (Washinton Bullets)
- Dino Radja (Boston Celtics)
- Doug Roth (Washington Bullets)
- Michael Cutright (Denver Nuggets)
- Chucky Brown (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Reggie Cross (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Scott Haffner (Miami Heat)
- Ricky Blanton (Phoenix Suns)
- Reggie Turner (Denver Nuggets)
- Junie Lewis (Utah Jazz)
- Haywoode Workman (Atlanta Hawks)
- Brian Quinnett (New York Knicks)
- Mike Morrison (Phoenix Suns)
- Greg Grant (Phoenix Suns)
- Jeff Hodge (Dallas Mavericks)
- Toney Mack (Philadelphia 76ers)
Who was the Best Player in the 1989 NBA Draft?
Tim Hardaway was the best player to come out of the 1989 NBA Draft. Although he was drafted outside of the lottery at the 14th pick by the Golden State Warriors, Tim Hardaway quickly established himself as an elite point guard and the best player of the 1989 NBA draft. Equipped with a killer crossover and the ability to knock down an outside jump shot, Hardaway was one of the best point guards of the 90s.
While his best seasons were with the Golden State Warriors, he is most commonly known for his time with the Miami Heat, where he starred alongside Alonzo Mourning on a perennial playoff team. Hardaway averaged 17.7 PPG, 8.2 APG, and 1.6 SPG for his career, while being named to 5 all-star games, the All-NBA 1st team once, the All-NBA 2nd team 3 times, and the All-NBA 3rd team once.
Hardaway was recently named a member of the 2022 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class and will be inducted this summer.
Best Players From The 89 Draft
After being drafted 3rd overall by the San Antonio Spurs, Sean Elliot developed into a good offensive small forward, helping the Spurs to develop into one of the best teams in the Western Conference during the 90s. Playing alongside superstar David Robinson, Elliot would average 14.2 PPG and 4.3 RPG for career and was named to 2 all-star games. He was also a member of the 1998-1999 San Antonio Spurs championship team, the first title in franchise history.
Glen Rice was drafted by the Miami Heat, a recent expansion team in their 2nd season, with the 4th overall pick and would become one of the best offensive small forwards of the 90s. Although he is probably best known for his time with the Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers, Rice established himself as the first legitimate franchise player to play for the Heat.
Rice averaged 18.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG, shot an impressive 40% from 3-point range, and also shot 84.6% from the free-throw line. Rice was named to 3 all-star teams, the All-NBA 2nd team once, the All-NBA 3rd team once, and was a member of the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers championship team.
Mookie Blaylock was drafted 12th overall by the New Jersey Nets and would establish himself as a good NBA point guard. Blaylock’s best seasons came with the Atlanta Hawks from 1992 to 1999 where he became an integral part of many playoff teams.
Blaylock was arguably the 2nd best defensive point guard in the 90s behind Gary Payton, who along with teammate Dikembe Mutombo, would help to establish the Hawks as a very good defensive team. He averaged 13.5 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 2.3 SPG, was named to 1 all-star team, and was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team 2 times and the All-Defensive 2nd Team 4 times.
After his selection by the Seattle SuperSonics at the 16th pick of the draft, Dana Barros would spend several seasons as a backup point guard. He was then traded to the Philadelphia 76ers where he would spend a brief 2-year stint as a starting point guard, where he would have his best individual seasons.
He would spend several more seasons with other NBA teams, mostly as a backup or role player, and would end up averaging 10.5 PPG and 3.3 APG over his career. Barros was a very good outside shooter, with an impressive career 3-point percentage of 41.1%. He was named to 1 all-star team and was named the 1994-1995 NBA Most Improved Player.
Shawn Kemp proved to be the steal of the draft, selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 17th overall pick. Kemp’s freakish athletic ability at the power forward position and highlight-reel dunks made him one of the most popular players in the NBA.
Kemp starred alongside Gary Payton and helped turn the Sonics into one of the best teams in the Western Conference during the 90s, helping them reach the NBA finals during the 1995-1996 season. However, Kemp’s struggles with personal problems and weight issues prevented him from reaching his full potential and eventually derailed his career.
Kemp still had a very successful NBA career, averaging 14.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG, and 1.1 SPG. He was named to 6 all-star games and was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team 3 times.
B.J. Armstrong was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 18th overall pick and proved to be an important role player during the Chicago Bulls’ first 3-peat championship run. He played for several other teams throughout his career, alternating between starting and backup roles at the point guard position. Armstrong averaged 9.8 PPG, 3.3 APG, and was named to 1 all-star team for his career.
After being drafted with the 26th overall pick of the 1st round by the Los Angeles Lakers, Vlade Divac quickly overperformed his draft position, enjoying a successful 16-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, and Sacramento Kings. Divac averaged 11.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.4 BPG, and 1.1 SPG at the center position, proving himself to be a skilled all-around player that excelled at all facets of the game. He was named to 1 all-star team and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019, in part due to his international success with the Yugoslavian national team.
Clifford Robinson was picked in the 2nd round of the NBA draft with the 36th overall selection by the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite his low draft status, Robinson would have success in the NBA as a versatile offensive player for several different teams, playing the small forward, power forward, and center positions at different points throughout his career. Robinson missed just 17 games over his first 15 seasons and averaged 14.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1 BPG, and 1 SPG for his career. He was named to 1 all-star team, the All-Defensive 2nd Team twice, and was the 1992-1993 Sixth Man of the Year.
Dino Radja was selected with the 40th overall pick of the draft in the 2nd round by the Boston Celtics and would spend all four seasons of his career with them. However, he initially opted to play overseas and didn’t join the Celtics until the 1993-1994 season. Radja had success with the Celtics at the power forward position, but injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential. When healthy, Radja was an excellent power forward, averaging 16.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.3 BPG. Radja was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 almost entirely as a result of his international basketball career.
The Overlooked Draft
The 1989 NBA draft, though often overlooked by many analysts, was very successful and produced many stars who would achieve great accomplishments during the 1990s. Tim Hardaway and Shawn Kemp were among the 1989 NBA draft best players despite being drafted in the mid-first round, while many late 1st round and 2nd round selections would go on to have good careers as well. The 1989 NBA draft is a great example of how high lottery picks are not a prerequisite for finding exceptional NBA talent.