1990 NBA Draft: Don’t Let The Reputation Fool You

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The 1990 NBA draft was the 44th in league history since its founding during the 1946-1947 season. The New Jersey Nets won the draft lottery and were awarded the number 1 pick after posting a franchise-worst 17-65 record. Loyola Marymount’s Hank Gathers was originally projected to be one of the top selections of the draft but tragically passed away from a heart condition after collapsing during a game his senior season.

1990 NBA Draft

The 1990 NBA draft is widely considered to be one of the most disappointing drafts of the 1990s, in part, due to #1 pick Derrick Coleman never living up to the superstar potential many analysts ascribed to him. Also, many lottery selections from picks 3-11 failed to live up to the high pre-draft expectations for their careers.

However, the overall 1990 NBA draft results suggest that the draft as a whole was probably more successful than its poor reputation would indicate. 6 players were named to at least 1 all-star team, 2 players were named to at least 1 All-NBA team and 2 players were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Who won Rookie of the Year?

Derrick Coleman

After being selected as the #1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft, Derrick Coleman had a very good rookie season, averaging 18.4 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, and 1 SPG, and helping the New Jersey Nets win 9 more games than they had the previous season.

However, his rookie season didn’t quite reach the heights of many other ROY winners of his era, as players such as David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Chris Webber would all make greater impacts on their respective teams during their rookie seasons. Still, his abilities at the power forward position warranted many comparisons to some of the other elite power forwards of the day, including Charles Barkly and Karl Malone.

Who got Drafted in the NBA in 1990?


  1. Derrick Coleman (New Jersey Nets)
  2. Gary Payton (Seattle SuperSonics)
  3. Chris Jackson (Denver Nuggets)
  4. Dennis Scott (Orlando Magic)
  5. Kendall Gill (Charlotte Hornets)
  6. Felton Spencer (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  7. Lionell Simmons (Sacramento Kings)
  8. Bo Kimble (Los Angeles Clippers)
  9. Willie Burton (Miami Heat)
  10. Rumeal Robinson (Atlanta Hawks)
  11. Tyrone Hill (Golden State Warriors)


  1. Alec Kessler (Houston Rockets)
  2. Loy Vaught (Los Angeles Clippers)
  3. Travis Mays (Sacramento Kings)
  4. Dave Jamerson (Miami Heat)
  5. Terry Mills (Milwaukee Bucks)
  6. Jerrod Mustaf (New York Knicks)
  7. Duane Causwell (Sacramento Kings)
  8. Dee Brown (Boston Celtics)
  9. Gerald Glass (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  10. Jayson Williams (Phoenix Suns)
  11. Tate George (New Jersey Nets)
  12. Anthony Bonner (Sacramento Kings)
  13. Dwayne Schintzius (San Antonio Spurs)
  14. Alaa Abdelnaby (Portland Trail Blazers)
  15. Lance Blanks (Detroit Pistons)
  16. Elden Campbell (Los Angeles Lakers)


  1. Les Jepsen (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Toni Kukoc (Chicago Bulls)
  3. Carl Herrera (Miami Heat)
  4. Negele Knight (Phoenix Suns)
  5. Brian Oliver (Philadelphia 76ers)
  6. Walter Palmer (Utah Jazz)
  7. Kevin Pritchard (Golden State Warriors)
  8. Greg Foster (Washinton Bullets)
  9. Trevor Wilson (Atlanta Hawks)
  10. A.J. English (Washinton Bullets)
  11. Jud Buechler (Seattle SuperSonics)
  12. Steve Scheffler (Charlotte Hornets)
  13. Bimbo Coles (Sacramento Kings)
  14. Steve Bardo (Atlanta Hawks)
  15. Marcus Liberty (Denver Nuggets)
  16. Tony Massenburg (San Antonio Spurs)
  17. Steve Henson (Milwaukee Bucks)
  18. Antonio Davis (Indiana Pacers)
  19. Kenny Williams (Indiana Pacers)
  20. Derek Strong (Philadelphia 76ers)
  21. Cedric Ceballos (Phoenix Suns)
  22. Phil Henderson (Dallas Mavericks)
  23. Milos Babic (Phoenix Suns)
  24. Tony Smith (Los Angeles Lakers)
  25. Stefano Rusconi (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  26. Abdul-Shamsid-Deen (Seattle SuperSonics)
  27. Sean Higgins (San Antonio Spurs)

1990 NBA Draft Best Players

Derrick Coleman

After winning rookie of the year honors for the 1990-1991 NBA season, Derrick Coleman would continue to improve, establishing himself as one of the best young power forwards in the game. However, by his 5th season in the league, injuries would begin to take their toll on Coleman, who became unable to consistently stay healthy.

Although he would lead the Nets to 3 straight playoff appearances, the Nets never made it out of the first round as Coleman failed to develop into a franchise player. He would spend time with 3 other teams, gradually transitioning from a star player to a role player as numerous injuries deteriorated his play.

Coleman averaged 16.5 PPG and 9.3 RPG for his career, was named to 1 all-star team, and was named to the All-NBA 3rd team twice.

Gary Payton

While Gary Payton was selected 2nd overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, he spent his first 2 seasons with the team functioning primarily as a role player, deferring to many high-scoring veteran teammates. However, Payton continued to improve, and by his fifth season, was one of the best point guards in the NBA.

Payton was by far the best player of the 1990 draft, developing into one of the best perimeter defenders of the 90s and averaging at least 20 ppg 7 different times. He was an ironman, missing only 7 games during the first 14 years of his career, and helped lead the SuperSonics to the 1996 NBA finals.

Payton was named to 9 all-star teams, was named to the All-Defensive 1st team 9 times, the All-NBA 1st Team 2 times, the All-NBA 2nd Team 5 times, the All-NBA 3rd team 2 times, and was the 1995-1996 NBA defensive player of the year. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame in 2013.

Tyrone Hill

Tyrone Hill was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 11th overall pick and would go on to have a successful career as a starting power forward on several different teams. He averaged 9.4 PPG and 8.6 RPG during his career and was named an all-star during the 1994-1995 season.

Jayson Williams

After being selected with the 21st pick in the draft by the Phoenix Suns, Jayson Williams would spend several seasons as a backup power forward and center with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets. He eventually became the starting center for the New Jersey Nets and was named an all-star for the 1997-1998 NBA season after averaging 12.9 PPG and 13.6 RPG. Williams’ career was cut short when he broke his leg during the 1998-1999 season and was eventually forced to retire.

Toni Kukoc

Toni Kukoc was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 29th pick in the 1990 NBA draft but would play professionally in Europe for 3 seasons before joining the Bulls, establishing himself as one of the top international players in the world. He was a key contributor to the Chicago Bulls’ 2nd 3-peat run from the 1995-1996 to 1997-1998 seasons and won the sixth man of the year award during the 1995-1996 season. Kukoc was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021, in large part due to his contributions to the game as an international player.

Antonio Davis

Antonio Davis was selected 45th overall by the Indiana Pacers but would spend the first 3 years of his professional career playing overseas. He would spend 13 seasons in the NBA for the Pacers and 3 other teams in varying starting and reserve roles as a power forward and center, averaging 10 PPG and 7.5 RPG, and was named to the 2000-2001 NBA all-star team.

Cedric Ceballos

After being picked 48th overall by the Phoenix Suns as an unheralded small forward out of Cal State Fullerton, Cedric Ceballos would dramatically exceed expectations over a successful career spanning 11 seasons. Ceballos averaged 14.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG and was named to the 1994-1995 all-star game.

Chris Jackson

Chris Jackson was drafted 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets and would average 14.6 PPG and 3.5 APG as a point guard over a 9-year career. Jackson changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1993 after recently converting to Islam and generated controversy by refusing to stand for the national anthem, viewing the American flag and the United States as symbols of oppression.

Dennis Scott

Dennis Scott was drafted 4th overall by the Orlando Magic and established himself as a very good outside shooter during his playing days, shooting 39.7% from 3-point range. Playing small forward for most of his career, Scott averaged 12.9 PPG and was a significant contributor to the 1994-1995 Orlando Magic team that made the NBA finals.

Kendall Gill

After being drafted with the 5th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets, Kendall Gill would amass several successful seasons as a starting shooting guard and small forward for several different teams, averaging 20.5 PPG in just his 2nd season. For his career, Gill averaged 13.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3 APG, and 1.6 SPG.

More Successful Than A Poor Reputation Indicates

Although the 1990 NBA draft is considered one of the most disappointing drafts of the 1990’s it still produced many successful players. 52 out of 54 1990 NBA draft picks ended up playing in at least one game, an incredibly high percentage for a draft during that era. Although Gary Payton was the only bona fide superstar to come out of the 1990 NBA draft class, many other players became good contributing starters or role players on playoff teams.