The 1991 NBA draft was the 45th in league history since its founding during the 1946-1947 season. The Charlotte Hornets, a recent expansion team that had amassed a disastrous 65-181 record in its 3 years of existence, won the NBA lottery and were awarded the 1st overall selection. The 1991 NBA draft marked the last time for a decade that the draft would be held in New York before returning to New York in 2001.
The 1991 NBA Draft
The 1991 NBA draft was a below-average draft by most accounts, failing to produce the overall depth of talent or high-level stardom of most drafts immediately preceding and following it. It did produce 7 players who make at least 1 all-star team, 2 players who made at least 1 All-NBA team, and 1 member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. However, of the 7 players who made an all-star team, 4 were named to just 1 all-star team and 2 were named to only 2 all-star teams.
Who won Rookie of the Year?
Larry Johnson won the 1991-1992 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. After being selected with the #1 overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets, Larry Johnson would go on to win rookie of the year with an outstanding individual season at the power forward position. He would become the Hornets’ first legitimate franchise player in the organization’s young history, averaging 19.2 PPG, 11 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1 SPG, and shooting 49% from the field and 82.9% from the free-throw line.
Johnson’s 1991-1992 rookie season is one of the forgotten great rookie seasons in NBA history, in part due to the Hornets being located in a small market and Johnson being overshadowed by Shaquille O’Neal’s historically great rookie season the following year.
The 1991 NBA Draft Class
- Larry Johnson (Charlotte Hornets)
- Kenny Anderson (New Jersey Nets)
- Billy Owens (Sacramento Kings)
- Dikembe Mutombo (Denver Nuggets)
- Steve Smith (Miami Heat)
- Doug Smith (Dallas Mavericks)
- Luc Longley (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Marc Macon (Denver Nuggets)
- Stacey Augmon (Atlanta Hawks)
- Brian Williams (Orlando Magic)
- Terrell Brandon (Cleveland Cavaliers)
NON LOTTERY FIRST ROUND PICKS
- Greg Anthony (New York Knicks)
- Dale Davis (Indiana Pacers)
- Rich King (Seatle SuperSonics)
- Anthony Avent (Atlanta Hawks)
- Chris Gatling (Golden State Warriors)
- Victor Alexander (Golden State Warriors)
- Kevin Brooks (Milwaukee Bucks)
- LaBradford Smith (Washinton Bullets)
- John Turner (Houston Rockets)
- Eric Murdock (Utah Jazz)
- LeRon Ellis (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Stanley Roberts (Orlando Magic)
- Rick Fox (Boston Celtics)
- Shaun Vandiver (Golden State Warriors)
- Mark Randall (Chicago Bulls)
- Pete Chilcutt (Sacramento Kings)
SECOND ROUND PICKS
- Kevin Lynch (Charlotte Hornets)
- George Ackles (Miami Heat)
- Rodney Monroe (Atlanta Hawks)
- Randy Brown (Sacramento Kings)
- Chad Gallagher (Phoenix Suns)
- Donald Hodge (Dallas Mavericks)
- Myron Brown (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Mike Iuzzolino (Dallas Mavericks)
- Chris Corchiani (Orlando Magic)
- Elliot Perry (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Joe Wylie (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Jimmy Oliver (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Doug Overton (Detroit Pistons)
- Sean Green (Indiana Pacers)
- Steve Hood (Sacramento Kings)
- Lamont Strothers (Golden State Warriors)
- Alvaro Teheran (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Bobby Phills (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Richard Dumas (Phoenix Suns)
- Keith Hughes (Houston Rockets)
- Isaac Austin (Utah Jazz)
- Greg Sutton (San Antonio Spurs)
- Joey Wright (Phoenix Suns)
- Zan Tabak (Houston Rockets)
- Anthony Jones (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Von McDade (New Jersey Nets)
- Marcus Kennedy (Portland Trail Blazers)
The Best Players from the 91 NBA Draft
After his great rookie season, Larry Johnson would spend 4 more seasons with the Hornets, averaging 19.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 4.1 APG and shooting 49.6% from the field. He never became the franchise-changing superstar indicative of his #1 draft pick status, and often clashed with teammate Alonzo Mourning, who the Hornets drafted the following year.
As a result, despite having 2 of the best young stars in the game and one of the league’s most formidable front-courts, the Hornets would only win 1 playoff series during their time together. Johnson was traded to the New York Knicks after his 5th season with the Hornets, where he would spend the remaining 5 seasons of his career in a more reduced role as a starter.
Johnson was a part of the 1998-1999 Knicks team that made a shocking run to the NBA finals as a #8 seed, before losing in 5 games to the San Antonio Spurs. Johnson was named to 2 all-star teams and the All-NBA 2nd team once during his 10-year career.
Kenny Anderson was the #2 overall pick by the New Jersey Nets but played only 17 MPG his rookie season primarily as a backup point guard. However, by his 3rd season, Anderson had developed into one of the best young point guards in the NBA, averaging 18.8 PPG, 9.6 APG, 3.9 RPG, and 1.9 SPG.
Anderson starred alongside fellow teammate Derrick Coleman, giving the Nets one of the best young inside-outside combinations in the NBA. Unfortunately, Anderson was never able to replicate the great success of his 3rd season, at times being sidelined by injuries and also being traded several different times throughout his career, preventing him from establishing a consistent repertoire with a franchise.
Anderson was named to 1 all-star team during his career, the 1994 all-star game, where he and fellow teammate Derrick Coleman both represented the Eastern Conference team.
After being selected 4th overall by the Denver Nuggets, Dikembe Mutombo established himself as the best defensive center of the 1990s. He was by far, the best player of the 1991 NBA draft class, accounting for half of the total all-star appearances for the class as a whole.
Mutombo played for 6 different teams over an 18-year career and helped contribute to many successful playoff runs. He helped the #8 seeded Denver Nuggets upset the #1 seeded Seattle SuperSonics during the 1994 NBA playoffs, the first time in NBA history that a #8 seed upset a #1 seed. He also was the 2nd best player on the 2000-2001 Philadelphia 76ers team that made the NBA finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Mutombo was named to 8 all-star teams, the All-Defensive 1st team 3 times, the All-Defensive 2nd team 3 times, the All-NBA 2nd Team once, and the All-NBA 3rd Team twice. He was a 4-time defensive player of the year, led the league in blocks 5 times, and led the league in rebounds 4 times. Mutombo was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
Steve Smith was drafted by the Miami Heat with the 5th pick in the draft and developed into a good shooting guard for several different teams throughout his career. He was a major contributor to the 1999-2000 Portland Trail Blazers team that reached the 2000 Western Conference Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 7 games and won an NBA championship with the 2002-2003 San Antonio Spurs. Smith averaged 14.3 PPG for his career and was named an all-star during the 1997-1998 NBA season.
Terrell Brandon was drafted with the #11 pick in the draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and gradually transitioned from a backup point guard to a starter over a 6-year run with the Cavs. Brandon also spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks and eventually the Minnesota Timberwolves where he played alongside Kevin Garnett on a perennial playoff team. Brandon averaged 13.8 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 1.6 SPG for his career and was named to 2 all-star teams.
After being drafted 13th overall by the Indiana Pacers, Dale Davis became a solid starting power forward and center over his career. He is best known for being one of the 3 primary big men, along with Rik Smits and Antonio Davis, on the 1990s Indiana Pacers teams that featured hall of fame guard Reggie Miller and went on many extended playoff runs. Davis averaged 8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 1.2 BPG, and was named to 1 all-star game.
Chris Gatling was selected 16th overall by the Golden State Warriors and would play for 8 different teams over an 11-year career as a power forward and center. During the 1994-1995 NBA season Gatling shot 63.3 % from the field, at the time, the 7th highest single-season field goal percentage in NBA history. He averaged 10.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG for his career and was named an NBA all-star during the 1996-1997 NBA season.
Dikembe Mutombo Was The Brightest Spot of The Draft
The 1991 NBA draft class was a below-average class compared to most other drafts throughout the 1990s. While it did produce 7 players who eventually made an all-star team, only 3 of these players became multiple-time all-stars. Dikembe Mutombo was the biggest bright spot of the draft, establishing himself as one of the best defensive big men of his era in the NBA.