1984 NBA Draft: Best First Round Ever?
This was the last draft to be held prior to forming the NBA Draft Lottery for the following season. The picks were assigned in reverse order of how the teams had finished the previous season. The draft was actually ten rounds long, which seems excessive considering the two rounds total of this year’s draft.
It’s amazing how talented and similar as far as impact the classes of 1984 and 1985 were. It was undoubtedly the most talented two year run in draft history. Picking a better class between ’84 and ’85 is difficult.
In 1984’s class, four of the first 16 picks eventually became Hall of Famers; Olajuwon, Jordan, Barkley and Stockton. In 1985’s, four of the first 18 did; Ewing, Mullin, Malone and Dumars.
15 of the 24 picks in 1984 played eight or more years, 19 of the 24 picks in 1985 did. The 1985 draft contained two future league MVPs while 1984 (just like the class of 1996) contained three future league MVP’s; Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley. Seven of the 24 picks in 1984 became NBA All Stars, while nine of the 24 picks in 1985 accomplished All-Star status.
A few of the better picks:
- Akeem Olajuwon at one
- Michael Jordan at three
- Sam Perkins at four
- Charles Barkley at five
- Alvin Robertson at seven
- Otis Thorpe at nine
- Kevin Willis at 11
- John Stockton at 16
A few solid picks that weren’t great:
- Jay Humphries at 13
- Michael Cage at 14
- Vern Fleming at 18
A few that didn’t pan out:
- Mel Turpin at six
- Lancaster Gordon at eight
- Leon Wood at 10
Any discussion of the 1984 Draft would be incomplete without touching on the Portland Trailblazers selection of Kentucky big man Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. People often look back and laugh about this and Portland took a lot of heat for several years over the decision, but when you really break it down, it’s not hard to see why Portland did what they did.
7-1 inch centers who are fresh off dominating one of the best conferences in the collegiate ranks don’t grow on trees. The success the Rockets had with drafting Ralph Sampson the previous year and how it changed the franchise in one season was hard to ignore and undoubtedly had some impact in the decision. Plus, Bowie had outplayed Sampson in high school.
Also consider that the Blazers at the time were solid at guard. They had drafted Clyde Drexler the year before and their point guard Jim Paxson was coming off any All-Star year, so it wasn’t as if they snubbed Jordan by not picking him.
Plus, Bowie wasn’t awful; he averaged 10.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 2.7 bpg in 29 mpg as a rookie. The he got hurt and was limited from then on out, though he actually had a couple of solid seasons (14.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg in 90-91; 15.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg in 91-92) before injuries finally derailed him.
Was the first round of 1984 NBA Draft the best in NBA history?