1981 NBA draft

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1981 NBA draft
General information
Date(s) June 9, 1981
Location New York City
Network(s) (US) USA Network
First selection Mark Aguirre, Dallas Mavericks
NBA draft
1980 1982 >
A man, wearing a blue jersey with a word "PISTONS" and the number "23" written in the front, is trying to dunk a basketball.
Mark Aguirre was selected first overall by the Dallas Mavericks.

The 1981 NBA draft was the 35th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on June 9, 1981, before the 1981–82 season. The draft was broadcast in the United States on the USA Network.[1] In this draft, 23 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip.[2] The Dallas Mavericks won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Detroit Pistons were awarded the second pick.[3] The remaining first-round picks and the subsequent rounds were assigned to teams in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was automatically eligible for selection. Before the draft, five college underclassmen announced that they would leave college early and would be eligible for selection.[4] The draft consisted of 10 rounds comprising the selection of 223 players.

The Dallas Mavericks used their first pick to draft 1980 Naismith College Player of the Year Mark Aguirre from DePaul University. Aguirre, who had just finished his junior season in college, became the second underclassman to be drafted first overall, after Magic Johnson in 1979. The Detroit Pistons used the second overall pick to draft Isiah Thomas, a sophomore guard from Indiana University. Thomas had just won the 1981 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship with Indiana and was named as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The New Jersey Nets used the third pick to draft another underclassman, Buck Williams, from the University of Maryland. Williams went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award and was also selected to the All-Star Game in his rookie season.[5] This draft marked the first time that the first three selections were college underclassmen.[6] Danny Ainge, the 1981 Wooden College Player of the Year, was selected in the second round with the 31st pick by the Boston Celtics.[7] Ainge had been playing professional baseball since 1979 with the Toronto Blue Jays in the Major League Baseball (MLB) while also playing college basketball at Brigham Young University. He reportedly preferred to continue his baseball career, but the Celtics successfully persuaded him to play basketball instead.[8][9][10] He is one of only twelve athletes who have played in both the NBA and MLB.[11][12][13]

Key[edit]

Pos. G F C
Position Guard Forward Center
^ Denotes player who has been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
* Denotes player who has been selected for at least one All-Star Game and All-NBA Team
+ Denotes player who has been selected for at least one All-Star Game
# Denotes player who never played in the NBA regular season or playoffs

Draft[edit]

A man, wearing a black suit and white shirt, is standing on a basketball court while shouting and pointing at someone outside the picture.
Isiah Thomas was selected second overall by the Detroit Pistons.
A man, wearing a white jersey, is shooting a basketball.
Albert King was selected 10th overall by the New Jersey Nets.
A man, wearing a red shirt, is holding a red basketball jersey with a word "JOHNSON" and the number "8" written in the front.
Eddie Johnson was selected 29th overall by the Kansas City Kings.
Round Pick Player Pos. Nationality Team School/club team
1 1 Aguirre, MarkMark Aguirre+ G/F  United States Dallas Mavericks DePaul (Jr.)
1 2 Thomas, IsiahIsiah Thomas^ G  United States Detroit Pistons Indiana (So.)
1 3 Williams, BuckBuck Williams* F/C  United States New Jersey Nets Maryland (Jr.)
1 4 Wood, AlAl Wood G/F  United States Atlanta Hawks (from Cleveland via Philadelphia, Portland and Chicago)[a] North Carolina (Sr.)
1 5 Vranes, DannyDanny Vranes F  United States Seattle SuperSonics (from Utah)[b] Utah (Sr.)
1 6 Woolridge, OrlandoOrlando Woolridge F  United States Chicago Bulls (from Atlanta)[a] Notre Dame (Sr.)
1 7 Johnson, SteveSteve Johnson+ F/C  United States Kansas City Kings (from Seattle via New York)[c] Oregon State (Sr.)
1 8 Chambers, TomTom Chambers* F/C  United States San Diego Clippers Utah (Sr.)
1 9 Blackman, RolandoRolando Blackman+ G  Panama
 United States1[›]
Dallas Mavericks (from Denver)[d] Kansas State (Sr.)
1 10 King, AlbertAlbert King G/F  United States New Jersey Nets (from Golden State via Portland)[e] Maryland (Sr.)
1 11 Johnson, FrankFrank Johnson G  United States Washington Bullets Wake Forest (Sr.)
1 12 Tripucka, KellyKelly Tripucka+ G/F  United States Detroit Pistons (from Kansas City)[f] Notre Dame (Sr.)
1 13 Schayes, DannyDanny Schayes F/C  United States Utah Jazz (from Houston)[g] Syracuse (Sr.)
1 14 Williams, HerbHerb Williams F/C  United States Indiana Pacers Ohio State (Sr.)
1 15 Lamp, JeffJeff Lamp G/F  United States Portland Trail Blazers Virginia (Sr.)
1 16 Valentine, DarnellDarnell Valentine G  United States Portland Trail Blazers (from Chicago)[a] Kansas (Sr.)
1 17 Loder, KevinKevin Loder G/F  United States Kansas City Kings (from New York via Cleveland)[h] Alabama State (Sr.)
1 18 Tolbert, RayRay Tolbert F  United States New Jersey Nets (from San Antonio)[i] Indiana (Sr.)
1 19 McGee, MikeMike McGee G/F  United States Los Angeles Lakers Michigan (Sr.)
1 20 Nance, LarryLarry Nance+ F/C  United States Phoenix Suns Clemson (Sr.)
1 21 Lister, AltonAlton Lister F/C  United States Milwaukee Bucks Arizona State(Sr.)
1 22 Edwards, FranklinFranklin Edwards G  United States Philadelphia 76ers Cleveland State (Sr.)
1 23 Bradley, CharlesCharles Bradley G  United States Boston Celtics Wyoming (Sr.)
2 24 Vincent, JayJay Vincent F  United States Dallas Mavericks Michigan State (Sr.)
2 25 Jackson, TracyTracy Jackson G/F  United States Boston Celtics (from Detroit)[j] Notre Dame (Sr.)
2 26 Jackson, BrianBrian Jackson# F  United States Portland Trail Blazers (from New Jersey via Indiana)[k] Utah State (Sr.)
2 27 Wood, HowardHoward Wood F  United States Utah Jazz Tennessee (Sr.)
2 28 Banks, GeneGene Banks G/F  United States San Antonio Spurs (from Cleveland via Los Angeles and Chicago)[l] Duke (Sr.)
2 29 Johnson, EddieEddie Johnson G/F  United States Kansas City Kings (from Atlanta)[m] Illinois (Sr.)
2 30 Rains, EdEd Rains F  United States San Antonio Spurs (from Seattle via Chicago)[l] South Alabama (Sr.)
2 31 Ainge, DannyDanny Ainge+ G/F  United States Boston Celtics (from San Diego)[n] Brigham Young (Sr.)
2 32 Olliver, MikeMike Olliver# G  United States Chicago Bulls (from Denver,[o] traded to Indiana)[A] Lamar (Sr.)
2 33 Williams, SamSam Williams F  United States Golden State Warriors (from Washington)[p] Arizona State (Sr.)
2 34 Green, KenKen Green F  United States Denver Nuggets (from Golden State via Utah)[q] Pan American (Sr.)
2 35 Davis, CharlesCharles Davis F  United States Washington Bullets (from Houston)[r] Vanderbilt (Sr.)
2 36 Blume, RayRay Blume G  United States Indiana Pacers (from Kansas City via Cleveland,[h] traded to Chicago)[A] Oregon State (Sr.)
2 37 Leslie, AlAl Leslie# G  United States Indiana Pacers Bucknell (Sr.)
2 38 Bradshaw, ClydeClyde Bradshaw# G  United States Atlanta Hawks (from Chicago)[a] DePaul (Sr.)
2 39 Knuckles, HarveyHarvey Knuckles# F  United States Los Angeles Lakers (from Portland via Detroit)[s] Toledo (Sr.)
2 40 Cook, GregGreg Cook# F  United States New York Knicks LSU (Sr.)
2 41 Gregory, ClaudeClaude Gregory F  United States Washington Bullets (from San Antonio)[t] Wisconsin (Sr.)
2 42 Rolle, ElvisElvis Rolle# F/C  United States Los Angeles Lakers Florida State (Sr.)
2 43 Turner, ElstonElston Turner G/F  United States Dallas Mavericks (from Phoenix)[u] Mississippi (Sr.)
2 44 Lingenfelter, SteveSteve Lingenfelter F  United States Washington Bullets (from Milwaukee via Kansas City and New Jersey)[v] South Dakota State (Sr.)
2 45 Turner, EdEd Turner# F  United States Houston Rockets (from Boston)[w] Texas A&I (Sr.)
2 46 Smith, VernonVernon Smith# F  United States Philadelphia 76ers Texas A&M (Sr.)

Notable post-second round picks[edit]

Jay Triano, the 179th pick, never played in the NBA but was the head coach of NBA team Toronto Raptors from 2008 to 2011 and has coached in the NBA since 2002.

The following list includes other draft picks who have appeared in at least one NBA game or have made other significant contributions to basketball.

Round Pick Player Pos. Nationality Team School/club team
3 49 Burns, DavidDavid Burns G  United States New Jersey Nets Saint Louis (Sr.)
3 52 Macklin, RudyRudy Macklin G/F  United States Atlanta Hawks LSU (Sr.)
3 53 Radford, MarkMark Radford G  United States Seattle SuperSonics Oregon State (Sr.)
3 54 Smith, JimJim Smith F  United States San Diego Clippers Ohio State (Sr.)
3 55 Dillard, MickeyMickey Dillard G  United States Cleveland Cavaliers (from Denver)[x] Florida State (Sr.)
3 57 Brickowski, FrankFrank Brickowski F/C  United States New York Knicks (from Washington)[y] Penn State (Sr.)
3 61 Guðmundsson, PéturPétur Guðmundsson C  Iceland Portland Trail Blazers Washington (Sr.)
3 66 Dykema, CraigCraig Dykema F  United States Phoenix Suns Long Beach State (Sr.)
4 72 Sherod, EdmundEdmund Sherod G  United States New Jersey Nets VCU (Sr.)
4 76 Lloyd, LewisLewis Lloyd G/F  United States Golden State Warriors (from Seattle)[z] Drake (Sr.)
4 78 Dennard, KennyKenny Dennard F  United States Kansas City Kings (from Denver)[aa] Duke (Sr.)
4 81 Spriggs, LarryLarry Spriggs F  United States Houston Rockets Howard (Sr.)
4 85 Verhoeven, PeterPeter Verhoeven F  United States Portland Trail Blazers Fresno State (Sr.)
4 86 Bradley, AlexAlex Bradley F  United States New York Knicks Villanova (Sr.)
4 88 McKenna, KevinKevin McKenna G/F  United States Los Angeles Lakers Creighton (Sr.)
5 95 Cooper, JoeJoe Cooper F/C  United States New Jersey Nets Colorado (Sr.)
5 102 McDowell, HankHank McDowell F/C  United States Golden State Warriors Memphis State (Sr.)
5 103 Witts, GarryGarry Witts G/F  United States Washington Bullets Holy Cross (Sr.)
6 130 Burkman, RogerRoger Burkman G  United States Chicago Bulls Louisville (Sr.)
7 150 Wheeler, ClintonClinton Wheeler G  United States Kansas City Kings William Paterson (Sr.)
8 165 Cattage, BobbyBobby Cattage F  United States Utah Jazz Auburn (Sr.)
8 179 Triano, JayJay Triano# F  Canada Los Angeles Lakers Simon Fraser (Sr.)
10 211 Rowland, DerrickDerrick Rowland G  United States Denver Nuggets Potsdam State (Sr.)

Trades[edit]

Draft-day trades[edit]

The following trades involving drafted players were made on the day of the draft.

Pre-draft trades[edit]

Prior to the day of the draft, the following trades were made and resulted in exchanges of picks between the teams.

  • a 1 2 3 4 On June 8, 1981, the Atlanta Hawks acquired a 1981 first-round pick and a 1981 second-round pick from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for a 1981 first-round pick, a 1982 second-round pick and an option to swap 1982 first-round draft picks.[15] Previously, the Bulls acquired the draft rights to Ronnie Lester and the first-round pick on June 10, 1980 from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for the draft rights to Kelvin Ransey and a 1981 first-round pick.[16] Previously, the Blazers acquired the pick on February 8, 1980 from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Lionel Hollins.[17] Previously, the 76ers acquired the pick and a 1983 first-round pick on October 3, 1977 from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Terry Furlow.[18] The Hawks used the picks to draft Al Wood and Clyde Bradshaw. The Bulls used the pick to draft Orlando Woolridge. The Blazers used the pick to draft Darnell Valentine.
  • c September 25, 1980, the Kansas City Kings acquired Joe Meriweather and a first-round pick from the New York Knicks in a three-team trade with the Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers.[20] Previously, the Knicks acquired a first-round pick on October 4, 1978 from the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for Lonnie Shelton and a 1979 first-round pick. This trade was arranged as compensation when the Knicks signed Marvin Webster on September 29, 1978.[21] The Kings used the pick to draft Steve Johnson.
  • f On June 12, 1980, the Detroit Pistons acquired a first-round pick from the Kansas City Kings as compensation for the signing of Leon Douglas as a free agent.[25] The Pistons used the pick to draft Kelly Tripucka.
  • g On September 21, 1978, the Utah Jazz acquired a first-round pick from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Slick Watts.[19] The Jazz used the pick to draft Danny Schayes.
  • h 1 2 On June 8, 1981, the Indiana Pacers acquired 1981 and 1982 second-round picks on June 8, 1981 from the Cleveland Cavaliers. This trade was arranged as compensation when the Cavaliers signed James Edwards on May 25, 1981.[26] Previously, the Kansas City Kings acquired a first-round pick on June 8, 1981 from the Cavaliers in exchange for the second-round pick. This trade was arranged as compensation when the Cavaliers signed Scott Wedman.[27] Previously, the Cavaliers acquired the first-round pick on May 20, 1981 from the New York Knicks in exchange for Randy Smith.[28] The Kings used the pick to draft Kevin Loder. The Pacers used the pick to draft Ray Blume.
  • i On August 15, 1980, the New Jersey Nets acquired a first-round pick from the San Antonio Spurs as compensation for the signing of George Johnson as a free agent.[29] The Nets used the pick to draft Ray Tolbert.
  • k On October 9, 1979, the Portland Trail Blazers acquired a second-round pick from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Clemon Johnson.[31] Previously, the Pacers acquired Bob Carrington, 1980 and 1981 second-round picks on January 27, 1978 from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for John Williamson.[32] The Blazers used the pick to draft Brian Jackson.
  • l 1 2 On September 12, 1980, the San Antonio Spurs acquired two second-round picks from the Chicago Bulls as compensation for the signing of Larry Kenon as a free agent.[33] Previously, the Bulls acquired one of the pick on August 8, 1980 from the Seattle SuperSonics as compensation for the signing of Dennis Awtrey as a free agent.[34] Previously, the Bulls acquired Oliver Mack, 1980 and 1981 second-round picks on February 13, 1980 from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Mark Landsberger.[35] Previously, the Lakers acquired 1980 and 1981 second-round picks on October 24, 1979 from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kenny Carr.[36] The Spurs used the picks to draft Gene Banks and Ed Rains.
  • m On July 8, 1980, the Kansas City Kings acquired a second-round pick from the Atlanta Hawks as compensation for the signing of Tommy Burleson as a free agent.[37] Previously, the Hawks acquired a 1980 second-round pick and re-acquired their second-round pick on November 23, 1979 from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Terry Furlow.[18] Previously, the Jazz acquired the pick and a 1980 second-round pick on October 10, 1979 from the Hawks in exchange for Ron Lee.[38] The Kings used the pick to draft Eddie Johnson.
  • o On June 9, 1980, the Chicago Bulls acquired a second-round pick from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Cedrick Hordges.[40] The Bulls used the pick to draft Mike Olliver.
  • p On June 10, 1980, the Golden State Warriors acquired a second-round pick from the Washington Bullets in exchange for the draft rights to Jeff Ruland.[41] The Warriors used the pick to draft Sam Williams.
  • q On September 11, 1980, the Denver Nuggets acquired Wayne Cooper and a second-round pick from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Bernard King.[42] Previously, the Jazz acquired the pick and a 1980 third-round pick on October 9, 1979 from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Robert Smith.[43] The Nuggets used the pick to draft Ken Green.
  • r On June 8, 1981, the Washington Bullets acquired 1981 and 1983 second-round picks from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Elvin Hayes.[44] The Bullets used the pick to draft Charles Davis.
  • s On October 1, 1980, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired a second-round pick from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Wayne Robinson.[45] Previously, the Pistons acquired a second-round pick on September 18, 1979 from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Jim Brewer.[46] The Lakers used the pick to draft Harvey Knuckles.
  • t On September 26, 1980, the Washington Bullets acquired 1981 and 1982 second-round picks from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Dave Corzine.[47] The Bullets used the pick to draft Claude Gregory.
  • u On June 9, 1980, the Dallas Mavericks acquired a second-round pick from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Wiley Peck.[48] The Mavericks used the pick to draft Elston Turner.
  • v On February 4, 1980, the Washington Bullets acquired John Williamson and a second-round pick from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Roger Phegley.[32] Previously, the Nets acquired Otis Birdsong and the pick on June 8, 1981 from the Kansas City Kings in exchange for Cliff Robinson.[49] Previously, the Kings acquired the pick on June 19, 1980 from the Milwaukee Bucks as compensation for the signing of Len Elmore as a free agent.[50] The Bullets used the pick to draft Steve Lingenfelter.
  • w On June 28, 1978, the Houston Rockets acquired a second-round pick from the Boston Celtics as compensation for the signing of Kevin Kunnert as a free agent.[51] The Rockets used the pick to draft Ed Turner.
  • x On October 31, 1980, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Kim Hughes, a 1981 third-round pick and a 1982 second-round pick from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Dave Robisch.[52] The Cavaliers used the pick to draft Mickey Dillard.
  • y On December 4, 1979, the New York Knicks acquired a third-round pick from the Washington Bullets in exchange for Jim Cleamons.[53] The Knicks used the pick to draft Frank Brickowski.
  • z On November 3, 1980, the Golden State Warriors acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for Rudy White.[54] The Warriors used the pick to draft Lewis Lloyd.
  • aa On July 10, 1978, the Kansas City Kings acquired a fourth-round pick from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Geoff Crompton.[55] The Kings used the pick to draft Kenny Dennard.

Draftee career notes[edit]

Isiah Thomas is the only player from this draft who has been inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.[56] He was also named in the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list announced at the league's 50th anniversary in 1996.[57] He spent his entire 13-year career with the Detroit Pistons and won two NBA championships. He also one Finals Most Valuable Player Award, five consecutive All-NBA Team selections and twelve consecutive All-Star Game selections.[58] After retiring as a player, Thomas went on to have a coaching career with the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks.[59] Mark Aguirre, the first pick, won two NBA championships with Thomas and the Pistons. His other achievements include three All-Star Game selections.[60] Buck Williams, the third pick, was selected to one All-NBA Team, three All-Star Games and four All-Defensive Teams.[5] Tom Chambers, the eighth pick, was selected to two All-NBA Teams and four All-Star Games.[61] Five other players from this draft, seventh pick Steve Johnson, ninth pick Rolando Blackman, 12th pick Kelly Tripucka, 20th pick Larry Nance and 31st pick Danny Ainge, were also selected to at least one All-Star Game each.[7][62][63][64][65] Eddie Johnson, the 29th pick, is the only other player from this draft who has won an annual NBA award as a player; he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1989.[66] Aside from Thomas, four other players drafted also went on to have coaching careers in the NBA: Danny Ainge, 11th pick Frank Johnson, 14th pick Herb Williams and 179th pick Jay Triano.[67][68][69][70]

In the seventh round, the Golden State Warriors used the 171st pick to selected Yasutaka Okayama, a Japanese basketball player who was measured at 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m) and 330 pounds (150 kg).[71][72] Okayama, who attended and played junior varsity basketball at the University of Portland for one and a half years in 1976 as an exchange student, declined to try out for the Warriors and never played in the NBA.[73] He is the tallest person ever drafted and would have been the tallest player in the NBA had he played in the league.[74] The San Diego Clippers used their last pick in the draft, the 210th pick, to draft Tony Gwynn, who starred at both baseball and basketball at San Diego State University.[71] Gwynn was also selected in the 1981 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He opted to play baseball and ended up playing 20 seasons with the Padres. He received multiple awards and honors during his playing career, is one of only 28 players in MLB history with 3,000 career hits, and was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame at his first opportunity in 2007.[75] Kenny Easley, a college football star from the University of California, Los Angeles, was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 216th pick in the 10th round.[76] Easley, who was selected fourth in the 1981 National Football League (NFL) Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, played seven seasons with the Seahawks and received several awards and honors before retiring in 1988 due to kidney problems that eventually led to a transplant.[77][78]

Notes[edit]

^ 1: Rolando Blackman was born in Panama, but grew up in the United States and has represented the United States national team.[79][80]

References[edit]

General
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