A Look Back: 1990 NBA Draft
Posted on November 15 2020
In preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft on Nov. 18, The Chucker, 19nine’s resident historian, takes us back to milestone drafts of the past. Today, the 1990 Draft. That night in New York, a bevy of high-volume shooters heard their names called though a player who largely made his mark on the defensive end emerged the best in this draft class.
Pre-draft Buzz: Will college game scoring prowess translate to the professional ranks? The 1990 draft was heavy in scorers. Bo Kimble averaged more than 35 per game for Loyola Marymount, while Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (then known as Chris Jackson) and Dennis Scott both dropped in more than 27 per contest at Louisiana State and Georgia Tech, respectively.
The Top Pick: At the head of the draft, the New Jersey Nets selected Syracuse forward Derrick Coleman. Sports Illustrated summed up Coleman’s career this way: “DC enjoyed a 15-year career, averaging a double-double five different times, while making the All-Star team in ‘94. That’s nothing to sneeze at, unless you consider that he did all this while expending the least amount of effort possible, gliding by on an NBA-ready body and a superior touch. He also drove a series of coaches to the unemployment line and to multiple types of therapy. Coleman could have been the best power forward ever; instead, he played just well enough to ensure his next paycheck.” Ouch! In 19nine’s “Tales from the Bench” series, former Syracuse teammate Joe Kohm shares his own memories of Coleman.
The Top Pro: No one in the Draft class of 1990 comes close to Gary Payton. The Hall of Famer from Oregon State, chosen second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, was a nine-time All-NBA selection and particularly known for his defensive prowress. “The Glove” made nine All-Defensive teams and was the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year. (Though MJ hilariously reminded us in “The Last Dance” that he “had no problem with The Glove.”)
The Highest-Picked Who: After averaging 31.2 points per game as a senior at Ohio University, second in the nation to Loyola Marymount’s Kimble, the sharpshooting Jamerson was tabbed by Miami with the 15th pick. He played but 90 games over three seasons for the Rockets, Jazz, and Nets. Now a pastor in Texas, he has joked: “Having to guard Magic Johnson for three games made me turn to God.”
Notable Names: The 1990 Draft ultimately featured a collection of solid pros, though Payton was the only star. Beyond Payton, the draft class featured five others who made All-Star game appearances: Coleman, Cedric Ceballos, Antonio Davis, Tyrone Hill, and Jayson Williams. In fact, 52 of the 54 selections logged NBA time.
The Hidden Gem: Deep in the second round, pick #45, the Pacers selected UTEP big man Antonio Davis, a college teammate of Tim Hardaway. Davis, however, played three years overseas before joining the Pacers in 1993. Davis played 13 NBA seasons and made one All-Star appearance.
Drop Knowledge on Your Boys: International selections pepper contemporary drafts. Way back in 1990, however, no international product was selected in the first round. With the second choice in the second round, #29 overall, the Bulls grabbed Toni Kukoc from Croatia. The 6-10 forward debuted for the Bulls in 1993, won the NBA Sixth Man Award in 1996, and captured three NBA titles with the Bulls.
19nine Connection: The #4 pick of the Orlando Magic, Dennis Scott starred at Georgia Tech, where he was part of the Yellow Jackets’ famed – and Final Four bound – Lethal Weapon 3 attack alongside Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver.