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Rating the 1984 draft

The NBA draft of 15 years ago will rate as one of its finest. After all, it welcomed into the league Michael Jordan. As if that were not enough, it also featured three other college stars — Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton — who would go on to Hall of Fame careers. Among them, the four honor students from the Class of ’84 have eight NBA championships, eight MVP awards, and 11 NBA Finals appearances.


  • Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets): A
    A small forward in a center’s body, Olajuwon has been all that a No. 1 pick is expected to be — and more, with his two championship rings.

  • Sam Bowie (Trail Blazers): D
    The most regrettable selection in NBA history? Injury-prone big man blazed a trail to the trainer’s room, sitting out 189 games first four seasons.

  • Michael Jordan (Bulls): A+
    The resume: Six NBA championships, five MVP awards, six Finals MVP trophies, and 10 scoring titles. The best to ever play the game.

  • Sam Perkins (Mavericks): B
    M.J.’s teammate at North Carolina, Perkins has been a reliable 3-point shooter, and has improved on his regular-season scoring average in six postseasons.

  • Charles Barkley (76ers): A-
    Crazy quotes, barroom brawls, and failure to win a championship shouldn’t overshadow an excellent career. An outstanding playoff performer who isn’t afraid to play hurt.

  • Mel Turpin (Bullets): F
    The only thing he could post up was the room service menu on a hotel room wall. If he’d only shown hunger on the court, “Dinner Bell” Mel would have lasted more than five seasons.

  • Alvin Robertson (Spurs): B
    Decent offensive skills but quickly earned his reputation as a defensive specialist. Ranks fifth among the all-time steals leaders.

  • Lancaster Gordon (Clippers): D-
    The shooting guard out of Louisville was expected to complement floor leader Norm Nixon, but averaged an anemic 5.6 points in a four-year career.

  • Otis Thorpe (Kings): B
    Solid rebounder who can play both forward positions and was an important part of the Houston Rockets’ first march to the NBA title, in ’93-’94.

  • Leon Wood (76ers): D
    Six must be his unlucky number. Played for six teams in six seasons and averaged just over six points a game before being deep-sixed.

  • Kevin Willis (Hawks): B
    Dominque Wilkins’ co-star on some of those fun-to-watch Atlanta teams of the ’80s. A fiery rebounder with a monster physique and a reliable baby hook.

  • Tim McCormick (Cavaliers): C-
    Typical NBA journeyman: xix teams in eight seasons, an 8.3 career scoring average, and no lasting impression in any port of call.

  • Jay Humphries (Suns): C
    One of the more overlooked members of the bunch. Did nothing great but must have been doing something right if he lasted more than a decade.

  • Michael Cage (Clippers): C+
    A limited offensive player, but a serious defensive presence and excellent on the glass. Led the league in rebounding in 1988.

  • Terence Stansbury (Mavericks): D
    Came out of Temple with lots of promise but averaged a mere 6.3 points in two seasons with Indiana and one with Seattle.

  • John Stockton (Jazz): A
    The all-time assists leader, a nine-time All-Star, and one of the most tenacious defenders in the game. How successful would Utah, and Karl Malone, have been without him?

  • Jeff Turner (Nets): D
    The ’84 Olympian was thought to be the player to spell Buck Williams, but didn’t score OR rebound. Spent three seasons in the Meadowlands before heading to Orlando.

  • Vern Fleming (Pacers): C
    An inconsistent career spent toiling with some inconsistent Indiana teams. Averaged 13.6 points over his first seven seasons, but never reached double figures again after that.

  • Bernard Thompson (Trail Blazers): D
    Put up 3.3 points and grabbed 1.3 rebounds his rookie season and was out of town the next year. Do you think this is a draft Portland management would like to forget?

  • Tony Campbell (Pistons): C+
    Sandwiched three good years in Minnesota, ’89-’92, around disappointng stints with the Pistons, Lakers, Knicks, Mavericks, and Cavaliers.

  • Kenny Fields (Bucks): D
    Played both forward spots at UCLA, but made no impact with the Bucks and Clippers before quietly fading into obscurity after four seasons.

  • Tom Sewell (76ers): F
    Played 21 games, averaging one point. Do any of his teammates on the ’84-’85 Bullets even remember suiting up with him?

  • Earl Jones (Lakers): F
    A career that spanned a whopping . . . 14 games. The 7-footer was drafted to be a potential replacement for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but at 210 pounds, he couldn’t have boxed out Chick Hearn.

  • Michael Young (Celtics): F
    Talk about unfulfilled potential. The 6-7 swingman led the Houston Cougars in scoring as a member of Phi Slama Jamma, but played in only 49 NBA games.




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