1974 NBA Draft (The Ultimate Guide)

The 1974 NBA Draft stands as an important event that produced many of its greatest players of all-time, many Hall-of-Famers – and eventually, even its best player ever, who was selected first overall! We take an in-depth look at this landmark event through its history, notable players, and lasting effects.

The historic 1974 NBA Draft took place in New York City on May 28, 1974.

At Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum, 18 teams selected players over ten rounds. The draft order was determined through a coin flip, with Portland Trail Blazers winning first overall pick.

The 1974 NBA Draft took place during an important transitional phase for the league following its merger with ABA teams. Many talented college and international prospects began making waves within their new league upon selection at this draft.

Notable Players

The 1974 NBA Draft featured many All-Stars and Hall-of-Famers who went on to achieve success as All-Stars or Hall of Famers. Here are some notable names picked in that draft:

Bill Walton

(1st overall pick for Portland Trail Blazers, selected first overall)

Bill Walton
Bill Walton became a legend of the sport

Bill Walton was an unrivaled superstar of the 1974 NBA Draft. Assumed to have won a coin flip between Portland Trail Blazers and UCLA to land the first overall pick, Walton became an instantaneous success during college, leading UCLA to back-to-back national championships between 1972 and 1973.

Walton made an immediate, impactful debut for Portland in his rookie season, averaging 12.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game despite suffering injuries that limited him to only 468 games over 13 seasons. Yet even through these setbacks, he remains one of the greats, winning two NBA championships, an MVP award, and ultimately being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

Maurice Lucas

(Chicago Bulls; 14th overall pick)

Maurice Lucas
Maurice Lucas won a championship title in 1977

Maurice Lucas of Marquette University was selected with the 14th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls, making an immediate and dramatic impactful contribution for them, averaging 13.7 points and 11.3. rebounds per game during his rookie campaign.

Lucas enjoyed an outstanding basketball career, earning five NBA All-Star selections and an NBA championship title with Portland Trail Blazers in 1977. Known for his aggressive physical play style and physicality, he quickly earned himself the moniker “The Enforcer.”

George Gervin

(Virginia Squires; 4th round pick)

George Gervin
George Gervin made over nine NBA All-Star teams

George Gervin was one of the premier players selected in the 1974 NBA Draft, yet he wasn’t picked until round four when Virginia Squires of the ABA selected him with the 40th overall selection.

Gervin played two seasons with the American Basketball Association before it merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1976, becoming an icon on the San Antonio Spurs team known as “The Iceman.” Gervin became known for his calm yet effortless playing style, which earned him this nickname. He secured over nine NBA All-Star selections and four league championship titles.

Tom McMillen

(Buffalo Braves; 9th overall pick)

Tom McMillen
Tom McMillen was hot property in his college Basketball days

Tom McMillen was chosen ninth overall in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Buffalo Braves and became one of the highly touted prospects out of the University of Maryland, where he won two-time All-America honors. McMillen played with Buffalo for three seasons until being traded to New York Knicks.

Bobby Jones

(Houston Rockets; 5th round)

Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones was a stalwart defensively

Bobby Jones was selected in the fifth round by Houston Rockets during the 1974 NBA Draft. Jones excelled as an all-around player while at the University of North Carolina before going on to enjoy success as both an NBA and ABA player, known for his defensive prowess, being recognized with eight NBA All-Defensive First Team selections.

Jamaal Wilkes

(Golden State Warriors; 1st round)

Jamaal Wilkes
Jamaal Wilkes made the Hall of Fame in 2012

Jamaal Wilkes was selected in the 1st round by the Golden State Warriors during the 1974 NBA Draft and went on to help lead them to championship success that year before going on to win two more championships with Los Angeles Lakers as an All-Star player and being honored with induction into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame status in 2012.


The 1974 NBA Draft made an enormously positive contribution to the league, producing some of its greatest stars, including Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, and George Gervin, who would go on to have significant impacts in subsequent drafts and seasons.

In particular, the 1974 NBA Draft played an instrumental role in globalizing the league as teams began recognizing international player potential and selected international stars such as Swen Nater and Uwe Blab, who helped establish it as a truly global sport.

Overall, the 1974 NBA Draft was a historic event that profoundly reshaped the league and continues to shape it today; many of its selectees continue to be considered among some of its greats.


Who was the first pick in the 1974 NBA draft?

Bill Walton was selected by Portland Trail Blazers after winning a coin flip to secure first overall selection in the 1974 NBA Draft. Walton would go on to enjoy an extraordinary NBA career – winning two championships and an MVP award before ultimately being honored with induction into Hall of Fame status in 1993.

Who was in the 1974 draft?

Some of the stand-out players were: Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, Len Elmore, Maurice Lucas, Brian Winters, John Drew, George Gervin, Tom McMillen, Marvin Barnes, and Swen Nater.

Who led the NBA in scoring in 1974?

Bob McAdoo of the Buffalo Braves led all NBA scorers during the 1973-1974 season with 30.6 averaged points per game. He came out on top as the leading scorer.

Who was the 1974 All-Star MVP?

Bob Lanier from the Detroit Pistons was honored as All-Star Game MVP during the 1974 season. Lanier notched 24 points, ten rebounds, and two assists during 24 minutes of play on behalf of the West Team as it defeated East 134-123 – this being one of two MVP awards Lanier received during his NBA All-Star Game career.

Who won the NBA championship in 1974?

The Boston Celtics won the 1974 NBA championship after defeating Milwaukee Bucks in a seven-game Finals series led by John Havlicek, who earned NBA Finals MVP honors. The final game score at Milwaukee Arena finished 102-87 to Boston.

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