Some surprises in the NBA college draft
Los Angeles — This year's National Basketball Association college player draft may have been the most predictable since the league was formed at an arena owners' convention in New York in 1946.
For example, Jerry West, who works as a special consultant for the champion Los Angeles Lakers, was able to identify correctly 26 consecutive players and the teams that would take them before the choices were actually made. Still there were some surprises.
The Boston Celtics, who owned Detroit's first pick in the draft, traded it to Golden State for Robert Parish, the Warriors' seven-foot center. Parish is a four-year veteran who averaged 17 points per game and grabbed nearly 800 rebounds last season, despite what some people said was an attitude problem.
Boston General Manager Red Auerbach reportedly wanted Parish because of what happened against Philadelphia in this year's playoffs, when the physically powerful 76ers simply muscled the Celtics' season into mothballs. Boston used its own first pick to take 6 ft. 11 in. center-forward Kevin McHale of Minnesota.
There is also a rumor that the Celtics will not pick up the option year on Tiny Archibald's contract, but instead will use that money, plus a bonus, to sign free agent guard Gus Williams of the Seattle SuperSonics. Williams, who can fly, would be ideal for Boston's fast-break offense.
Golden State, which faces a major rebuilding job, used the choice it got from the Celtics to draft center Joe Barry Carroll of Purdue, a consensus All-America whom some pro scouts didn't like because they said he telegraphed too many of his offensive moves.
The Utah Jazz, which had the same 24-58 record as the Warriors, probably got the only real show-biz player available in guard Darrell Griffith of Louisville, a skywalker and scorer in the mold of Denver's David Thompson.
It is indeed unfortunate that the NBA franchise most in need of help, the Detroit Pistons, had nothing higher than a No. 17 pick in the first round. But the Pistons did get a solid player in guard Larry Drew of Missouri and also have a new head coach in Scotty Robertson, who was an assistant last year with Houston.
The Dallas Mavericks, the NBA's latest expansion franchise, went for 6-7 forward Kiki Vandeweghe of UCLA after first signing free-agent center Ralph Drollinger to a three-year contract. Drollinger, a former UCLA star who had been playing with Athletes in Action, is recuperating from knee surgery.
There is at least some speculation that the Mavericks might be willing to trade Kiki and Tom LaGarde to the Knicks for center Marvin Webster and a high draft pick in 1981. But that deal probably could be made only if New York agreed to pay part of Webster's huge salary.
In an unusual swap that could eventually become a standard trivia question in pro basketball, the Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trail Blazers developed a new Abbott and Costello routine.
The Bulls, picking fourth, took guard Kelvin Ransey of Ohio State. The Blazers, picking 10th, took guard Ronnie Lester of Iowa. Then the two clubs swapped Ransey and Lester, with Portland throwing in a future first-round draft choice.
The New Jersey Nets, another of the NBA's have-not teams, grabbed forward Mike O'Koren of North Carolina and center Mike Gminski of Duke. Both have an excellent chance of making the Nets, whose only chance right now seems to be to go with youth.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, saddled with a lot of problems, went for guard Chad Kinch of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Although this was not a spectacular NBA draft in the sense that it failed to produce any of the preseason excitement generated a year ago by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, it may yet be remembered for its depth.
Several teams, including the Lakers and Celtics, figure to go into next season with at least two rookies on their rosters.
All that remains now is for Washington and Dallas to name new coaches.