Who Were the 2 Players Selected Ahead of Pete Maravich in the Loaded 1970 NBA Draft?
Pete Maravich averaged — yes, averaged — 44.2 points per game in his three seasons at LSU. He left college as the NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader with 3,667 career points. It’s an amazing number considering it took him just 83 games without a three-point line to reach that total.
The man known as “Pistol Pete” is easily a top-five college basketball player ever. His college scoring record still stands 53 years later. Despite the incomprehensible numbers he put up at LSU, he wasn’t the first player chosen in the loaded 1970 NBA Draft. In fact, two players were taken before the Atlanta Hawks secured him with the third overall pick.
Pete Maravich was taken after Bob Lanier and Rudy Tomjanovich in the 1970 NBA Draft
With numbers like Maravich’s, it makes you wonder why he didn’t go first in the 1970 NBA Draft. Sometimes size is just as important as those massive statistics.
The Detroit Pistons held the first pick in 1970, a year in which three expansion teams — Buffalo Braves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Portland Trail Blazers — made their debut. The Pistons selected St. Bonaventure’s 6-foot-11 center Bob Lanier.
Lanier went on to have a 14-year career that landed him in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A bruising center with strong offensive skills, Lanier averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in his career. He spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Pistons and was a seven-time NBA All-Star in Detroit.
The Pistons traded Lanier to the Milwaukee Bucks in the middle of the 1979-80 season. He made his eighth and final All-Star Game appearance in his second full season with the Bucks.
With the second overall pick in 1970, the San Diego Rockets selected Michigan’s 6-foot-8 forward Rudy Tomjanovich. Rudy T had himself a heck of a career with the San Diego/Houston Rockets, playing 11 years and making the All-Star Game five times. Tomjanovich averaged 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in his career.
Tomjanovich is known for taking a vicious punch from Kermit Washington during a game on Dec. 9, 1977. The blow shattered his face and sidelined him for five months. He returned the following season and was selected as an NBA All-Star.
While Maravich was outstanding, it’s hard to argue the selections of the two players taken before him.
Seven Hall of Famers (and one HOF coach) were drafted in 1970
While Tomjanovich didn’t make the Hall of Fame (he did make it as a coach), Lanier and Maravich did. So did the player selected at No. 4.
With the fourth pick in the 1970 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics selected Florida State’s Dave Cowens. Cowens, an undersized center at 6-foot-9, won Rookie of the Year that season when he put up 17 points and 15 rebounds per game. He also was the MVP of the 1972-73 season. Cowens was an eight-time All-Star and a two-time NBA champion. He was inducted into the Hall in 1991.
The first two players selected in Round 2 also earned their way into the Hall of Fame. Calvin Murphy (San Diego Rockets) and Nate “Tiny” Archibald (Cincinnati Royals) had outstanding NBA careers.
In Round 7, the Celtics claimed another future Hall of Famer when they drafted 6-foot-5 guard Charlie Scott, who had already signed a contract with the Virginia Squires of the ABA. In Round 8, the Pistons took Kentucky center Dan Issel, who was also drafted in the first round of the ABA by the Kentucky Colonels.
While Scott and Issel were safe picks, knowing they would play in the ABA, the 1970 draft was still top-heavy with Hall of Famers.