Now that the draft lottery is out of the way, fans of NBA teams that are no longer playing can turn their attention to the draft itself, which will be held on June 28.
Draft projection is an inexact science: on NBA.com, Scott Howard-Cooper predicts that the Warriors will take Fab Melo of Syracuse with the 30th pick; he does not project O’Quinn as a first-round choice. DraftExpress doesn’t see O’Quinn as first-round material, either, but unlike Amick or Howard-Cooper, it has published second round projections and currently slots O’Quinn to be picked 41st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. NBADraft.net has also made its second round predictions, but currently projects O’Quinn to go undrafted.
(All four mock drafts name Anthony Davis as the first pick, though.)
Regardless of the mock draft you put stock in, it seems that O’Quinn has a good chance to become the fourth Norfolk State Spartan to play in the NBA. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the three Spartans with NBA experience are Bobby Dandridge, Ray Epps, and David Pope. (NSU’s Al Beard played 12 games for the New Jersey Americans during their inaugural ABA season in 1967-1968. Like Beard, the “Americans” name lasted just one season; the franchise has been known as the Nets ever since.)
The 2011-2012 NSU Media Guide lists Spartans Pee Wee Kirkland and Ralph Tally (the Spartans’ career scoring leader with 2,575 points) as having pro experience with the Chicago Bulls, but neither is listed in the all-time Bulls roster contained in the most recent Bulls Media Guide.
Epps and Pope both had brief NBA careers: Epps played 13 games for Golden State in the 1978-1979 season; between 1984 and 1986, Pope played 33 career games over two NBA seasons (one each with the Kings and the Sonics).
Fun Fact One: Pope’s rookie year (1984-1985) was the Kings’ final year in Kansas City before the franchised move west to Sacramento. I had no idea that the Kings had been in Kansas City that recently; if you had asked me yesterday, I would have guessed that K.C. last had an NBA team in the ’60′s.
Fun Fact Two: The Kings’ roster for the 1984-1985 season included the two most recent head coaches of the Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew (current coach) and Mike Woodson (Hawks coach from 2004-2010; recently named permanent head coach of the New York Knicks). A third member of that Kings squad, Billy Knight, was GM of the Hawks from 2003-2008. As John Hollinger noted on ESPN.com, Knight’s tenure yielded mixed results for the Hawks but also produced an inescapable lowlight: drafting Marvin Williams second overall in 2005 when Chris Paul and Deron Williams were still available. Ouch.
The 1984-1985 Kings finished with a 31-51 record and also featured two future head coaches of the Kings franchise: Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt (an assistant under Theus who took over when Theus was fired). Natt is now the head coach of the men’s national team in India.
Fun Fact Two(A): Marvin Williams’ middle name is Gaye. What’s goin’ on?
Where were we? Norfolk State and its greatest NBA player, Bobby Dandrige. Dandridge played 13 NBA seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Bullets; he appeared in four All-Star Games (1973, 1975, 1976, and 1979) and played on two championship teams: the 1970-1971 Bucks and the 1977-1978 Bullets. In his second pro season, Dandridge was the third-leading scorer for the Bucks’ title team, behind two players you may have heard of: Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson.
In 1977-1978, Dandridge was the Bullets’ second-leading scorer behind Elvin Hayes. The Bullets’ championship team also featured Wes Unseld and Mitch Kupchak, the current Lakers GM. In a 1979 Sports Illustrated article, Curry Kirkpatrick called Dandridge the best small forward in professional basketball at the time and noted that Dandridge had outplayed Dr. J in the 1978 playoffs. In Kirkpatrick’s article, teammate Kevin Grevey damned Dandridge with faint praise: “The man can’t jump. He hardly ever runs. He doesn’t have to practice. He doesn’t even sweat. But he’s the best, period.”
Dandridge has set the bar high for Norfolk State alumni headed to the NBA. For one thing, winning NBA titles as a player in both Milwaukee and Washington is a feat not likely to be repeated any time soon. Scoring more than 15,000 career points in the league is nothing to sneeze at, either.
Tune on June 28 to learn O’Quinn’s NBA destination. Here’s wishing him a career as fine as Dandridge’s.