1974 NBA Draft: Seattle SuperSonics Pick Review

The 28th annual NBA Draft was held on May 28th, 1974. The draft was once again eight rounds too long (10 in total), but at least only 178 players were drafted this time and not over 200.

The draft produced three future Hall of Famers; Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes and George Gervin.

Walton would help the Portland Trailblazers win their one and only championship, he would also later help the Boston Celtics raise another banner in 1986.

Before the draft the Sonics moved the 8th overall selection (Campy Russell) and Dick Snyder to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third overall selection.

Name: Tommy Burleson
School:
North Carolina State University
Pick:
First round, 3rd overall

Breakdown: Burleson was a mountain of a main. He was a 7'2" (some even listed him as tall as 7'4" for marketing and recruiting purposes) center from North Carolina State University. He averaged over 20 points and ten rebounds in college, won a silver medal in the 1972 Summer Games and shutdown Bill Walton and UCLA on the way to the 1973 National Championship.

Season

G

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

FT

FTA

FT%

TRB

AST

BLK

PPG

1974-75

82

23.0

3.9

9.7

.417

2.2

3.2

.687

7.0

0.8

1.9

10.1

1975-76

82

32.3

6.0

12.6

.481

3.5

4.7

.750

9.0

2.2

1.8

15.6

1976-77

82

22.0

3.5

8.0

.442

2.7

3.7

.731

6.7

1.1

1.4

9.7

Sonics Career

246

25.8

4.5

10.0

.450

2.8

3.9

.726

7.6

1.6

1.7

11.8

Sonics Playoffs

15

38.1

8.2

15.1

.542

4.3

5.7

.756

10.2

1.5

1.7

20.7


As a member of the Sonics he was a double-double machine and almost unstoppable in his 15 playoff games. He never missed a game with the Sonics.

After the 1977 season, Burleson along with Bob Wilkerson and a 2nd round pick were sent to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Paul Silas, Marvin Webster and Willie Wise.

Grade: B-

Name: Leonard Gray
School:
Long Beach State University
Pick:
Second round, 26th overall

Breakdown: Gray was a 6'8" forward from Long Beach State. He was the 1974 Big West Conference Player of the Year.

Season

G

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

FT

FTA

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

PPG

1974-75

75

30.4

5.0

10.3

.489

1.4

1.9

.722

6.4

2.2

0.8

11.5

1975-76

66

32.4

6.0

12.6

.474

1.9

2.6

.746

6.0

3.1

1.1

13.8

1976-77

25

25.7

4.6

10.5

.435

2.4

3.4

.756

4.3

2.2

1.1

11.5

Sonics Career

166

30.5

5.3

11.2

.473

1.7

2.3

.739

5.9

2.8

1.0

12.4

Sonics Playoffs

9

29.2

4.3

8.9

.488

1.2

1.4

.846

5.0

2.2

1.3

9.9

Gray was a very solid player in his two a third years with the Sonics. Averaging double figures in scoring in his years and being solid defensively. Gray was traded after 25 games during the 1976 season to the Washington Bullets for Nick Weatherspoon.

Grade: C-

Name: Talvin Skinner
School:
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Pick:
Third round, 44th

Breakdown: Skinner lead UMES to a 27-2 record his senior year.

Season

G

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

FT

FTA

FT%

TRB

AST

PF

PPG

1974-75

73

21.6

1.9

4.8

.409

0.9

1.3

.649

4.7

1.2

2.2

4.8

1975-76

72

17.0

1.8

4.0

.463

0.7

1.1

.613

3.7

0.9

1.6

4.3

Sonics Career

145

19.3

1.9

4.4

.434

0.8

1.2

.633

4.2

1.0

1.9

4.6

Sonics Playoffs

15

19.8

1.7

3.9

.424

1.7

2.3

.735

3.5

1.6

2.3

5.0

A story about how Bill Russell almost made him cry before a game in Milwaukee.

"just before a game against Milwaukee in 1976, Russell came into the locker room and was giving his pre-game speech. We had just lost four games in a row, and as he was making his speech, he singled me out and said that with the way that I had been playing, I would be lucky if I ever got to play again this season. Of course, it kind of shocked me and got me rattled, so when we were going through warm-ups my mind was only half into it because I was still focusing on what did I do and what I had done to cause him to say that.

When we went to the bench I was talking to one of my teammates, and they started introducing the starters and called my name. I was not even paying attention, so I did not even hear my name called. About 10-15 seconds went by and everyone was looking at me as if to say "What are you waiting for? Go ahead; they called your name!" I looked over at Russell, and he had a huge grin on his face, and the whole bench was just cracking up. I turned around and just felt so silly but it motivated me, and of course I went out and had one of the best games of my career. As a matter of fact he left me in the starting lineup for the rest of the year (Leonard had torn his ACL)."

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Grade: D+

Name: Dean Tolson
School:
University of Arkansas
Pick:
Fifth round, 80th overall

Breakdown: Tolson was an athletic forward from Arkansas.

Season

G

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

FT

FTA

FT%

TRB

AST

BLK

PPG

1974-75

19

4.6

0.8

1.9

.432

0.6

0.9

.647

1.2

0.3

0.3

2.3

1976-77

60

9.8

2.3

4.0

.566

1.4

2.7

.535

2.6

0.5

0.4

6.0

1977-78

1

7.0

0.0

1.0

.000

0.0

0.0

.000

0.0

2.0

0.0

0.0

Sonics Career

80

8.5

1.9

3.5

.546

1.2

2.2

.545

2.2

0.4

0.3

5.0

Sonics Playoffs

4

5.5

0.3

2.0

.125

0.5

0.5

1.000

1.8

0.3

0.0

1.0

Tolson has quite the story about his college days, drug abuse that stemmed from various injuries that accrued over his years playing basketball. Here is a great piece on him and his battles. I could link another 10 stories, but just Google him and you'll find some good stuff.

Tolson was waived by the Sonics after just appearing in a single game at the start of the 1977-78 season.

Grade: D-

Name: Wardell Jackson
School:
Ohio State University
Pick:
Sixth round, 98th overall

Breakdown: Wardell Jackson was a 6'7" forward from Ohio State. While at Ohio State he averaged 14 points and nine rebounds over his four-year collegiate career.

Season

G

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

FT

FTA

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

PPG

1974-75

56

16.8

1.7

4.3

.397

0.9

1.3

.718

2.4

0.5

0.5

4.3

Jackson only got a handful of minutes throughout a handful of games. His PER48 projections had him being a double-double type player. He was a decent pick up for a 98th overall selection, but lack of minutes and lack of longevity in the league hurt his overall grade.

Grade: D-

Name: Rod Derline
School:
Seattle University
Pick:
Tenth round, 169th overall

Breakdown: Derline comes from the tiny town of Elma, WA (20 minutes from where I grew up and where my dad currently lives) and is a local high school basketball legend in Grays Harbor County. He is only one of two players to play professionally from the Harbor, omm'A Givens of Aberdeen High School being the other. Givens won a National Championship with UCLA in 1995, but never played in the NBA. Closest he got was playing in the D League in 2002.

Season

G

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

FT

FTA

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

PPG

1974-75

58

11.5

2.4

5.7

.428

0.7

1.0

.768

1.0

0.8

0.4

5.6

1975-76

49

6.9

1.5

3.7

.403

0.9

1.1

.804

0.6

0.5

0.2

3.9

Sonics Career

107

9.4

2.0

4.8

.419

0.8

1.0

.786

0.8

0.7

0.3

4.8

Derline played well in his very limited minutes, but guard buried on the bench behind Fred Brown he was never going to get the minutes he needed to be successful. His PER48 projection had him being a 21 point scorer.

A knee injury forced Derline out of the game after only two seasons. He currently works at Boeing and lives in Kent. He is in the Seattle University Basketball Hall of Fame and his jersey is retired at Elma High School.

Grade: D+

Seattle also drafted William Gordon (62nd overall, University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Jerry Faulkner (116th overall, State University of West Georgia), Leonard Coulter (134th overall, Morehead State University) and Bertrand du Pont (152nd, Dillard University), but none of them ever played a game for the Sonics or in the NBA.

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