1966 NBA Draft Pick Transactions

Contributor Patrick Farrell has uncovered numerous discrepancies that call into question the 1966 NBA Draft as reported by virtually all other traditional reference sources. How can this be? Read on for his account of his research findings.

Based on this new information, we have available both the "Traditional" account of the 1966 Draft (which we now believe to be inaccurate) as well as Patrick's new "Alternate" account.

1966 NBA Draft (Traditional) 1966 NBA Draft (Alternate)


1966 NBA Draft

by Patrick Farrell

I have been doing some research on 1960s NBA drafts off-and-on for awhile, looking up contemporary media coverage of various drafts from that era. In the course of doing so, I have discovered a number of cases where there are discrepancies between what was reported in media sources and what is shown in modern reference sources.

In most cases, the discrepancies are minor, and involve players chosen down in the nether rounds of the draft. With the 1966 draft, however, I have found several discrepancies in the draft order, involving picks as high as the second round. I am posting my findings in this article in the event that anyone else has an interest in this topic and/or may have access to other contemporary media sources that can corroborate or refute what I have found.

A Few Preliminary Questions

You may be wondering, "What do you mean, 'discrepancies' in the draft order? Why would there be any question about that? How hard is it to copy down a draft list? How could the draft order shown in modern reference sources possibly be wrong?"

This is made possible because the format in which the draft lists appear today is often not the way they were reported back in the '60s. In the '60s, draft lists were not generally published with each pick in sequential order, as they are today. Instead, draft lists would usually go team-by-team, listing each team's picks in the order the team selected them, sometimes explicitly indicating which round each player was taken, sometimes not. Articles covering the draft would often describe the sequence of picks in the first round, but little or no sequential information would be provided for other rounds. The sequential lists that you see in modern reference sources were not simply lifted from published draft lists, but were apparently assembled by taking the team-by-team lists and organizing the players' names into what the assembler believed to be the correct sequential order. Most of the time, the above process works fine. If you assume that the third player on the Hawks' list was their third round pick, and you assume that he must have been the fourth player taken in that round because the Hawks picked fourth in the first round (i.e., they had the fourth worst record in the league the previous season), most of the time you'll be right. But what if the Hawks had traded their third round pick to another team, so that the third player on their list was actually their fourth round pick? What if another team had been given a bonus pick (or had forfeited/passed on a pick for some reason) earlier in the round? This is where the discrepancies lie.

If, after reading this article, you decide to check what I'm saying against other sources that you have at hand, you may also be thinking, "I've checked five different modern sources, and they all have the information that you say is wrong. How could all of them possibly be wrong?" It's not that they all independently researched this matter, and all got it wrong. It's that they all are drawing their information directly or indirectly from the same pool of data, without independently researching it any further, and that pool of data may be wrong to begin with. It appears to me that, at some point back in the '70s (?), someone must have compiled draft lists for use in some type of NBA encyclopedia, and most reference sources published since then have simply used the data on that "Master List" with little or no further research into the matter.

I am very curious about who originally created the "Master List", and where they got their information from. One thing I have learned about '60s drafts is that the later rounds of the drafts were sometimes conducted through a "supplementary" process, in which the players were not selected on draft day, but were claimed after the fact by teams submitting players' names to the league office. In 1966, for example, only the first eight rounds of the draft were actually held on draft day. Players selected through the supplementary process were rarely mentioned in media reports. I have no idea where the compilers of the "Master List" got their information on players selected in supplementary rounds, and in most cases I have found no way to check these portions of the lists for accuracy.



Sources I have used for the 1966 draft include:



I have found the following discrepancies:

  1. Modern reference sources indicate that each round of the 1966 draft was scheduled to have ten picks, as there were ten teams at the time. The information I have found indicates that the second round actually had eleven picks, due to the presence of a bonus pick that had been granted to the Chicago Bulls, apparently as part of their expansion agreement. The Bulls used one pick to take Erwin Mueller, and traded the other pick to the Lakers, who used it to take Henry Finkel. The Lakers used their own second round pick to take John Block.

    • Articles in the Times and Post on 1966-05-01, covering the expansion draft, mention that the Bulls will have two picks in the second round of the upcoming college draft. A subsequent Post article on 1966-05-09, covering the upcoming college draft, also mentions that the Bulls will have two second rounders. None of these sources specifically mentions how or why the Bulls had two picks, however.

    • The draft lists in the Times, TSN and the 1966-05-11 evening Globe (all of which explicitly identify the round each player was selected in) show eleven players as having been selected in the second round, including Mueller, Finkel and Block. The draft list in the Times shows the Lakers as having two second round picks, Finkel and Block, the former "acquired from Chicago". The TSN draft list (which goes round-by-round) states that Chicago was "Given two selections" in the second round, which were Mueller and Finkel, but "Finkel was sold for cash to Los Angeles". The Globe shows two Laker picks, with Finkel's as "(trade from Chicago)".

    • The text of the TSN article states, "Chicago had two choices in the second round, and Los Angeles bought one of the players, purchasing Henry Finkel of Dayton, a six-foot, 11-inch center".

    • The various sources do not agree as to whether the Bulls drafted Finkel and then traded his rights, or the Lakers drafted Finkel after acquiring the pick from the Bulls before the draft started. TSN and the Globe seem to suggest the former, the Times and the Post (which lists Finkel under the Lakers) the latter. The latter seems to be how this was ultimately written up. All modern sources indicate that Finkel was actually drafted by the Lakers, and that is also what is shown in his "register" entry in '70s NBA Guides.

  2. Modern reference sources indicate that the Knicks picked first in each round, and the Pistons second. This was unquestionably true of the first round, due to the Knicks winning the coin flip with the Pistons for the right to pick first overall. But the information I have found suggests that in all other rounds the Pistons actually went first, the Knicks second.

    • The TSN article states, "From the second round on, Detroit was permitted the first selection". In addition, the draft list accompanying the TSN article shows the Knicks picking first in the first round, but the Pistons picking first in all other rounds. The Globe lists shows the same. As noted above, these lists do not seem totally reliable in terms of showing the exact sequence of picks. However, they usually deviate by sticking to the first round order no matter what; the fact that they went away from the first-round order to make this change in the list lends some corroboration to what the text of the TSN article says.

    • During the 1965-66 season, the Pistons had the worst record in the NBA. The Knicks were second worst. At least in future years, the usual procedure with coin flips was that in rounds other than the first, teams would pick in reverse order of record, without any regard to the coin flip. In 1967, for example, the Pistons won the coin flip over the Bullets for the #1 overall pick, but in all rounds other than the first round, the Bullets went first, because they had the worse record. Assuming that there wasn't a different rule in effect just for one year in 1966, you would expect that, in all rounds other than the first round, the Pistons would have gone first and the Knicks second.

    • Unfortunately, neither the Times nor the Post addresses this question, not even with a hometown team involved in the case of the Times.

  3. Modern reference sources indicate that the expansion Bulls picked last in each round of the draft. This appears to have been true of most rounds, but not of the second round, where the information I have found indicates that the Bulls were originally scheduled to pick third and fourth, apparently a special arrangement connected to their being granted a bonus pick in that round.

    • An article in the Times on 1966-05-01, covering the expansion draft, states: "Chicago will have the 10th or last pick in the first round of the N.B.A.'s annual draft of college players May 11. Then the Bulls will have the third and fourth picks in the second round and the 10th pick in each subsequent round." An article in the same day's Post states, "[Chicago] will pick 10th in the first round, 13th and 14th [overall] in the second round and then 10 in all succeeding rounds." Another article in the Post on 1966-05-09, reporting on the upcoming college draft, says, "Chicago's NBA entry, which will wage its first campaign this year, receives the final choice of the first round, but gets to choose third and fourth in the second round".

    • The lists in TSN and the 1966-05-11 evening Globe show the Bulls at the end of the second round, not third and fourth. However, this is inconclusive, given that these lists seem to usually show teams in the sequence they picked in the first round, not always taking into account trades or other deviations. Oddly, however, the TSN list moves the Bulls to third in each round for the sixth round on. Since the TSN list usually deviates by sticking to the first-round order, and that isn't the case here, you have to wonder why they did this. There is no explanation in the article that addresses this. I have not found any other source suggesting that the Bulls' position changed in those later rounds; in fact, the 1966-05-01 Times and Post articles cited above explicitly state that it didn't (e.g., "…the Bulls will have the third and fourth picks in the second round and the 10th pick in each subsequent round"). Based on the information that I have right now, I think we have to assume that the Bulls did pick last in all rounds other than the 2nd, and the TSN list has some kind of weird typo. But I'd be curious as to whether there is anything on this point in other sources, such as the Chicago papers.

  4. Modern reference sources indicate that the Lakers' picks through the first five rounds were as follows: first, Jerry Chambers; second, Henry Finkel; third, John Block; fourth, Archie Clark; and fifth, Stan Washington. The information I have found indicates that the Lakers actually had two second round picks (Finkel and Block), and that Block, Clark and Washington were actually picked a round ahead of what is indicated above. The Lakers' fifth round pick was actually a player named Bobby Leonard from Wake Forest, who has somehow been completely omitted from draft lists in modern sources.

    • The lists in the Times, TSN and the Globe (all of which explicitly identify the round each player was selected in) show Finkel and Block as second round picks, Clark as a third round pick, Washington as a fourth round pick, and Leonard as a fifth round pick. From the TSN article and the Times, TSN and Globe lists, it is clear that the Lakers had two second round picks because Finkel was taken with what was originally one of the Bulls' picks.

    • Since the draft lists in the Post and in the 1966-05-12 morning Globe don't explicitly identify the round each player was selected in, they aren't of any use in determining which round the Lakers' draftees were taken in. Bobby Leonard does appear on the lists, however, in the same order that he appears on the list in the Times.

    • Finkel, Block and Clark were all active into the mid '70s. Starting in 1971, the NBA Guide began showing each player's original draft year and round in his "register" entry. Entries in post-1971 Guides show Finkel and Block as second rounders and Clark as a third rounder.

    • It appears that Finkel was selected with the second of the the Bulls' two original second round picks. The Times draft list for the Bulls, following Erwin Mueller, states "extra second round choice traded to Los Angeles".

  5. Modern reference sources indicate that the Celtics selected John Austin on the fourth round, and traded their fifth round pick to the Bullets, who used it to take John Beasley. The information I have found indicates that the rounds are reversed in the above description; the Celtics actually traded their fourth round pick to Baltimore, who used it to take Beasley, then the Celts took Austin on the fifth round.

    • The lists in the Times, TSN and the Globe (all of which explicitly identify the round each player was selected in) show Beasley as a fourth round pick and Austin as a fifth round pick. All three lists also note that the pick Beasley was selected with had been acquired from Boston.

    • Articles in the 1966-05-11 evening Globe and 1966-05-12 Post state in the text that Austin was a fifth round pick (the Post specifically mentioned Austin in their articles because he was from Washington).

    • Some modern reference sources show an odd pick sequence in the fifth round, with Baltimore selecting Beasley with the fifth pick in the round (which should have been their own slot, not Boston's), then selecting again sixth, then the teams which should picked sixth, seventh and eighth all bumped down a slot (Boston should have been eighth), then the teams picking ninth and tenth in the correct position. I can find no evidence that this was the case. I suspect that this can be traced back to the practice on some semi-sequential draft lists of not strictly following the correct draft order, but, when a team had two picks in a round due to a trade, listing both picks together in the picking team's own slot. This practice is followed in the TSN and 1966-05-11 evening Globe lists with regard to both Baltimore in the fourth round and Chicago/L.A. in the second round. I assume that whoever compiled the "Master List" used such a semi-sequential list as a source but did not understand what had happened with these picks. The 1989 edition of The NBA Basketball Encyclopedia, which I have, actually shows the Beasley pick as "from Boston", and the Finkel pick as "from Chicago", even though neither pick is shown in the correct position to have come from those teams (instead, they are shown in the receiving team's original position).

  6. Modern reference sources indicate that the Bulls made selections in the first five rounds, didn't make one in the sixth round (presumably they passed or perhaps selected an ineligible player), then picked again from the seventh through eleventh rounds. The information I have found suggests that the Bulls did make a sixth round selection; the players selected by the Bulls on the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds (John Comeaux, Stan Curtis and Gene Summers) were actually picked a round ahead of what is listed in modern reference sources.

    • The lists in TSN and the Times (both of which explicitly identify the round each player was selected in) show Comeaux as a sixth round pick, Curtis as a seventh round pick, and Summers as an eighth round pick. (Actually, the Times lists both Curtis and Summers as seventh round picks, but showing Summers as a seventh round pick is probably a typo. In any event, Summers was picked no lower than the eighth round, since the remaining rounds were supplementary rounds which hadn't taken place yet when the Times article was written. Summers' name also appears as the last Bulls pick on the round-less lists in the Post and 1966-05-12 morning edition of the Globe.)

    • The players listed as being selected on the ninth and tenth rounds were also presumably picked one round ahead of where they are listed, but as all picks below the eighth round were supplementary picks I have no way to verify this.

    • Modern reference sources show Philadelphia with a similarly odd pick sequence: no picks in the seventh or eighth rounds, but picks in the ninth and tenth rounds. This appears to be correct, although I cannot verify the ninth and tenth round picks as they were supplementary selections. The draft lists in the Times and TSN both indicate that the 76ers passed on the seventh and eighth rounds. The explanation seems to be that on draft day Philly decided to stop picking after the sixth round, but later decided to make a couple of supplementary picks (remember, the ninth round was the first supplementary round).