There have been 18 Maryland Terrapins taken in the first round of the NBA draft. I have ranked them primarily based on the success of their NBA careers with additional considerations taken into account for players that still remain active in the NBA.
N/A Len Bias: 1986 Pick No. 2 (Boston Celtics)
Len Bias is a particularly difficult person to place on this list. After all, Bias was the second overall draft pick of the Boston Celtics, however, as we all know he tragically never had the opportunity to play in the NBA. It is difficult to argue the fact that Bias certainly had more than enough talent and potential to successfully fulfill a long and celebrated NBA career, that, regretfully no one ever had the opportunity to witness.
17. Al Bunge: 1960 Pick No. 7 (Philadelphia Warriors)
In 1960 the Philadelphia Warriors selected a Terp in the top 10 for the second time in less than a decade. Unlike their previous selection (whom we will hear about soon), Bunge would quickly make the Warriors regret their decision. Bunge has been noted as being the worst first round draft pick in the 1960 draft. This distinction was earned for good reason as Bunge never played a single minute in an NBA game, giving him 12 less career minutes played in the NBA than Chris McCray.
16. Keith Booth: 1997 Pick No. 28 (Chicago Bulls)
Although many readers have fond memories of watching Booth play for Maryland, his professional playing career was something which warrants much less celebration. Despite being the first round draft selection of the Bulls in 1997, Booth went on to amass only 130 career points in a brief two-year career. Thankfully, Booth has found greater success as an assistant coach at the collegiate level.
15. Jerrod Mustaf: 1990 Pick No. 17 (New York Knicks)
Jerrod Mustaf played in the NBA for four seasons with the Knicks and Suns. He accumulated 721 career points for an average of 4.0 points per game. Mustaf extended his professional career overseas playing for various teams all over Europe. Fun Fact #1: After he retired in 2001, he was, for a time, the sports ambassador of Gambia... so there’s that.
14. Juan Dixon: 2002 Pick No. 17 (Washington Wizards)
When the Washington Wizards took Juan Dixon 17th overall, it came as a surprise to many. Most draft experts did not peg Dixon going particularly high in the 2002 NBA draft despite the fact that he was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player just a few months prior. Unfortunately, the experts may have been right on this one. Dixon played for a respectable seven seasons in the NBA, with a career average of 8.4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
13. Alex Len: 2013 Pick No. 5 (Phoenix Suns)
Alex Len has only been in the NBA for two seasons, so this ranking is purely based on potential. Len showed great improvements in his second season in which he started 44 games, saw his playing time skyrocket and improved in almost every statistical category. Len’s 105 blocks in the 2014-15 seasons ranked 19th overall.
12. Chris Wilcox: 2002 Pick No. 8 (L.A. Clippers)
Chris Wilcox was one of four members of the 2002 National Championship team to eventually be drafted. Out of those four, Wilcox was by the far the player the NBA seemed to take the most interest in. Wilcox played 10 years in the NBA, scoring more than 5,000 points and snagging more than 3,000 rebounds during that run. Those numbers certainly compromise what many would consider to be a pretty respectable career, but I am sure the Los Angeles Clippers were expecting a little bit more from Wilcox when they selected him eighth overall in the 2002 NBA draft. Fun Fact #2: Wilcox was once named NBA Rookie of the Week.
11. Len Elmore: 1974 Pick No. 13 (Washington Bullets)
I may be dating myself here, but I unfortunately only know Len Elmore for his work as a TV personality, not so much for his work on the basketball court. (Actually, that’s not THAT unfortunate.) Despite being drafted by the Washington Bullets, Elmore elected to start his career with the then ABA Indiana Pacers. In his first two seasons, in which the Pacers were still part of the ABA, Elmore saw his most statistical success, even helping the Pacers reach the ABA finals in 1975. Elmore then played a respectable eight seasons in the NBA and was primarily known for his defensive prowess.
10. Greivis Vasquez: 2010 Pick No. 28 (Memphis Grizzlies)
Greivis Vasquez has played for four different teams in his five-year career that began in 2010. Vasquez has settled into a significant role-playing spot for the Toronto Raptors as of late, whom he has helped reach the playoffs for the past two seasons. Additionally, in the 2012-13 NBA season, while playing for the then New Orleans Hornets, Vasquez led the NBA in total assists with 704. During that same season he earned NBA player of the week.
9. Tom McMillen: 1974 Pick No. 9 (L.A. Lakers)
Tom McMillen played 11 seasons in the NBA, offering his services to four different teams along the way. McMillen finished his career close to home with the Washington Bullets, and when he retired he had close to 6,000 career points to go along with 3,000 career rebounds. McMillen is perhaps best known for his Bullets days due to his uncanny ability to look 30 years older than he actually was at the time.
8. Albert King: 1981 Pick No. 10 (New Jersey Nets)
King was one of two Maryland alum to be selected by the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 1981 NBA draft. King spent nine seasons in the NBA, along with a fellow Terp draft pick (whom shall be named later). He helped the Nets reach the playoffs for five consecutive seasons in the early 80s. King finished his career with 6,460 points and 1,502 rebounds for a career average of 12.1 and 4.2, respectively. Fun Fact #3: Albert is young brother to former NBA scoring champion Bernard King.
7. Walt Williams: 1992 Pick No. 7 (Sacramento Kings)
Much like many of the players on this list, Walt Williams’s career was rather pedestrian. He spend 10 years in the NBA amassing more than 8,000 points. His best year came in his rookie season where he averaged 17 points and 5 rebounds for the Kings and was named to the All-NBA Rookie Team (Second).
6. John Lucas: 1976 Pick No. 1 (Houston Rockets)
John Lucas played for six teams during his 14-year career. Lucas almost eclipsed the 10,000 career points mark during that time. Lucas was the first, and one of two Maryland Terrapins, to be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. While Lucas is certainly not the best player to ever cross the stage first during the draft, he is certainly not the worst.
5. Brad Davis: 1977 Pick No. 15 (L.A. Lakers)
To start off the top five, we have former Terp Brad Davis who was selected 15th overall, the lowest selection of any member of my (assuredly perfect) top five. After being taken 15th, Davis spent 15 years in the NBA, primarily with the Dallas Mavericks. In college, Davis was known for his ability to distribute the ball, and that characteristic stuck with him into the pro-ranks. Davis finished his career with 4,709 career assists, placing him 65th on the all-time assists leader list. His 4,524 assists with the Mavericks place him second on the all-time franchise leading list. Additionally, Davis can be found in the top ten of many statistical categories in Mavericks franchise history.
4. Steve Francis: 1999 Pick No. 2 (Vancouver Grizzlies)
Steve Francis’s career only lasted eight seasons, so some may feel he doesn’t deserve the fourth spot on this list, and perhaps those people are right. However, in eight short years, Francis scored more than 10,000 points, was a three-time all-star, named to the All-NBA rookie team, named three-time Rookie of the Month and ultimately named Rookie of the Year in the 1999-2000 season. (And, he was on the cover of two video games.) Unfortunately, his career came to an end at an early age as Francis played in his last NBA game at the age of 30, an age generally reserved for the retirement of NFL running backs. Sadly, many attribute his fall from grace to drugs and alcohol… Fun Fact #4?
3. Joe Smith: 1995 Pick No. 1 (Golden State Warriors)
To refer to Joe Smith as a journeyman might be an understatement. Smith spent 16 years in the NBA, retiring just a few years ago in 2011. In these 16 seasons, Smith suited up for 12 different teams. Despite Smith consistently having to adjust to new environments over the course of his career, he built up a moderately impressive resume, scoring 11,208 points and grabbing 6,575 rebounds. Smith consistently averaged in the double digits throughout his long career, but his best statistical season came early, in his second season with the Golden State Warriors in which he averaged 18.7 points and 8.7 rebounds.
2. Gene Shue: 1954 Pick No. 3 (Philadelphia Warriors)
Gene Shue was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors with the third overall pick in 1954, interestingly though, he only played six games with the team in the 1954-55 season before he was sold to the New York Knicks on Nov. 28. Shue would later go on to become a five-time All-Star with the Detroit Pistons, being named to the All-NBA team in the 1959-60 and 1960-61 seasons.
1. Buck Williams: 1981 Pick No. 3 (New Jersey Nets)
Buck Williams has the most statistically impressive resume of anyone on this list, and for simplicity's sake, that is why he tops the list. Williams played in the NBA for 17 years, the longest career of anyone on this list (even Joe Smith). He was a three-time All-Star, and a member of the All-NBA defensive team four times. Williams twice led the NBA in field goal percentage, was three-time Player of the Week and was named to the NBA All-Rookie team. His 16,648 career points and 13,017 rebounds place him far ahead of anyone else on this list and 16th on the all-time NBA rebounds leader list.