Drew on the Draft

Larry Drew on the Draft

By Alex Boeder

The Trade

Back on February 4, 1980, the Pistons acquired Kent Benson and a first-round draft pick from the Bucks in exchange for Bob Lanier.

Benson went on to play parts of eight more seasons with moderate success, though he never had a better season than his final full season in Milwaukee. Lanier was already 31 at the time of the trade, but he gave the Bucks four more strong seasons.

That first round pick that the Bucks traded as part of the deal? It ended up being the #17 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. The Pistons used it to select a point guard out of Missouri who averaged 20.1 points by his third year in the league. His name?

Larry Drew.

1980 to 2013

In a little basketball twist, thirty-three years later the Hawks hold the #17 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. But this time, the Bucks have Drew on their side, as he arrives from Atlanta after three years as head coach for the Hawks.

1980 Draft
And, seven more fun facts from that 1980 draft.

  • Larry Drew enjoyed a productive 10-year career in the NBA and ranked seventh in points scored among all players from the 1980 draft.
  • The Bucks did not have a pick in the first two rounds. But keep in mind that the draft went 10 full rounds back in 1980. The Bucks drafted eight players overall – and none of them played a single minute in the NBA.
  • An individual named Hawkeye Whitney was selected just ahead of Drew, at #16 by the Kansas City Kings. Whitney was out of the league a few years later, but more importantly he reminds me of my plan to write a story about NBA players with the best names. Also: The Kings passed up on the hometown kid (Drew was from Kansas City), but traded for Drew just a year later.
  • Milwaukee native Kurt Nimphius was selected at #47. He carved out a nice career in the league. He also has some fun top Similarity Scores on basketball-reference (which compares players with careers of similar quality and shape), including Oliver Miller and Dan Gadzuric.
  • Wes Matthews went #14 to the Washington Bullets after three collegiate seasons at Wisconsin. In his only season with the Bulls, in 1984-85, he shared a backcourt with a rookie named Michael Jordan. Matthews later had a son named Wes Matthews, Jr. He went to Marquette and currently plays for the Blazers.
  • The Mavericks became an NBA team. They chose Kiki Vandeweghe 11th overall with their first-ever draft pick. However, he refused to play for the Mavericks, and the Mavericks traded him to the Nuggets. Sort of a rough start.
  • Terry Stotts was the #38 overall draft pick. He never played in the NBA. But he was a star player for the Montana Golden Nuggets in the CBA. George Karl was his coach. Both Karl and Stotts went on to become head coaches for the Bucks.


Drew kindly shared some of his June time with me at the Cousins Center recently. Here are some draft-related excerpts.

Do you remember the night you were drafted?

I do. The excitement of just wondering, trying to figure out where you were going. First of all, it is exciting being drafted, to be mentioned, considered as a guy who is going to have a long NBA career. You play ball all your life, and now you are going to do it for a living. All these things go through your mind. But that day, I was just wondering where I was going.

I remember being with my parents, at their home, and getting the call that I was going to Detroit at #17. Just a really, really exciting time because in all honesty I had never felt that would happen to me, being at Missouri for my four years there. The whole excitement of finally being selected by Detroit. Here I am, never envisioned being in that position. Just a really exciting time.

Did you know where you were going to be drafted or which teams were interested in you?

I had a little bit of an idea.

Back then we didn’t go around and work out for all of the teams. We played in two All-Star Games. There was an All-Star Game in Vegas. And there was an All-Star Game in Hawaii. After that, it was waiting for the draft. And I remember being in Hawaii and being interviewed by three teams. I thought it would be one of the three teams. It ended up being one of the teams, Detroit.

Did you go through any types of pre-draft athletic testing/measurements (such as vertical jump) like they do now?

No, we didn’t do that. We just showed up, and we practiced. Scouts were at the practices. And then we played in the actual game. Obviously not all of them were there. All of this testing and measurements, no, we didn’t do that.

As a head coach, what is your role in the draft process?

I am still getting more and more familiar with players who are coming out. Some of these guys I am more familiar with. Some I am not as familiar with. Because during the regular season, you don’t get a chance to follow them very closely. 

But since the NBA season ended, when I was in Atlanta, I started looking on my own at some of these guys that were projected to be drafted. And then once I got here, I started working with John (Hammond) a little bit closer, and Billy McKinney (Director of Scouting), and Dave Babcock (Director of Player Personnel) and those guys, and getting more and more familiar with the players, watching film, getting profiles, getting all of their information, and watching a lot of Synergy. And just getting very familiar with these guys.

Where will you be on Draft Night?

I will be right here (at the Cousins Center) as we go through the entire draft.




Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at adboeder@gmail.com.


Related Content


  • Facebook
  • Twitter