Tip-Off Timer: 60th Pick in Draft Wins Rookie of the Year
In 1957, the NBA draft sprawled some 14 rounds, with each of the league's eight teams picking out a handful of additions. Most of the 83 players selected never played a second of NBA basketball, especially those taken in later rounds.
But there was one diamond in the rough. The Philadelphia Warriors spent their eighth round pick -- No. 60 overall -- on forward Woody Sauldsberry of Texas Southern. And Sauldsberry turned out to be the best pick of all, winning the 1957-58 Rookie of the Year award.
Sauldsberry is by far the R.O.Y. drafted lowest. Don Meineke, the league's inaugural R.O.Y. in 1952-53, had been drafted No. 35. Since Sauldsberry, the lowest a R.O.Y. has been drafted is No. 18 -- where 1987-88 R.O.Y. Mark Jackson was picked by the Knicks. Since Jackson's win, no player drafted outside the top 10 has won Rookie of the Year.
Sauldsberry stuck in the league for seven seasons. Only Sam Jones (picked No. 8) ended up with a fuller playing career out of all '57 picks, though Hot Rod Hundley (the top pick) and Jim Krebs turned out decent terms. Sauldsberry actually walked away from the game in 1963 after a dispute with his St. Louis Hawks coach Harry Galatin. Bill Russell, who years earlier had been convinced by Sauldsberry not to join the Harlem Globetrotters and instead go to the NBA, convinced Red Auerbach to sign Sauldsberry (who took a job selling plane tickets for TWA) for the 1965-66 season. The Celtics won another title, and Sauldsberry retired for good.