Big things were expected of Billy Owens when he was selected in the 1991 NBA draft. 6’8 good handle for his size, solid rebounder and defender, he should have been a bigger star. In College he was as good as anyone in the country. The debate leading up to the draft was who do you take Billy Owens, Stacy Augmon, Larry Johnson? Oh it was that good of a debate at that time.
As a 6’8″ small forward/shooting guard from Syracuse University, he was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the 1991 NBA Draft. However, after Owens remained a holdout beyond the start of the regular season, he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for high-scoring guard Mitch Richmond. The trade broke up the popular “Run TMC” trio of Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, and Chris Mullin; Owens’ additional height compared to Richmond was the size that coach and general manager Don Nelson believed would complete the team. Nelson said he “was under pressure to get [the team] bigger” to improve the Warriors from a good team to a great one.
Owens averaged over 15 points and nearly eight rebounds during his tenure with the Warriors, including an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection in 1992. The Warriors improved from 44 to 55 games won in his first season. However, he never provided his expected impact and played only three seasons with Golden State. Owens spent ten seasons with the Warriors, Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings, Seattle SuperSonics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Detroit Pistons before a string of injuries finally took its toll.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday spotlights…Billy Owens.