The 1971 NBA draft was the 25th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on March 29 and 30, 1971 before the 1971–72 season. In this draft, 17 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was eligible for selection. If a player left college early, he would not be eligible for selection until his college class graduated. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Portland Trail Blazers were awarded the second pick. The remaining first-round picks and the subsequent rounds were assigned to teams in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. Prior to the start of the season, the San Diego Rockets and the San Francisco Warriors relocated to Houston, Texas, and Oakland, California, and became the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors respectively. The draft consisted of 19 rounds comprising the selection of 237 players. The league also hosted a supplemental hardship draft on September 20, 1971, for college underclassmen who wish to join the league.
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