As the NBA was still trying to build fan support in its local markets, players from teams' local areas seemed to be a natural way to draw fans to the arena. A draft of first-year players made that difficult, however, as a popular local player could be drafted by another team. To help teams acquire local players, territorial picks were instituted. Prior to the league's draft, a team could forfeit its first round draft pick and select a player from within a 50 mile radius.
Territorial picks were eliminated when the draft was revamped in 1966.
Notable Territorial Picks
- Paul Arizin, Villanova – Philadelphia Warriors, 1950
- Bill Bradley, Princeton – New York Knicks, 1965
- Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas – Philadelphia Warriors, 1959
- Although the rule was intended to allow teams to draft players who attended college within a 50-mile radius, the Warriors successfully argued that they could take him as a territorial pick because he was born and raised in Philadelphia, and first made his name as a superstar at the city's Overbrook High School.
- Dave DeBusschere, Detroit – Detroit Pistons, 1962
- Tom Gola, La Salle – Philadelphia Warriors, 1955
- Gail Goodrich, UCLA – Los Angeles Lakers, 1965
- Tom Heinsohn, Holy Cross – Boston Celtics, 1956
- Jerry Lucas, Ohio State – Cincinnati Royals, 1962
- Lucas' pick also stretched the territorial rule, although not to the same extent as Chamberlain's. Ohio State's Columbus campus was outside of Cincinnati's territorial radius, but the Royals were the only NBA team in Ohio at the time. Lucas, like Chamberlain, was also born and raised within a 50-mile radius of the team that drafted him (Middletown, Ohio).
- Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati – Cincinnati Royals, 1960