1959 — Johnny Green
Johnny Green is a great answer to a bar trivia stumper — who was the earliest first round NBA pick in Michigan State history? It was perhaps fittingly a 25 year old man named Green, and he remained the only Michigan State first round pick until 1972. Green played on the first and only Michigan State Final Four team until Magic came around, and he was the number five pick and carved out a decent enough career for himself, even if he didn’t quite live up to the billing of the draft’s first selection, Wilt Chamberlain. Green played 14 seasons in the NBA, half of them for the team that had drafted him, the New York Knicks.
He made four All Star teams, including one at age 37, and led the league in field goal percentage twice, but Jumpin’ Johnny never quite reached the lofty heights he had attained as a two time All American at Michigan State. Green is probably the least busty name of all these busts and might just as well have appeared on the all time Michigan State list, but the margins are thin for a top five pick.