In this draft, nine NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball 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. Teams that finished last in each division, the San Francisco Warriors and the New York Knicks, were awarded the first four picks in the draft. 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.
Before the draft, a team could forfeit its first-round draft pick and then select any player from within a 50-mile radius of its home arena as their territorial pick. The draft consisted of 17 rounds comprising 112 players selected. This draft was the last in which the territorial pick rule remained in effect, before it was eliminated prior to the 1966 draft.