Looking back at 1995 NBA Draft


Twenty years ago was the 1995 NBA Draft. There was no frozen envelope that year like ten years before. There was a decided ACC flavor to the top half of the draft. There was a high schooler drafted. That high schooler would open the modern age of high school draftees that would end with the ‘one-and-done’ rule.

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1995 marked the first year of the Toronto Raptors and the first year of the Vancouver Grizzlies. The NBA had gone wild and gone north. Twenty years later the two franchises have different futures. Toronto stayed in Ontario where the drinking age is lower. The Raptors have been legally drinking since last year. Vancouver moved to Memphis and still cannot drink until next year.

So let’s look at a few lessons of the 1995 Draft and how it might affect the upcoming draft.

1. Kevin Garnett is the last man left

Twenty years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves took the high schooler Garnett with the fifth pick of the draft. Now Garnett is back on the Timberwolves after a long career where he won a title during his time in Boston. The Timberwolves used the Garnett era to become relevant and then irrelevant again.

The Timberwolves have the first pick in the draft this year, so they are rebuilding once again. Garnett is the sole player from the 1995 draft still in the league.

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2. Drafting is not easy

The 1995 Draft had several players who went on to productive careers, but it also contained a bunch of misses in the first round. That started with Shawn Respert, whose career was shortened by cancer. Right behind him was Ed O’Bannon, who has become more famous for trying to get video game royalties based on his college career. Thirteen of the first twenty-nine picks could be classified as disappointments or busts.

3. Two Tar Heels in the Top 5

Been a little while since we could talk about having Heels rated so high in the draft pool. This draft saw the beginning of the pro careers of Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace, the two talent engines of the 1995 Final Four team.

Stackhouse was considered to the next Jordan out of school. That was unfair, since Stackhouse never became the efficient scorer that Jordan was. Still he hung around the league until just recently, and had a nice if not spectacular pro career.

Wallace continued to be an enigma in the pros. The match of a power forward body and a skill set that any forward would kill for was matched with a combustible personality. Wallace did get an NBA Championship for the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

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  • 4. More Tobacco Road guys

    While Stackhouse and Wallace became the headliners, there were other pros that came out in this draft. Wake Forest’s Randolph Childress was drafted in this draft. So was Duke’s Cherokee Parks. Parks had a career as a journeyman. The second round added Eric Meek, but Meek would never actually play in the League.

    5. Need a coach?

    1995 was also the draft that sent college coaches Fred Hoiberg and Cuonzo Martin to the NBA. Hoiberg was a steady player before moving on to coach the Iowa State Cyclones. Martin currently coaches the California Golden Bears after stints at Missouri State and Tennessee. Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie also entered the NBA in this season, but was not drafted.

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  • 6. The Hornets draft…George Zidek

    The Hornets employed a strategy that would have worked well in the seventies. They drafted the seven foot center from a national champion UCLA team. However this netted them not Alcindor or Walton but George Zidek. Zidek had a forgettable NBA career, and his selection looks worse in that the Hornets could have drafted Kansas center Greg Ostertag, taken just a few spots later.

    The lesson of the 1995 Draft is that the NBA Draft is a fickle being. The 1995 class had Garnett, Wallace, Stackhouse, Theo Ratliff, Michael Finley, and Damon Stoudamire. It also had second tier guys like Joe Smith, Bob Sura, Alan Henderson, Corliss Williamson, Kurt Thomas, and Travis Best. However this was the draft where you could end up with O’Bannon, Zidek, Respert, Gary Trent, Jason Caffey, or Loren Meyer.

    Next: Hornets Draft Series: Devin Booker