A Look Back: 1995 NBA Draft
Posted on November 16 2020
A Look Back: 1995 NBA Draft
In preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft on Nov. 18, The Chucker, 19nine’s resident historian, takes us back to milestone drafts of the past. Today, the 1995 draft. The first draft held outside of the U.S., Toronto hosted a draft perhaps best remembered for launching the preps-to-pros surge that would come to define early 2000s NBA.
Pre-draft Buzz: Who invited the high school kid? While early entrants had become increasingly commonplace throughout the 1990s, few freshmen even tested the draft waters. A high schooler, meanwhile, had not attempted to make the preps-to-pros jump in two decades. Kevin Garnett sought to change all that, but who would actually pull the trigger and draft the lean 18-year-old prodigy?
The Top Pick: The Golden State Warriors tabbed Maryland sophomore Joe Smith. A solid pro who played 16 NBA seasons and routinely averaged in double figures, Smith nevertheless fell short of top-pick expectations. He never made an All-NBA team and has the distinction of being one of the most traded players in NBA history. In fact, Smith played for 12 different NBA franchises over his career.
The Top Pro: For all the pre-draft concerns about taking a high school kid, Garnett proved to be a generational talent. The lone Hall of Famer from the 1995 Draft class, Garnett collected more NBA Win Shares than his next two peers combined (Rasheed Wallace with 105.1 and Michael Finley with 85.2). He captured an MVP Award, an NBA title, and was undeniable star for the bulk of his 21-year NBA career.
The Highest-Picked Who: After a slew of big-name college prospects from major programs – and one headline-grabbing high school product – Miami nabbed Kurt Thomas with the #10 pick. Only the biggest college basketball fans could claim they had heard of Thomas, who, despite leading the NCAA in scoring and rebounding, garnered little national acclaim playing for TCU. Thomas enjoyed an 18-year NBA career.
Notable Names: The 1995 Draft gave us some memorable ones – Sheed and Stack, Big Country and The Mayor. How about this unexpected one? Behind Garnett, Wallace, and Finely in Win Shares sits a guy nicknamed Bones: Brent Barry. The one-time slam dunk champion had a sneaky good 14-year NBA career.
The Hidden Gem: On draft night, few knew Theo Ratliff, who played in relative obscurity at Wyoming. Ratliff, however, wasn’t an unknown for long. The #18 pick by Detroit, Ratliff carved out a successful 16-year NBA career that included one All-Star nod and two All-Defensive team nods. He also led the league in blocked shots three times.
Drop Knowledge on Your Boys: The 1995 Draft remains the first and only time three players from the same high school team were selected in the opening two rounds of the same NBA Draft. Michael Finley (#21 to Phoenix), Sherell Ford (#26 to Seattle), and Donnie Boyce (#42 to Atlanta) led Proviso East High School outside of Chicago to the 1991 basketball title in Illinois.
19nine Connection: The final pick in the first round, Cory Alexander starred on the 1994-95 Virginia squad that made a memorable run into the Elite Eight.