“With the fifth pick in the 1995 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Kevin Garnett from Farragut Academy in Chicago.” These were the words from then-NBA commissioner David Stern at the Skydome in Toronto on the evening of June 28, 1995. The first player selected in the draft straight from high school since 1975, Garnett would go on to have one of the great careers in NBA history.
Over the course of 21 NBA seasons with three teams (Timberwolves, Celtics, Nets), Kevin Garnett scored 26,071 points, good for 18th on the all-time scoring list. His career average says just 17.8 points per night but those numbers are a bit skewed due to the fact that he took on a supporting role his last few years in the league. Garnett had nine consecutive seasons in which he averaged 20 or more points per game. He also led the NBA in rebounding four consecutive years, from 2003-2007, and averaged 10 boards for his career.
In his two decades in the league, Kevin Garnett was a 15-time NBA All-Star, a nine-time All-NBA selection, a 12-time All-Defensive Team selection, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, the NBA MVP in 2004, and an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics in 2008. Garnett finally retired in 2016 and is assured of a spot in the Hall of Fame.
But what about the four players drafted before him in the 1995 NBA draft? How did their careers match up to that of Kevin Garnett?
4. Joe Smith
Joe Smith was the first overall pick in the 1995 NBA draft out of Maryland and is largely considered a bust, despite playing 15 years in the league. Drafted by the Golden State Warriors, Smith finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting, averaging 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds. He played even better in year two, posting a career-high 18.7 points and 8.5 rebounds. Smith was traded to Philadelphia in his third year and he became a journeyman for the rest of his career.
From 1998 to his retirement in 2011, Smith switched teams 14 times and played for a total of 12 franchises in his career. Smith is one of the most traded players in NBA history. He would finish his career with averages of 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
3. Antonio McDyess
Alabama power forward Antonio McDyess was selected second in the 1995 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers but was moved to the Denver Nuggets before the season began. McDyess was also a member of the 1996 All-Rookie Team, averaging 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in his rookie campaign in Denver. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns in his third year but returned to the Nuggets the following season.
After winning a gold medal with USA Basketball at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, McDyess was an All-Star in 2001, becoming just the third Nuggets player in history to average 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season. He suffered a serious knee injury and missed the entire 2002-2003 season and was never the same player. He never averaged double digits in points or rebounds the remainder of his career, split between the Knicks, Suns, Pistons, and Spurs. Antonio McDyess retired in 2011.
2. Jerry Stackhouse
Of the four players on this list, Jerry Stackhouse, who was chosen third in the 1995 NBA draft by the 76ers, leads the way in career points per game with 16.9 over the course of 18 NBA seasons. Like Kevin Garnett, Stackhouse became more of a role player in his last few seasons in the league. His biggest scoring year came in 2000-2001, his second consecutive year as an NBA All-Star, when he averaged 29.8 points per game with the Detroit Pistons, second only to league MVP and former teammate Allen Iverson.
Stackhouse was involved in the deal that brought Richard Hamilton to the Pistons and headed to the Washington Wizards. After two years there, he spent five years with the Dallas Mavericks and also played for the Bucks, Heat, Hawks, and Nets before retiring in 2013.
1. Rasheed Wallace
Jerry Stackhouse’s teammate at the University of North Carolina, Rasheed Wallace, was taken fourth in the 1995 NBA draft by the Washington Bullets, now known as the Wizards. While Stackhouse might have been a better scorer, Wallace was the whole package. He put up points when he needed to but his defensive presence was menacing. It also must be noted that he’s the only player besides Kevin Garnett in the top five of the ’95 draft to win an NBA title, doing so with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
During his 16-year career (he first retired in 2010 but played 21 games for the Knicks in the 2012-2013 season), Rasheed Wallace averaged 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. He was named to the NBA All-Star team four times. Also known for running a bit hot, Wallace set the NBA record for technical fouls in a single season with 41 in the 2000-2001 season.
It’s a little strange that the rankings went in order, isn’t it? Players got better as the 1995 NBA draft went along, up until Kevin Garnett anyway. The trend stopped at pick number six when the then-Vancouver Grizzlies selected Bryant Reeves, who played just six seasons.