The 6 Best Things About The 1995 NBA Draft Class

1995 NBA Draft pick Kevin Garnett dunking the basketball.

The 1995 NBA Draft was the 49th in league history since its founding during the 1946-1947 season. Held on June 28, 1995, it was hosted at the SkyDome, now Rogers Center, in Ontario, Canada, the first time the draft was held outside the United States.

The draft marked the inaugural seasons of the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors, two new Canadian expansion teams, who would both be awarded the 6th and 7th picks in the draft. The Golden State Warriors won the draft lottery and were awarded the #1 overall pick despite having just the 5th best odds to do so.

Below are the 6 best things about the 1995 NBA Draft Class.

#6 Ed O’Bannon

After having an outstanding collegiate career at UCLA, Ed O’Bannon struggled in the NBA, averaging 5 PPG over just 2 seasons in the league. However, he had a major impact on the sports world, apart from his professional career with his antitrust lawsuit, O’Bannon vs. NCAA, that resulted in the discontinuation of all NCAA video games.

The lawsuit claimed that collegiate athletes were entitled to compensation upon graduation for future uses of their likeness. O’Bannon’s efforts helped to pave the way for the allowing financial compensation for collegiate athletes, who had previously been denied all forms of compensation while attending college.

#5 Power Forwards Galore

The 1995 draft class produced an abundance of power forwards in its lottery picks, many of whom would go on to have very successful careers in the NBA. In total, 7 of the 13 lottery picks were either power forwards or spent large portions of their career at the power forward position.

After Kevin Garnett, the two most successful power forwards were #4 pick Rasheed Wallace and #2 pick Antonio McDyess. Wallace was most known for being the best player on the Portland Trail Blazers for several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before playing a key role on the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons championship team.

Interestingly, Wallace also served as an assistant coach for the Pistons during the 2013-2014 season. For the first 6 years of his career, McDyess rivaled Garnett as the best player of the 95 NBA draft class, before injuries forced him into a role player for the rest of his playing days.

#4 Expansion Picks – Bryant Reeves and Damon Stoudamire

Both picks by the new expansion teams, Bryant Reeves of the Grizzlies and Damon Stoudamire of the Raptors, had initial early success with their respective teams.

After being the 6th pick Reeves averaged 15.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG over his first 3 years with the team, before injuries derailed his career, and forced him to retire at the end of the 2000-2001 season. Reeves was one of the few consistent bright spots for the Grizzlies franchise during its disastrous 6-year tenure in Vancouver before it moved to Memphis.

Where was Damon Stoudamire drafted? The 7th pick, Damon Stoudamire averaged 19.6 PPG, 9 APG, and 1.5 SPG over his first 2 seasons with the Raptors and appeared to be a potential franchise player.

However, the Raptors struggled mightily during Stoudamire’s tenure, winning just 51 games in his first 2 seasons with the team. After team vice president Isiah Thomas resigned during the 1997-1998 season, Stoudamire immediately demanded a trade and was dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers.

#3 Joe Smith wasn’t that bad

Who was the number one pick in the 1995 NBA Draft? Although he had a disappointing career considering he was the 1995 NBA Draft 1st pick, many NBA fans forget that power forward Joe Smith had a moderately, successful 16-year career.

Despite the fact he never made an All-Star team like the 1996 or 1994 NBA draft 1st pick, Smith ended up having decent career averages of 10.9 PPG and 6.4 RPG, while also shooting 79% from the free throw line. Part of what hampered his career was his inability to find a home in the NBA, as he played for 12 different franchises.

He also made a poor business decision to turn down an $80 million contract extension from the Golden State Warriors, because he wanted to play on the East Coast. Smith would never again get a contract offer near that amount, earning just over $61 million for the entirety of his career.

#2 Shawn Respert

Most NBA fans probably haven’t heard of Shawn Respert, the #8 pick in the draft out of Michigan State. Although on the surface, Respert’s career may have seemed disappointing, with a 4.9 PPG average over just 4 seasons, he was one of the toughest athletes that have ever played in the NBA.

Unbeknownst to his teammates and his family at the time, Respert was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1996, yet continued to play while undergoing radiation treatments. In today’s world, an athlete hiding a cancer diagnosis is almost unthinkable, as sports leagues and society, in general, have become far more supportive of physical and mental illness.

The fact that Respert was able to undergo cancer treatment and beat cancer entirely, all while continuing a career for 4 seasons in the NBA is simply an incredible accomplishment that deserves more attention.

#1 Kevin Garnett

The #5 overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett, was the first player drafted directly out of high school since 1975. Kevin Garnett draft age of 19 years and 1 month would make him by far the youngest player in the NBA that season as most rookies at the time generally had at least 2-3 years of collegiate experience.

Garnett would end up having a great career, spending 21 seasons in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 17.8 PPG, 10 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 BPG, and 1.3 SPG for his career, spent mostly at the power forward position, and shot 49.7% from the field and 78.9% from the free throw line.

Garnett was a 15-time NBA All-Star, 4-time All-NBA First Team selection, the 2003-2004 NBA Most Valuable Player, the 2007-2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

Who was in the 1995 NBA Draft Class?

1st Round Lottery Picks

  1. Joe Smith (Golden State Warriors)
  2. Antonio McDyess (Los Angeles Clippers)
  3. Jerry Stackhouse (Philadelphia 76ers)
  4. Rasheed Wallace (Washington Bullets)
  5. Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  6. Bryant Reeves (Vancouver Grizzlies)
  7. Damon Stoudamire (Toronto Raptors)
  8. Shawn Respert (Portland Trail Blazers)
  9. Ed O’Bannon (New Jersey Nets)
  10. Kurt Thomas (Miami Heat)
  11. Gary Trent (Milwaukee Bucks)
  12. Cherokee Parks (Dallas Mavericks)
  13. Corliss Williamson (Sacramento Kings)

Non-Lottery First Round Picks

  1. Eric Williams (Boston Celtics)
  2. Brent Barry (Denver Nuggets)
  3. Alan Henderson (Atlanta Hawks)
  4. Bob Sura (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  5. Theo Ratliff (Detroit Pistons)
  6. Randolph Childress (Detroit Pistons)
  7. Jason Caffey (Chicago Bulls)
  8. Michael Finley (Phoenix Suns)
  9. George Zídek (Charlotte Hornets)
  10. Travis Best (Indiana Pacers)
  11. Loren Meyer (Dallas Mavericks)
  12. David Vaughn (Orlando Magic)
  13. Sherell Ford (Seattle SuperSonics)
  14. Mario Bennett (Phoenix Suns)
  15. Greg Ostertag (Utah Jazz)
  16. Cory Alexander (San Antonio Spurs)

2nd Round Picks

  1. Lou Roe (Detroit Pistons)
  2. Dragan Tarlać (Chicago Bulls)
  3. Terrence Rencher (Washington Bullets)
  4. Junior Burrough (Boston Celtics)
  5. Andrew DeClercq (Golden State Warriors)
  6. Jimmy King (Toronto Raptors)
  7. Lawrence Moten (Vancouver Grizzlies)
  8. Frankie King (Los Angeles Lakers)
  9. Rashard Griffith (Milwaukee Bucks)
  10. Donny Marshall (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  11. Dwayne Whitfield (Golden State Warriors)
  12. Erik Meek (Houston Rockets)
  13. Donnie Boyce (Atlanta Hawks)
  14. Eric Snow (Milwaukee Bucks)
  15. Anthony Pelle (Denver Nuggets)
  16. Troy Brown (Atlanta Hawks)
  17. George Banks (Miami Heat)
  18. Tyus Edney (Sacramento Kings)
  19. Mark Davis (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  20. Jerome Allen (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  21. Martin Lewis (Golden State Warriors)
  22. Dejan Bodiroga (Sacramento Kings)
  23. Fred Hoiberg (Indiana Pacers)
  24. Constantin Popa (Los Angeles Clippers)
  25. Eurelijus ukauskas (Seattle SuperSonics)
  26. Michael McDonald (Golden St. Warriors)
  27. Chris Carr (Phoenix Suns)
  28. Cuonzo Martin (Atlanta Hawks)
  29. Don Reid (Detroit Pistons)

Overshadowed by the “Kobe Bryant NBA Draft class”

The NBA draft 1995 class was a relatively underwhelming class, propped up by the legendary career of Kevin Garnett. However, it did produce many good power forwards, apart from Garnett, as well as some fascinating individuals who persevered through personal and physical struggles to play in the league.

This draft would soon be dwarfed by the talent of the 1996 NBA Draft first-round picks the following year. The 1996 NBA Draft best players would consist of an incredible amount of star power with Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash.