Re-Drafting Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and the 1995 NBA Draft Class

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 23, 2020

Re-Drafting Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and the 1995 NBA Draft Class

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    The 1995 NBA draft featured several trend-setting firsts, not the least of which being Kevin Garnett's bold move to rejuvenate the preps-to-pros movement.

    KG was the first high-schooler drafted since 1975, and he walked to the podium at No. 5 overall in the first draft to take place outside the United States. As a nod to the two Canadian franchises—the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies—joining the league that year, the NBA held the draft in Toronto's cavernous Rogers Center.

    It was something of a surprise to see Garnett go as high as fifth after so many years without a high school player involved. But it turns out the only shock was that the Big Ticket didn't come off the board first.

    As we re-order the 1995 draft, we'll consider longevity, peak years and overall impact on winning. Positional and team needs don't matter; this is strictly a "best player available" situation. Note, too, that we're acting as if any injuries or career-altering scenarios that happened in reality will also take place here.

    The lessons we learned from players picked in 1995 also endure. Which is to say, "anything is possible" and "ball don't lie."

1. Golden State Warriors: Kevin Garnett

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    Kevin Garnett isn't just the best player in this class. By some measures, he's the best player drafted in the entire decade of the 1990s—a stretch that includes luminaries like Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and more than a dozen others that are already in the Hall of Fame.

    KG leads everyone picked this decade in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), is tied with Duncan in career box plus/minus and trails only Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki in total win shares.

    Among his 1995 peers, Garnett is almost comically supreme—tops in total games, minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. 

    He revived the preps-to-pros movement, hipped modern coaches to the concept of the five-position defender, played harder than anyone else who crossed his path and is the only guy picked in 1995 with a legitimate claim to status as one of the game's all-time top-10 players. At a wiry and spring-loaded 6'11", he was, by turns, an elite facilitator, a rim-protector, a shutdown wing and a primary scoring option.

    Not enough?

    KG was also a 15-time All-Star who made nine All-NBA and 12 All-Defensive teams. He was the 2003-04 MVP, the 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year, won a ring as the Boston Celtics' best player in 2008 and is the only player in history to post three seasons with averages of at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.0 block.

    This draft has a handful of stars, but Garnett is its only legend.


    Actual Pick: Joe Smith

    Garnett's Actual Draft Slot: 5th, Minnesota Timberwolves

2. Los Angeles Clippers: Rasheed Wallace

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    It's ironic that one of the loudest players in recent memory was so subtly effective.

    Rasheed Wallace never averaged 20 points or 10 rebounds in any season, and the only stat he ever led the league in was technical fouls (seven times since 1999-00). But his defensive IQ and efficient scoring produced markedly positive on-court net ratings in each of his first 10 seasons.

    Wallace was an early adopter of the long ball among bigs, attempting 3,159 threes from 1995-96 to 2009-10, his last full season. Among players 6'10" or taller, that total ranked third in the entire NBA during that span. And unlike the guys ahead of him, Peja Stojakovic and Rashard Lewis, Wallace could punish opponents on the block and defend the rim.

    He's the only player from the 1995 draft to amass over 1,000 blocks and 1,000 made triples. In fact, he joins Dirk Nowitzki and Clifford Robinson as the only three guys from any draft class to do that.

    A star on some complicated but successful Portland Trail Blazers teams in the late '90s, Wallace peaked as a secondary scorer with the Detroit Pistons in his 30s. His late-season addition to that squad in 2003-04 was integral to its championship run.

    Wallace finished his career with four All-Star trips, a ring, the second-most win shares among 1995 selections and two vital basketball truisms: "ball don't lie" and "both teams played hard."


    Actual Pick: Antonio McDyess (traded to Denver Nuggets)

    Wallace's Actual Draft Slot: 4th, Washington Bullets

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Michael Finley

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    A young Michael Finley aced the eye test with a wiry 6'7" frame built for speed, power and elevation. He had more lift on his early-career jump shots than most guards achieved when driving for dunks. That he honed his stroke and eventually transitioned from combustible scoring star to savvy veteran role-filler speaks to a work ethic that made him the best wing in a draft full of good ones.

    Finley made the All-Star team in 2000 and 2001, leading the league in minutes both seasons as the second option behind Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks. When Steve Nash took over full-time starting duties in 2000-01, Dallas had one of the premier offensive trios in the NBA.

    Finley averaged over 20.0 points per game every year from 1997-98 to 2001-02 and didn't miss a single game in any of his first six seasons.

    No guard or wing selected in 1995 ranks ahead of Finley in total games, minutes, points, made threes or steals. There were 13 total seasons in which a player at any position from this draft averaged at least 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Garnett had nine of them. Finley produced the other four.

    The title he won with the 2007 San Antonio Spurs was well earned, as a 33-year-old Finley started all 20 playoff games in that championship run, shooting 41.9 percent from deep.


    Actual Pick: Jerry Stackhouse

    Finley's Actual Draft Slot: 21st, Phoenix Suns

4. Washington Bullets: Antonio McDyess

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    For the first six seasons of his career, right up to his All-Star berth in 2001, Antonio McDyess was on the short list of the league's top frontcourt forces.

    The powerful, high-rising 6'9" forward peaked statistically in his age-24 season, when he averaged 21.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 year, playing all 50 games and making the All-NBA third team.

    Those first six seasons (1995-96 to 2000-01) stack up just fine against the ones produced by Garnett and Wallace, the only two bigs ahead of him in our re-draft:

    • Garnett: 448 games, 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks
    • Wallace: 411 games, 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks
    • McDyess: 432 games, 17.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

    Unfortunately, McDyess ruptured his patellar tendon early in the 2001-02 campaign, which not only shelved him for the balance of that year but also the entirety of 2002-03, as he reinjured the same knee in an October 2002 preseason game.

    He went on to play until 2010-11 but was (understandably) never the same electrifying athlete.

    Remarkably, this isn't a case where we have to argue that McDyess' terrific early prime should balance out his lack of career production. He was so good in those first half-dozen seasons that he still ranks fifth in win shares, 10th in box plus/minus and seventh in VORP among 1995 picks.


    Actual Pick: Rasheed Wallace

    McDyess' Actual Draft Slot: 2nd, Los Angeles Clippers (traded to Denver Nuggets)

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jerry Stackhouse

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    Jerry Stackhouse came into the league gunning and piled up more points than any 1995 pick not named Garnett or Finley.

    Through a modern lens, the 6'6" wing's lack of efficiency is a tough look. Thirty-four players who debuted in 1995 or later took at least 13,000 career field-goal attempts. Stackhouse ranks dead last among them with a 44.6 effective field-goal percentage. Because he was an ace foul-drawer, the league leader in made free throws in 1999-00 and 2000-01, Stackhouse's true shooting percentage grades out better: He's 29th in the same 34-player class by that metric.

    Points are still valuable, though, and Stackhouse scored more of them in 2000-01 than anyone else in the NBA.

    He registered five seasons with a scoring average of at least 20.0 per game, and his inefficiency didn't necessarily kill his team's chances of success. Stackhouse made the playoffs in nine of his 18 seasons, playing 27.7 minutes per game for the 2005-06 Dallas Mavericks team that reached the Finals.

    A two-time All-Star with a career scoring average of 16.9 points per game, Stackhouse was a quality starter for the better part a decade. Five picks into our re-draft, we're already running out of those.


    Actual Pick: Kevin Garnett

    Stackhouse's Actual Draft Slot: 3rd, Philadelphia 76ers

6. Vancouver Grizzlies: Brent Barry

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    This is going to ruffle some feathers, as there are picks still on the board with more name recognition and casual-fan-pleasing stats. But Brent Barry has the advanced-metric case and a vast collection of cool points that say if there's a debate to be had at all here, it's about whether he should have gone ahead of Stackhouse.

    Barry led the NBA in three-point percentage (47.6) in 2000-01 and then led it in two-point percentage (58.8) the following year. His career 60.7 true shooting percentage is 11th in NBA history (among players who attempted at least 6,000 career shots).

    We're talking about one of the most efficient scorers to ever lace up sneakers.

    Yes, Barry is rightly thought of as a role player. He averaged 25.9 minutes per game and started just under half of the 912 contests he played during his 15-year career. But he had some star-level seasons that can't be overlooked. Garnett has the top nine single-season box plus/minus figures produced by 1995 draftees, but there's Barry's 2001-02 clocking in at No. 10—higher than any year from Wallace, Stackhouse, Finley and all the rest.

    And there he is again at No. 17, 23, 24, 25 and 27. All told, Barry has six of the top 27 single-season BPMs in this class. Garnett has a ridiculous 15, but Wallace, in third with four of the top 27, is the only other guy close to Barry.

    Throw in his 70.5 career win shares, which rank fourth among 1995 picks, and the fact that he won the 1996 Dunk Contest with a jam from the foul line while wearing his warm-up jacket, and Barry's case to go this high is locked in.


    Actual Pick: Bryant Reeves

    Barry's Actual Draft Slot: 15th, Denver Nuggets (traded to Los Angeles Clippers)

7. Toronto Raptors: Damon Stoudamire

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    It doesn't often work out this way, but reality and fantasy align as Damon Stoudamire goes to the Toronto Raptors with the seventh pick.

    Stoudamire won Rookie of the Year in 1996 after averaging 19.0 points, 9.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds, hitting 39.5 percent of his threes and starting all 70 games he played. After just two-and-a-half seasons with the Raptors, Stoudamire landed with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he occupied a less central role.

    A diminutive 5'10", "Mighty Mouse" struggled to score inside the arc, where his lack of explosion compounded his small stature and produced consistently poor efficiency marks from two-point range. The lefty had a quick release, though, which made him a dangerous pull-up shooter from beyond the arc and, since he played before long twos became taboo, a step inside the line.

    Stoudamire had a slick handle and effectively set up teammates after working his way into the lane. His 5,371 career assists are second in the class, but that's only because Garnett logged nearly 600 more career games. Stoudamire's assist percentage (31.0) and assist-per-game average are both the highest of any player picked in 1995. 

    Eighth in win shares and sixth in VORP, seventh to Toronto is the right spot for Stoudamire—even if it's a little less interesting for purposes of this exercise.


    Actual Pick: Damon Stoudamire

    Stoudamire's Actual Draft Slot: 7th, Toronto Raptors

8. Portland Trail Blazers: Joe Smith

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    We can all agree Joe Smith had no business going first in the real 1995 draft, but it's never been fair to label him a bust.

    Smith was an All-Rookie first-teamer with the Warriors, posting respectable averages of 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks with a career-high 17.2 Player Efficiency Rating. He never bettered that last figure, but Smith would go on to post seven other seasons with a PER at or above the league average of 15.0.

    He's one of only six players picked in 1995 to top 1,000 career games, and even if their judgment was suspect, the Minnesota Timberwolves believed he was good enough to circumvent the salary cap with an illegal wink-wink offer that cost them a $3.5 million fine and three years' worth of first-round picks.

    Smith also played for a whopping 12 different teams, which proves that even if he was never a star, somebody always wanted him around.


    Actual Pick: Shawn Respert

    Smith's Actual Draft Slot: 1st, Golden State Warriors

9. New Jersey Nets: Theo Ratliff

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    The last of six 1995 selections to ever play in an All-Star Game (Barry, Stoudamire and Smith never made it), Theo Ratliff moves up nine spots from his original draft position to crack the top 10.

    A rugged 6'10" center best known for starting alongside Allen Iverson on several solid Philadelphia 76ers teams, Ratliff wasn't much of a scorer but led the NBA in blocks per game three times. It's no surprise he leads all 1995 picks with a career 7.2 percent block rate.

    His best (and lone All-Star) campaign came in 2000-01 when he averaged 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in 36.0 minutes per game. Those were all career highs, and they came on a 56-win Sixers team that reached the NBA Finals, but Ratliff wouldn't get to participate in Philly's deep playoff run.

    After suffering a broken hand, the 76ers traded him to the Atlanta Hawks for Dikembe Mutombo prior to that year's deadline.


    Actual Pick: Ed O'Bannon

    Ratliff's Actual Draft Slot: 18th, Detroit Pistons

10. Miami Heat: Kurt Thomas

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    Because Kurt Thomas was one of those rare players who seemed old and grizzled for his entire career (he's like the Sam Elliott of the NBA), it'll surprise some to learn that he was once a 23-year-old rookie, coincidentally picked in this No. 10 slot by this Miami Heat team.

    Thomas was a burly 6'9" forward/center who spent eight of his 18 seasons with the New York Knicks, setting hard picks and always giving up size at his position. Principally a ground-bound bruiser but a capable shooter from the mid-range area, Thomas managed to average double-digit points every year from 2000-01 to 2004-05. The following season, he joined the Seven Seconds or Less Phoenix Suns, completing one of that era's oddest stylistic team-player contrasts.

    Steve Nash always appreciated "Dirty Kirty" for his bone-jarring screens.

    Thomas played until he was 40, proving high IQ and a willingness to absorb and administer physical punishment can sometimes be enough to produce unusually long careers. He finished up in 2012-13, getting a farewell tour with the Knicks.

    His 64.2 win shares rank sixth in the '95 class.


    Actual Pick: Kurt Thomas

    Thomas' Actual Draft Slot: 10th, Miami Heat

Late Lottery

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    11. Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Snow

    Eric Snow was a solid facilitator and a committed defender who ranks third in assists and fourth in steals among 1995 picks. But it'd be a gross understatement to call his scoring a weakness. Of the 331 players to debut since 1990 and attempt at least 5,000 shots in their careers, Snow ranks 322nd in true shooting percentage.

    It'll be a long time before we see another point guard attempt 53.7 percent of his shots from 10-23 feet—or start 551 games with a 20.8 percent hit rate on threes.

    But as proof that there's more to the game than scoring efficiently, Snow's teams were almost always better with him on the floor.


    12. Dallas Mavericks: Corliss Williamson

    "Never Scoreless" Corliss Williamson averaged 17.6 points per 36 minutes in his 12-year career, spending time as a starter with the late-'90s Kings and then transitioning into a (high-scoring) reserve role with the Pistons in the early 2000s.

    A decent rebounder but a consistent defensive negative, Williamson checks in at No. 12 among 1995 draftees with 34.7 win shares and is one of only eight players in this class to record a 40-point game.


    13. Sacramento Kings: Travis Best

    This draft is remarkably short on ball-handlers who could shoot, which is why Travis Best, a backup for the vast majority of his career, moves up 10 spots from his original position to land at No. 13. He and Stoudamire are the only point guards picked in 1995 with at least 5,000 points, 2,000 assists and a three-point percentage north of 34.0 percent.

    Best was a bench mainstay on several late-'90s Pacers teams that made deep playoff runs, and he had three years in which he hit better than 37.0 percent from deep. He's also first in steal rate in this class among guys who saw action in at least 500 games.

    That's enough two-way value to justify a significant climb up the draft order.


    14. Boston Celtics: Fred Hoiberg

    Among high-volume three-point shooters, which we'll define as players who got up at least 500 career threes, only Barry tops Fred Hoiberg's 39.6 percent conversion rate. Though he never scored more than the 9.1 points per game he averaged in 2000-01 with the Bulls, Hoiberg definitely went out on top, calling it a career after leading the league with a ridiculous 48.3 percent long-range accuracy mark in 2004-05.

    Bonus: His 115 wins as a head coach give him 115 more than anyone else drafted in his class.


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    15. Denver Nuggets: Bob Sura

    When Bob Sura could get his shot to fall, he performed like a low-end starter, which is saying something now that we've exited the lottery portion of the re-draft. For example, his 1999-00 season with the Cavs, one of just three years in which the combo guard posted a true shooting percentage above the league average, was worth 4.9 win shares, a figure that ranked in the top 100 leaguewide.

    A 6'5" combo guard who had some serious explosion in his younger years, Sura was also a flashy passer who played with noticeable swagger. Despite starting less than a third of his 657 career games, he managed to post four 20-point, 10-assist efforts—fifth-most in the class.

    16. Atlanta Hawks: Bryant Reeves

    Big Country came off the board at No. 6 in 1995, and if not for a career marred by injury, the plodding-but-skilled center might have retained that spot here. Weight issues and back trouble struck in his fourth season. But prior to that, Reeves looked the part of a lottery talent.

    In his first three years, he averaged 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, ranking seventh and second in the class to that point, respectively. He's the last man off the board in our re-draft with a 40-point game on his resume, but it's not fair to slot him any higher in light of a career that only spanned six seasons.

    17. Cleveland Cavaliers: Gary Trent

    A burly combo forward with a real knack for scoring against second units, Gary Trent is fifth in the 1995 class (among players with at least 500 career games) with an average of 15.9 points per 36 minutes. He's also one of just seven guys from that same sample to post a career effective field-goal percentage above 50.0 percent.

    Never much of a defender, Trent was a forceful finisher who powered his way to close range often and finished at a 66.2 percent clip inside three feet. He's also the only 1995 selection with a son currently on an NBA roster.


    18. Detroit Pistons: Alan Henderson

    Alan Henderson scored 14.3 points per game with a 53.4 true shooting percentage in 1997-98, his third (and best) NBA season. The 6'9" power forward won Most Improved Player that year but couldn't quite sustain the baseline he set going forward.

    Though he'd average double-digit points in the next three seasons, his scoring efficiency dipped below the league average until a late-career rejuvenation. He got his true shooting percentage back above the league average in each of his final three years, splitting them between the Mavericks, Cavs and Sixers.

    19. Detroit Pistons: Greg Ostertag

    If you close your eyes, you can still see Greg Ostertag bracing himself for Shaquille O'Neal to take a power dribble and hit him in the chest with that battering ram of a left shoulder. Ostertag, listed at 7'2" and 280 pounds, took plenty of punishment from Shaq and the West's other hefty bigs during the Utah Jazz's many deep playoff runs in the late 1990s, none of which resulted in a ring.

    Michael Jordan was waiting for them both times they reached the Finals.

    That a player of Ostertag's size shot under 50.0 percent from two-point range for his career tells you everything you need to know about his (lack of) offensive impact. But those Jazz teams were excellent, and they trusted Ostertag to play a significant role in meaningful games.

    20. Chicago Bulls: Eric Williams

    A better scorer than you remember, Eric Williams was one of just 11 picks from 1995 to average at least 10.0 points per game as a rookie. He followed that up with a jump to 15.0 in his second season. After a trade to Denver (thanks to Celtics head coach Rick Pitino's ill-advised housecleaning), Williams got off to a hot start, averaging 19.8 points per game.

    Sadly, a torn ACL ended what looked like a breakout campaign after just four games. The 6'8" wing was never the same after that, though he hung around for a total of 12 seasons and 658 career games.


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    21. Phoenix Suns: Tyus Edney

    This may seem high for a player who logged just 226 games over four NBA seasons. But Tyus Edney's peak, which came in his rookie year, was good enough to warrant this slot.

    After running the show for the national champion UCLA Bruins, Edney averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 assists while shooting 36.8 percent from three in 80 games (60 starts) for the Sacramento Kings. His role and production would diminish from that point on, but there were only a dozen seasons of at least 10.0 points and 6.0 assists produced by this entire class—and only four featured three-point shooting as accurate as Edney's.

    Nobody would have guessed it on draft night, but Edney had the most NBA success among players from that 1994-95 Bruins squad...unless you count current Warriors general manager Bob Myers.


    22. Charlotte Hornets: Andrew DeClercq

    Speaking of the Warriors, Golden State grabbed DeClercq with the 34th pick in 1995 and, based on his position here, got more than its money's worth.

    DeClercq, a 6'10" center, would only stick with the Dubs for two seasons before landing in Boston for the 1997-98 campaign. He spent the bulk of his time with the Magic, for whom he played his final five NBA seasons, often as a starter.

    Though short on mobility and touch, DeClercq ranks fifth in rebound rate among the 20 picks from 1995 who logged at least 500 career games.


    23. Indiana Pacers: Jason Caffey

    Among the first NBA players to sport the spider web-on-the-elbow tattoo, Jason Caffey was a 6'8" power forward who did his best work with the Warriors during the 1999-00 season, the only campaign in which he started more than 50 games.

    He averaged 12.0 points and 6.8 boards that season (not bad for a guy who finished his career at 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game), and he turned in some truly impressive efforts for a horrendous Dubs team that needed production wherever it could find it.

    Caffey's best game came in his first Warriors season following a mid-year trade from the champion Chicago Bulls. He hung 28 points, 12 boards, three assists and two steals on the Phoenix Suns in an April 13, 1998 loss, providing hope that, somehow, Golden State had stolen a gem from the mighty Bulls.

    Turns out, not so much.


    24. Dallas Mavericks: Kevin Ollie

    It took a while, but we've finally got our first undrafted player.

    Kevin Ollie was a game-managing point guard who coaches from 11 different NBA teams trusted to run the second- and third-unit offense. Though he averaged just 3.8 points and 2.3 assists for his career, his 662 games rank 15th in the class. He's proof that absent dynamic production, a steady hand that doesn't make mistakes is sometimes enough to prolong a career.


    25. Orlando Magic: Cherokee Parks

    A national champ as a freshman at Duke, Cherokee Parks didn't live up to his original No. 12 draft slot, but he hung around for nine seasons, which is quite an achievement this late in the re-draft first round.

    His best year came in 1997-98 when he started 43 of the 79 games he played, averaging 7.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 21.6 minutes per contest.

    It's a shame the 6'11" big man bagged his three-point shot after a rookie year in which 10.5 percent of his attempts came from beyond the arc. Parks was just 7-of-26 on treys that season, but he was consistently solid on long twos and might have added a rare spacing dimension if he'd been encouraged to stretch the floor a bit more.


    26. Seattle SuperSonics: Matt Maloney

    Our second and final undrafted player, Matt Maloney gets into the first round entirely on the strength of his first two seasons with the Houston Rockets. From 1996-97 to 1997-98, the point guard played and started 160 total games. And as a rookie, he shot a blistering 40.4 percent on threes and also started all 16 playoff games for a Rockets team that reached the conference finals.

    His days as a difference-maker were effectively done by 1999, but it's not easy to find a guy as battle-tested as Maloney (even if he wasn't in the fight for long) this late in the draft.


    27. Phoenix Suns: Don Reid

    He couldn't score at all (3.6 points per game and 75.7 percent of his buckets were assisted), but Don Reid is one of just three players picked in 1995 with a career rebound rate above 12.0 percent and a block rate above 4.0 percent.

    Among classmates who logged as many as Reid's eight seasons, he ranks fifth in win shares per 48 minutes. Though his contributions were inconspicuous unless you were scouring advanced metrics over two decades ago, the hard-working 6'8" power forward made a real impact in limited playing time off the bench.


    28. Utah Jazz: Cory Alexander

    A useful three-point specialist and facilitator during the first three years of his career, Cory Alexander teased the league by averaging 14.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 23 games following a mid-year move to the Denver Nuggets once he was waived by the San Antonio Spurs in 1998. He played over his head during that brief stretch and lost his long-range stroke the following season.

    Still, the point guard shot at least 37.3 percent from distance in each of his first three seasons and is one of only 20 picks from 1995 to finish his career with a positive VORP.


    29. San Antonio Spurs: Chris Carr

    Don't feel bad for Chris Carr, a six-year vet who barely scrapes his way into the first round. He went 56th overall to the Suns in the real draft, so this is a significant leap for the bouncy 6'5" wing.

    Carr couldn't dribble or pass (310 career turnovers to 294 assists), but he was a streaky three-point shooter on the catch and baptized more than his share of victims with high-rising dunks. He was also the runner-up to Kobe Bryant in the 1997 Dunk Contest.

    It feels right to close out this re-draft with a sweet lob from Garnett, our first pick, to Carr, our last.


    Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.