Isiah Thomas reveals he wanted to make Kevin Garnett the 1st pick in Raptors history
The Toronto Raptors nearly got a gem and a future Hall of Famer in Kevin Garnett after Isiah Thomas was hired to be executive vice president of basketball operations for the then-expansion team in 1994.
The soon-to-be Hall of Famer had scouted Garnett as one of his first jobs as an executive and was anxious to make him the first-ever franchise draft pick:
“The first guy I scouted was Kevin Garnett,” Thomas told Brandon Robinson of Heavy.com. “I wanted to make him the first pick for the Toronto Raptors franchise.”
Thomas thought Garnett would be available at No. 7 due to other teams’ hesitation to draft a lanky kid straight out of high school. Garnett was the only high schooler in that 1995 NBA Draft, a night filled with plenty of college seniors making their way to the league.
Shortly before the draft, his friend and former Eastern Conference rival Kevin McHale (then VP of the Minnesota Timberwolves) called to ask about his thoughts on the young Garnett. Thomas bluntly revealed his thoughts on KG:
“If you don’t draft him, I will,” Thomas simply told McHale.
It’s no surprise that Thomas had his eye on Garnett, as they’re both Chicago natives.
As fate would have it, McHale took on Thomas’ advice and nabbed Garnett at No. 5, two spots before the Raptors. Toronto went with Arizona senior point guard Damon Stoudamire.
As it turns out, Garnett is the lone Hall of Famer from that class. Only six players made an All-Star Game. No. 2 pick Antonio McDyess and Garnett were the only ones to become All-Stars and make All-NBA.
Thomas might have had the eye for talent, but his Raptors simply didn’t have a high enough selection to get Garnett to Canada. It would have been interesting to see how things would have turned out if KG wound up in Toronto instead of Minnesota.