Isaiah Thomas: The Best Last Pick in the NBA Modern Era


As kids growing up, most players have hopes of hearing their name called first in the NBA draft. With all the talent taken with the number one overall pick, names like Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James, not many people care to remember the final picks. But in 2011, Thomas would be selected with the 60th pick and since has given everyone a reason to remember his name. Since the NBA Draft changed to its current two round format in 1989, Isaiah Thomas is the lowest drafted player to make an All Star game. In 2005, the Draft expanded to 60 picks divided into two rounds. Other than Robert Sacre, Thomas is the only player selected 60th overall who still plays in the NBA today. Actually since 1989, 15 of the 26 players selected last never played a single game in the NBA, while the rest never had any real impact on the teams they played for.

After being drafted by the Sacramento Kings, Thomas seemed too have found a permanent home in the NBA. Gradually increasing his stats every year, he would average 20 points and 6 assists per game in his last year with the Kings. While with Sacramento, Thomas set a couple NBA records even though it was such a short period. He became the first player drafted last to ever be named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month in February, 2012 and again the following month. On March 8th, 2014 he recorded his first triple-double, becoming the shortest player to ever accomplish that feat. With the end of that year he also became on the 5th player in NBA history under 6″ to average more than 20 points and 6 assists in a season.

In July of 2014, Thomas was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Alex Oriakhi (who never played a single game for Sacramento) before having wrist surgery a month later to correct an injury he sustained while a member of the Kings. Thomas’ wrist would be healed and ready for the Suns home opener versus the Lakers, where he would put up 23 points. The next game Thomas would put up 23 points again, becoming only the 4th player in Suns’ history to score at least 23 points in their first two games with the team. Before All Star weekend in 2015, Thomas was name as a contestant for the Skills Challenge, becoming the shortest player to ever compete. Two weeks later on Febraury 19th, he was traded to the Boston Celtics for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first round pick. Some found it funny that he was now a member of the Celtics, because of being named after Isaiah Thomas from the old “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons in the 1980’s, who hated Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.

That trade to the Celtics has seemed to breathe new life into Thomas’ career. Though he did not start a single game for Boston his first year on the roster, he still managed to put up 19.0 points and 5.4 assists per game, both higher than his totals before being traded from Phoenix. Thomas would be runner up for the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2015 while in the midst of a first round series versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston would get swept by LeBron and the Cavaliers in four games, in which Isaiah averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds. This season Thomas was named the starting point guard for the Celtics and had his best statistical year since his last season in Sacramento. Averaging 22.2 points, 6.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, he would lead the Celtics to their best regular season record since 2010.

With the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, Thomas and the Celtics found themselves against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Isaiah would score a career high 42 points against Atlanta in Game 3 at home, becoming only the 9th Celtic to ever score 40+ in a playoff game. He scored the most points for his team 6 out of the 7 games, having three 25+ point outings. For the series he averaged 24.2 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. As of this year, Thomas is 3rd in Celtics playoff history in PPG average with 21.5 (min. 10 games played). Next season he will try to bring the Celtics their first championship since 2008. In five years, Isaiah Thomas has shown to be a promising player with a bright NBA career ahead of him, without a doubt being the best player ever drafted last overall.

About Emanuel Godina

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