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The one thing Isiah Thomas was good at, he wasn't really good at

Aug 7, 2010, 2:00 PM EDT

With Isiah Thomas back in the Knickerbocker fold, his legacy is being re-examined. And as is natural, there’s a counter-movement to the sweeping flood of “What in God’s name are the Knicks thinking?” cries. There are those saying that Isiah’s terrible run with the Knicks is overstated by the media and exaggerated when discussed in retrospect. And the same defense of him keeps coming to the fold, just as it did when he was acquiring Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, and Stephon Marbury for the the same team (seriously, that was his big-name lineup at one point!).

“He drafted really well.”

That’s certainly what we thought while he was in charge. His players seemed like intriguing picks, and his star, David Lee, was a terrific player, even as he was underrated during his time in New York. But was Isiah really that solid of a draftnik?

Scott Carefoot of The Basketball Jones did a little review of Isiah’s drafting history and the results are not exactly enough to convince you he really was that good at the gig:

When you actually look at his track record, his last truly great move
with the Knicks was drafting David Lee with the 30th overall pick in
the 2005 draft. Let’s review his drafting history as the Knicks’ GM.

Year Pick Player Who he could have drafted
2007 23rd Wilson Chandler Rudy Fernandez (24th), Aaron Brooks (26th), Carl Landry (31st)
2006 20th Renaldo Balkman Rajon Rondo (21st), Daniel Gibson (42nd), Paul Millsap (47th)
2006 29th Mardy Collins Gibson, Millsap
2005 8th Channing Frye Andrew Bynum (10th), Danny Granger (17th)
2005 21st Nate Robinson (from Phoenix) Jarrett Jack (22nd), Jason Maxiell (26th)
2005 30th David Lee N/A – great pick
2004 43rd Trevor Ariza N/A – great pick

see two great late draft picks early in Isiah Thomas’ tenure and three
awful picks — including the last two selections at the end of his reign
of error. For a former point guard, he sure doesn’t seem all that
effective at recognizing point guard talent.

This is all before we examine the fact that the draft has proven time and time again to be a crapshoot and that you need to not only be extremely shrewd with your selections, but incredibly lucky as well. So before we start telling ourselves that Isiah’s not as bad as we remember, let’s consider that the Knicks only last June gave up the last draft pick Thomas gave away for terrible players, and that they’ll be swapping or giving up their next two in order to make room to sign Amar’e, which then also cost them draft picks.

The devastation continues.

  1. n8 - Aug 7, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    How can anyone say that Wilson Chandler is an “awful” pick? thats absurd, especially when comparing him to Rudy Fernandez?? Anyone take a look at what Rudy did last season? I guess not. For all of nate robinson’s flaws one thing is for sure he is just as good of a rotational NBA player as Maxiel and for the duration of their career he has been a better player than Jack. Now ofcourse he has made his fair share of draft blunders, but who is to say Rondo would have been the exceptional player he is now without the leadership and guidence of future Hall of Fame players? Hindsight is 20/20 but this post is just absurd. And any SMART follower of the NBA will undoubtedly know that no matter how awful Isiah was he was leaps and bounds better than Layden.

  2. Moni - Aug 7, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    Wow, this post is pretty dumb. There are ALWAYS gonna be surprises picked late. Using this logic every single gm in the history of the L was a bad drafter. You can take any gm and find drafts where picks later in the draft went on to be better players. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
    Maxiel, gibson, fernandez? Really? Are those guys significantly better than balkman or chandler?

  3. wishfind - Aug 7, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    You guys just made Matt Moore’s point. The draft is a crap shoot. So should you bring back Isiah Thomas because he was good at the crap shoot? Even when he wasn’t. Maybe you could argue average so why bring this cancer back to your organization? And he enjoys sexually harassing women – that’s always a plus.
    This is why the Knicks won’t be successful – their fans not only accept substandard performers but also defend it.

  4. tilldothatbulls - Aug 7, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    hey so checks what i came across yesterday by accident. its like this sports linked out central thing. , i think i found a gem. i usually do. ha. ok cya buddy

  5. August - Aug 7, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    How this post got through an editor is insane. You ripping Isiah for falling victim to the crap shoot of the draft? Based on your logic, Larry Bird, Jerry Sloan and who ever the GM for the Hawks should be in the same category. Their draft history in that time span may be just as bad. Unless your logic is, “If you hit on an star, you can strike out on your other picks”. The title of your post should have read, “The draft is a crap shoot, and Isiah Thomas, like most GMs, fell victim to the house.

  6. pat - Aug 7, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    There are people out there that I call “media sheep”: they run with anything the media says. It’s no secret that Thomas has a poor relationship with media. Intelligent fans know that when Thomas took the job the knicks were already run into the ground. He had no cap space to work with, no good lottery positions, no Talent and no trade able contracts. All he did was trade high paid no talent players for not great players with talent. What move could any one else have made that would have had the Knicks in the playoffs? The Knicks were doomed when they traded Ewing and signed a bunch of nothing.

  7. Robj - Aug 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Yea, it’s unanimous. This is a terrible article.
    NO GM can possibly be able to pick the best player on the board with every single pick. It’s impossible.
    Every single year there are players drafted in the 2nd round and beyond who have better careers than some first rounders. Looking back at individual picks and saying Isaiah Thomas wasn’t great at the draft because he could have gotten better players is about as unfair as it gets.
    Who knew Rondo would turn out to be this good?
    Who knew Granger would develop so much?
    Isaiah Thomas was a terrible coach, but give the man his due. He could pick ’em. You’ve gotta give him that.

  8. angrytwitterguy - Feb 9, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Im LOL’ing at this right now

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