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

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.

YearPickPlayerWho he could have drafted
200723rdWilson ChandlerRudy Fernandez (24th), Aaron Brooks (26th), Carl Landry (31st)
200620thRenaldo BalkmanRajon Rondo (21st), Daniel Gibson (42nd), Paul Millsap (47th)
200629thMardy CollinsGibson, Millsap
20058thChanning FryeAndrew Bynum (10th), Danny Granger (17th)
200521stNate Robinson (from Phoenix)Jarrett Jack (22nd), Jason Maxiell (26th)
200530thDavid LeeN/A - great pick
200443rdTrevor ArizaN/A - great pick

I 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.