Say what you want about Isiah Thomas’ tenure with the New York Knicks. The team made the playoffs just once and whiffed on several big-money free agents during Thomas’ time with the team.
But the man had an eye for talent.
There’s no denying that.
Just look at four of the guys he drafted with the Knicks: Trevor Ariza, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson (technically drafted by the Phoenix Suns but acquired by the Knicks on a draft-day deal). All solid rotation players in the NBA.
So how does Thomas’ draft record stack up against other GMs?
One metric, put together by ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh, rates Thomas as the best draft-day GM in the NBA.
The evaluation is based on where Thomas selected in the draft and the value of each player he selected.
For instance, if two players add the same value to a team, but one is drafted lower than the other, the GM who drafted the player with the lower pick would get more credit.
So Thomas’ picks of Lee (No. 30 in 2005), Ariza (No. 43 in 2004), Chandler (No. 23 in 2007) and Robinson (No. 21 in 2005) boosted his resume.
Here’s Haberstroh on Thomas:
“Thomas put up an outstanding hit rate in the draft, no matter where he picked. His run of lottery picks in Toronto should be the stuff of lore. He started off by getting Damon Stoudamire with the No. 7 pick in 1995. Then with the No. 2 pick in 1996, he grabbed Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. The following year in 1997, he nabbed some high schooler named Tracy McGrady at No. 9.
“... Thomas' average pick was the 23rd slot, but the talent he found was more like picking at sixth every year. That's an absurdly good return. The irony is that Thomas never quite grasped the value of draft picks; he couldn't wait to get rid of them, despite his overwhelming success on draft day.”
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