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The last player taken in a draft usually gets the “Mr. Irrelevant” tag and while this is usually used more in the NFL/MLB/NHL where the drafts go several rounds as opposed to the NBA where there are just two rounds. Since the Charlotte Bobcats entered the NBA in 2004 the draft has had 60 players selected annually and I would say that Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas is the best no.60 player ever.
Thomas was drafted no.60 overall in the 2011 NBA draft out of the University of Washington, and he has been one of the Kings most efficient players who has been a very pleasant surprise and who has an exciting future at the NBA level. This season his minutes have increased monthly despite the fact that the point guard position in SacTown is very crowded with guys like Tyreke Evans, Aaron Brooks, and Jimmer Fredette competing for playing time.
Thomas is a fantastic value as he gives the Kings just over 11 points per game, and his 3.2 assists per game lead the team. Thomas will make $2 million combined over the three year rookie contract he is in the second year of, now compare that to the $6+ million slated to go to Brooks for this season and next plus Fredette will make $2.5 million this season. The Kings have a team option with Fredette each of the next two seasons that could add up to around $6 million, and Evans will be a restricted free-agent who is making north of $5 million currently so we could see the Kings go with the effective and affordable Thomas more and more going forward.
In his first 20 games this season Evans had just one game where he had at least five assists, but in his most recent 20 games he had at least five assists nine times. Thomas does need to turn around his shooting as that aspect of his game does need to further develop, but this young man has a big future (especially for the no.60 pick).
In years past the no.60 pick has been guys like Rashad Wright, Milovan Rakovic, Robert Dozier, and Dwayne Collins who have combined to play as many NBA games as you or I have played, which is to say – zero. Guards Alex Acker (played in 30 NBA games with zero starts…2.7 points per game) and Will Blalock (played 14 NBA games with zero starts…1.8 points per game) were back-to-back no.60’s by the Detroit Pistons, and seven footer Semih Erden was the no.60 in the 2008 draft by the Boston Celtics who played 69 games (17 starts) over three seasons with the C’s and the Cleveland Cavaliers (3.8 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game). These three guys, plus 2012 no.60 Robert Sacre (21 games, three starts and counting for the Los Angeles Lakers) are the only no.60’s that played at all in the NBA. Thomas is a rare find at no.60 that will be a legit NBA starter for years to come.
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