If you were sleeping under a rock yesterday, you wouldn’t know that Isaiah Thomas made his season debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday against the Portland Trailblazers. Although Thomas only played 19 minutes, he scored 17 points off of 6-12 shooting. He showed flashed of his previous self in most plays, giving many people the realization that Isaiah Thomas is still a star point guard. Nevertheless, Thomas wasn’t always viewed as a hot commodity in the NBA. In fact, he was selected with the 60th final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Now that it has been seven years since that draft, we can now make reasonable guesses as to who lived up to their draft expectations and who didn’t. In fact, here are 15 players that were drafted ahead of Isaiah Thomas whom he’s now better than.
15. Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter is undoubtedly a good player. He is proving to be a valuable starter for the New York Knicks, averaging 13.4 PPG and 10.1 RPG. Kanter is starting to bloom into the player he was supposed to be in the draft, which is a physical rebounding center. He lacks a consistent outside shot, but with Kristaps Porzingis at the power forward position, it doesn’t really matter. Kanter was selected with the third pick of the 2011 Draft by the Utah Jazz. He went on to become a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, before being traded to the Knicks. While he is a solid addition to the Knicks, he isn’t indispensable or MVP-caliber in any way. He’s simply a good player on an average team.
14. Tristan Thompson
Where do I begin. Tristan Thompson was selected with the fourth pick in the 2011 draft. The selection could have been better since the Cavaliers had two top five picks, but they already got what they wanted with Kyrie Irving. In any case, Tristan Thompson isn’t the player that deserves that selection, especially after his immense collapse when the Cavaliers were the defending NBA champions. Nowadays, Thompson is averaging 4.6 PPG and 5 RPG. He is totally living up to his earnings of $15.33 million a year. Obviously, Thompson cant even lace Thomas’ shoes, even if they are on the same team. Understandably, Thomas was never going to get the 4th pick, but it would be amazing if he did instead of a flawed rebounding center who can’t space the floor.
13. Bismack Biyombo
If you thought that Tristan Thompson was a horrible selection, wait until you get a look at Bismack Biyombo. This is not to say that Biyombo is a horrible player. He’s a great defender and high energy rebounder. Still, that shouldn’t be enough to gain the seventh pick in the 2011 Draft. Biyombo doesn’t have any kind of a perimeter shot, and doesn’t show the willingness to ever develop one. The Orlando Magic were fooled into paying $17 million per year for a traditional power forward who can’t leave the paint. It hasn’t boded well for the Magic at all, since they are 14th in the Eastern Conference. Thomas wasn’t the player he is known as today in the draft seven years ago, but Biyombo kind of was. The game he has played then is the game he plays now, which isn’t what the NBA requires in modern day power forwards now.
12. Brandon Knight
Besides being known for as a training dummy for Kyrie Irving’s crazy handles, Knight was a good point guard at the draft. Selected by the Detroit Pistons, he became the team’s starting point guard, scoring 12.8 PPG on a blistering 38% three point shooting. Knight’s career has still been a bit inconsistent lately. Some years, you can argue that Knight is among the NBA’s most talented point guards. While in others, you just feel sorry for him. Knight has recently torn his ACL, disqualifying him from the entire 2017-2018 season. Hopefully, Knight can return 100% from his injury, but it would be a bit of a stretch to even compare him to Isaiah Thomas at this point. He simply lacks success that Thomas has sustained for the Boston Celtics.
11. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker has become one of the best point guards in the NBA. Here are some defining differences between the two star point guards. Kemba Walker is a good player on a average team. Isaiah Thomas is a great player on a great team. Thomas is a MVP caliber player that can impact a team immediately. Walker is star player that plays individually well. Thomas has post season success with the Boston Celtics, even as a undersized point guard. Walker has inconsistent post season appearances, and hasn’t won a playoffs series. All in all, Thomas is an impactful player, while Walker is a good player. Selected with the ninth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Walker has lived up to his selection. He probably should have been selected a bit higher. Still, he isn’t better than Thomas by a long shot.
10. Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer Fredette has blossomed into an amazing player for the Shanghai Sharks, in China. He has even scored 73 points for the Sharks, which is tied for the fourth most in CBA history. He never truly had a good career in the NBA, falling out of favor with the Sacramento Kings, the team that drafted him with the 10th pick in the 2011 draft. Fredette was drafted to become a terrific shooter of Klay Thompson’s caliber. Instead, he became a rotation player and an average three point shooter. There is no mistake. Jimmer Fredette is not on Isaiah Thomas’ level. He never was. Thomas scored 11.5 PPG in his first year for the Kings, while Fredette only scored 7.6 PPG. Fredette is still a better shooter now, but he isn’t on Thomas’ level at this point of his career.
9. Alec Burks
Alec Burks was drafted with the 12th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Burks was supposed to be a cornerstone player for the Utah Jazz, but that hasn’t quite happened yet. Burks is a versatile guard who is athletic enough to make a career at attacking the rim. He’s a good inside scorer and a willing defender, but his injuries have held him back. Nowadays, Burks has improved tremendously with his three point shot. He is currently shooting 37% from deep, while scoring 9.6 points per game. Right now, Burks is what the Jazz need in a role player. Obviously, Thomas is the better player in a variety of ways, so there is really no argument here.
8. Markieff Morris
In the 2011 Draft, it was interesting to see the Morris twins selected a spot from each other. With the 13th of the draft, the Suns selected Markieff Morris. Markieff Morris came into the NBA with a reputation he lived up to. He became an efficient big man with a good shooting stroke. For the Washington Wizards, Morris has been exceptional. He is averaging 10.2 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. He is even shooting 38% from the three point line. Still, Morris isn’t an explosive player that can get buckets in bunches. He is just a complementary player to Wall and Beal, and players good in his system. That’s pretty much it.
7. Marcus Morris
Marcus Morris was selected a pick after his brother, but he was just as respected. Unlike his brother, Marcus is a traditional big man with the ability to shoot the mid range with precision. For the Boston Celtics, Marcus Morris is averaging 11.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG. He has developed a consistent three point game, shooting 36% from deep. Morris is just like his brother in terms of his role. He is a great addition to the Celtics, serving as their beat-em-up big man down low, and a threat from the perimeter. Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Morris both played for the Celtics once upon a time, and it was clear who the leader was. Under Thomas, Marcus was a solid backup, nothing more and nothing less.
6. Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic was a steal for the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th pick of the 2011 Draft. He is a great rebounding big man that can shoot around the perimeter, and he is averaging 17.4 PPG 9.3 RPG for the Orlando Magic this year. If the Magic were more successful, Vucevic would probably get more recognition for his talent. This article may be about Isaiah Thomas, but Vucevic was underrated in the draft as well. He isn’t the player Thomas is, but if he can stay healthy, he may break out in a similar way next year.
5. Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert was drafted with the 17th pick of the draft, and he was supposed to become a 3 and D guy with a permanent spot in a NBA rotation. That hasn’t really happened yet for Shumpert as of 2018. He is a good shooter, but he can’t get his own shot. His defense is alright, but he isn’t a stopper that can neutralize opposing guards. Shumpert is a role player at best, and he just may be out of Cleveland soon, especially if LeBron James leaves next season. There really isn’t an argument here. Thomas is a much better player in all areas, except defense. That makes me wonder if Shumpert and Thomas could have been switched in the draft, seven years ago.
4. Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris was drafted with the 19th pick of the NBA Draft. Considering the type of player he is now, he should have went much higher. Tobias Harris is averaging 18 PPG for the Detroit Pistons, and he is shooting 44% from deep. Again, he is shooting 44% from deep. That’s amazing, and he is throwing up six attempts per game. Harris is a big contributor for the Pistons, who are trying to get back into the Playoffs. Maybe if he can elevate his game in more areas, such as rebounding and passing, he could be better than Thomas. However, for now, Thomas is the better player. For now, at least.
3. Donatas Motiejunas
What used to be a solid center when he was in the NBA, Donatas Motiejunas certainly is fighting for a job in the NBA. He was in the NBA and played well for his position, then all of a sudden, he vanished. Motiejunas doesn’t even have a NBA job, so it would be impossible to compare him to Isaiah Thomas. In fact, why was he selected over Thomas in the first place? Motiejunas has never had a NBA even close to that of Thomas, so his place on this list is a given.
2. Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried was actually a steal in the 2011 NBA Draft. Faried was selected with the 22nd pick in the draft, and proved to be that dynamic rebounder that the Denver Nuggets needed. Faried is a high energy, undersized power forward that is faster than most forwards. He doesn’t have a consistent shot, but he is useful to the Nuggets’ high octane offensive sets. Although Faried isn’t a consistent part of the Nuggets rotation now, he is still a key contributor to the Nuggets, but nothing is signaling towards his rise to stardom anytime soon. Faried is good, but Thomas is great. Nonetheless, the Nuggets got a good selection.
1. Reggie Jackson
What can you say about Reggie Jackson? He has worked his way up to being one of the NBA’s talented point guards. Selected with the 24th pick in the draft, Jackson transformed from a role player on the Thunder into a starting point guards for the Pistons. He is still getting better, and the Pistons have won more games with him on the court this season. Time will tell if Jackson ever surpasses Thomas, but right now the answer is definitely clear. Thomas is the better point guard, and it starts with how he impacts his team night in and night out.
All in all, Isaiah Thomas is a brilliant point guard. There is still time for these players to surpass the star point guard, but as of right now, it won’t happen anytime soon.