words // Brennan Hiro Williams
images // Nick DePaula
For most viewers of the NBA Draft, the first ten to fifteen picks are an exciting affair. Anything past that is typically reserved for diehards and people infatuated with Adam Silver, and by the time the final pick is announced, most people have gotten on with their lives.
This is probably why so many were surprised when "Mr. Irrelevant," the 60th and final pick in the 2011 Draft, ascended to the top of the rookie rankings midway through last season. It probably didn't help that he's also one of the shortest players in league history.
I'm talking about the Sacramento Kings starting point guard, Isaiah Thomas.
In recent years, recipients of the dubious "Mr. Irrelevant" honor included Dwayne Collins, Robert Dozier, Semih Erden and Milovan Rakovic. While surely those are all talented players who enjoyed fantastic pre-draft careers, it would be a stretch to say that any of them found much success at the NBA level.
Lil' Zeke, on the other hand, became the first "Mr. Irrelevant" to win a NBA Rookie of the Month award last February, and followed that up with another Rookie of the Month award for March. The former Washington Husky ended up starting 37 games for the Kings, averaging 11.5 points and 4.1 assists per game.
If you didn't see Isaiah play last season – and let's be honest, unless you loved paying for the NBA League Pass to watch bad Kings basketball, you probably didn't – you were missing out. His uptempo and exciting style of play quickly won over Kings fans, providing a rare bright spot for the once-proud franchise. He got to the rim, he scored from distance, he never backed down on defense and, most importantly for a point guard, he made his teammates better. Check him out on YouTube if you have to. He is seriously fun to watch.
Who will earn the "Mr. Irrelevant" title for 2012? The Lakers will be on the clock later tonight. Get ready, Adam Silver fans.
Take a closer look at the Isaiah Thomas Sacramento Kings adidas REV30 jersey in the images below.