By Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes)
The 5-8 former Washington Huskies guard, Isaiah Thomas, is used to uphill battles. His size was questioned at the Division One level and it was a topic of discussion when he declared for the 2011 NBA draft. No one questioned if the kid could play, the question was if hed be too much of a liability on the defensive end.
On draft night, Thomas was this years Mr. Irrelevant when the Sacramento Kings selected him with the last pick in the NBA draft.
Thomas never pictured the draft going that way. He figured that if he did start to slip, a regional team would have scooped the Tacoma native up at No. 51.
It never happened.
I would have love to been a Portland Trail Blazer, Thomas told CSNNW.com. I definitely thought the Blazers were going to pick me up late in the second round, but things happen for a reason.
The Blazers used their 51st pick to select the 6-6 shooting guard Jon Diebler out of Ohio State, who has since signed a one-year deal with Panioinios B.C. in Greece.
Already loaded at the point guard position, it was very unlikely the Blazers would have drafted another point guard after selecting Duke standout Nolan Smith in the first round.
They passed on me twice. That hurt, but it all worked out for the best, Thomas said. I had a good workout when I came to Portland prior, but I guess they had other plans.
During the draft, the Blazers were involved in a three-team trade that shipped Andre Miller to the Denver Nuggets, Rudy Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks, and the Blazers landed Raymond Felton and the Mavs 57th pick.
The Blazers used that 57th pick to select Tanguy Ngombo from Qatar and traded him five days later to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a future second round pick. The 57th pick was what Thomas meant by being passed up twice.
Nevertheless, Thomas says hes moved on from the draft and cant wait to get started in Sacramento where hell have another uphill battle competing for a spot in the rotation.
The owners of the Kings -- the Maloof brothers -- granted the city of Sacramento a one-year reprieve to prove to them that a new arena would be built and financed in a timely fashion. With attendance plummeting in recent years, the Kings drafted Jimmer Fredette with the 10th pick and hes expected to get every opportunity to show what he can do. Fredettes huge popularity and fan base is exactly what the city of Sacramento needs at this time if they hope to keep their only professional team in town.
Thomas is ready for the challenge.
Its going to be competitive going against Jimmer in practice, Thomas said. Im ready. Ive been ready for a while now. I cant wait to show everybody what I can do.
Going against all odds is a slogan Thomas knows too well. Hes grown accustomed to it. He says people who overlook him are the ones who keep him motivated and it reminds him to never lose his edge.
Only time will tell if the Blazers made the right decision. However, Thomas has made it a lifestyle of proving people wrong and he does not plan on stopping anytime soon.