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Isaiah Thomas.

The guards drafted before Isaiah Thomas - where are they now

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The Boston Celtics are fighting their way through the Eastern Conference playoffs in no small part because of Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas was once considered Mr. Irrelevant, drafted with the final selection of the 2011 NBA Draft. Since then his career has steadily taken off, with Isaiah seemingly arriving this season after the Celtics locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Team after team passed on adding the undersized point with an oversized will to become great, and the list of guards taken ahead of him shows some serious misses from several NBA teams. 

With that said, let's talk about the guards taken ahead of Thomas, and where they are now. What better time than after Isaiah's dominant series-opening 33-point performance against the Washington Wizards?

1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

In a field of misses the Cavaliers definitely nailed this one. There's no denying that Kyrie is worth the No. 1 pick in any draft. That he clinched the Cavaliers' first championship last year in Game 7 with a huge three-pointer solidifies his claim to the No. 1 pick throne. 

He's ultra-talented and is still only 25 years old. 

Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One

8. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons

Knight wasn't a total miss but he was also far from a success in Detroit. He became a bit of a journeyman after Detroit gave up on him, playing for the Milwaukee Bucks before making his way to the Phoenix Suns. 

Brandon was a stud in Kentucky but he started in just five games for Phoenix, better-served as an off-the-bench scoring guard than anything else. 

9. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

Kemba is a joy to watch play basketball and is coming off a career year. The Hornets have struggled to build around him, but he's the real deal offensively. Walker is the embodiment of why natural talent can make up for the lack of the ideal physical profile. 

Don't sleep on Kemba, he'll nail jumper after jumper on you otherwise as the Hornets' franchise player.

10. Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings via Bucks

Jimmer Mania never made it to the NBA after he lit the college hoops world on fire. He's now playing for Yao Ming's Chinese Basketball Association team, where he's carved a solid niche for himself. He was a gifted scorer, which alone isn't enough to cut it at the top level.

11. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Several teams missed on Isaiah, but at least nine teams missed out on drafting their very own Splash Brother. He's a key reason why the Warriors were able to become NBA royalty, and he's certainly left those teams that missed on him feeling regretful on numerous occasions.

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors

12. Alec Burks, Utah Jazz

The Jazz drafted Burks as a project player with upside and he's made little headway to prove them right. While Utah has thrived in the last few seasons, it's little-to-do with Burks. Injuries have sidetracked him, and that upside is looking further away than ever.  

17. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks

There was a time when the Knicks needed Shumpert to give them some sort of young wing presence, but New York used him to sweeten the pot for Cleveland when they traded JR Smith. It never hurts to be traded to the eventual champions.

21. Nolan Smith, Portland Trail Blazers

This is a case of a system player failing to be more than that. Smith was a highly-regarded Duke Blue Devil, but he was out of the NBA in just two seasons and 84 total games. A definite swing and miss by Portland.

One word: Bust. 

24. Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder

Jackson was groomed to be the Thunder's replacement for James Harden, and for a time it seemed to be heading that way. Jackson's disinterest in being a sixth man led Oklahoma City to move on, and now he's trying to lead the Detroit Pistons out of the dark. 

San Antonio Spurs v Detroit Pistons

28. Norris Cole, Miami Heat via Chicago Bulls

Cole had a frontrow seat to the Big Three era in Miami, riding along with LeBron James and company to the tune of two NBA championships. He's struggled to find a niche for himself since, though, and was a late-season addition by the Thunder this year. 

29. Cory Joseph, San Antonio Spurs

Joseph looked like an X-factor in the playoffs for the Spurs years ago but San Antonio decided to zig while Cory zagged. The Candian-born hooper is now home in Canada representing the Toronto Raptors, and is the captain of Canada's international team. 

From here, there are only a few more guards that went ahead of Thomas, and surely these teams have kicked themselves for drafting these players instead of landing Isaiah when they had the chance.

That's especially true for the Lakers who passed twice in the second round to draft guards that are out of the NBA.

34. Shelvin Mack, Washington Wizards

41. Darius Morris, Los Angeles Lakers 

46. Andrew Goudelock, Lakers

49. Josh Shelby, Memphis Grizzlies

55. E'Twaun Moore, Boston Celtics

And there you have it, a list of guards that, aside from Kyrie and Klay, should have been drafted after Thomas. Isaiah is the poster child for hard work overcoming any challenge. 

Topics:
Golden State Warriors
Pacific Division
Western Conference
NBA
Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Isaiah Thomas
LA Lakers

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