The story of Kings guard Isaiah Thomas going from the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft to productive starting point guard makes the rounds more as he continues to play well.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is an admirer of what Thomas has accomplished.
“I think it’s really cool,” Popovich said. “I’m excited for him. I love when that kind of stuff happens. It shows (the draft is) subjective, thank heavens. If there was a formula it would be the most boring thing for everybody.”
The Spurs have found key players late in the first and second rounds of the draft, and seeing late-pick success stories is something Popovich enjoys.
Popovich said teams do their best to find players in the draft who fit, but there is no way to predict who will succeed after the draft simply based on where they are selected.
“Having busts in the top 10 and having guys like Isaiah come through on the other end makes it great,” Popovich said.
So why did the Spurs pass on Thomas twice in that draft?
“Ask (general manager) R.C. (Buford),” Popovich said. “My guess is we already had Tony Parker here so I don’t think we had a need at the point.”
Malone also said Popovich is a reason he is an NBA head coach.
“My respect is personal first, because I wouldn’t be where I’m at without Pop and his influence on me,” Malone said. “Helping me get a job in Cleveland and New Orleans, he’s had a huge impact on my life and career.”
Malone said the Spurs are “the standard” in the NBA because of their consistency and ability to plug in new players.
“Obviously, Pop is the best coach in the NBA and he gets them to execute,” Malone said.
He also has made at least three shots from 3-point range in four of his last five games.
Mitch Richmond holds the team record at 39 consecutive games with a 3-pointer. Peja Stojakovic is second with two streaks of 36 games, and third with a 35-game streak.
Thomas made five 3s in the Kings’ 112-104 loss to the Spurs on Sunday at AT&T Center.