June 24th 2004: The New York Knicks draft Trevor Ariza with the 43rd pick in the 2004 NBA Draft
Isiah Thomas’ first draft pick as a Knicks executive turned out to be a gem in the big picture. The Knicks drafted Ariza in the 2nd round with the 43rd overall pick. Ariza was a freshman out of UCLA who was the 3rd youngest player in the draft ahead of Dwight Howard & Shaun Livingston. It was now assistant GM (and UCLA alum) Gerald Madkins that advised Isiah to draft Ariza in the 2nd round.
Ariza, while entering the league very raw and skinny, played 80 games and started 12 of them. He showcased a combination of athletic potential and defensive upside as a rookie. He often electrified the MSG crowd with his vicious dunks.
Unfortunately, Larry Brown got in the way of Ariza’s future in NY. After calling Ariza “delusional” after the latter questioned why he wasn’t in the team rotation. Eventually, Brown sought more more veterans and Isiah dealt him at the trade deadline for a near washed Steve Francis.
While Francis’ NBA career ended in 2008, Ariza went on to win an NBA championship with the Lakers in 2009 and became a solid role player in the NBA for various organizations including the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, & Washington Wizards. This is the prime example Knicks fans use to why the team should exercise patience with young players.
Knicks Film School Historian, amongst other things