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NBA Mock Draft: Isaiah Thomas In The First Round, But Just Barely

Call it the Isaiah Thomas conundrum. Where the pint-sized guard from Washington will go in the 2011 NBA Draft is anyone's guess, and projections have fluctuated wildly in the weeks leading up to the draft. At one point, Thomas found himself securely in the first round, but lately he's been bouncing between the end of the first and somewhere in the early second.

In SB Nation's latest 2011 NBA mock draft, Thomas is back in the first round, but is far from safe. Tom Ziller has Thomas coming off the board when the Chicago Bulls pick at No. 30, the last selection in the first round.

30. Chicago Bulls: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington
Thomas might be better than C.J. Watson from Day 1.

Ziller's assertion that Thomas may be better than C.J. Watson from the start bodes well for his future playing time, if the projections do pan-out. Thomas may be a bit underrated ahead of the draft, with his height still serving as a deterrent. But if his time at Washington is any indication, Thomas has the ability to evolve and adapt while continuing to improve along the way.

Why is the first round so important for Thomas and what difference is there between picks No. 30 and 31? A first round pick is guaranteed a contract under the current collective bargaining agreement. In simple terms, if Thomas is taken in the first round, he will receive a two-year contract with team options for two other years. Second round picks, on the other hand, are not guaranteed contracts. If Thomas is taken in the first round, his chances of succeeding are much greater.

For more on where Thomas may be picked, check out the rest of our 2011 NBA mock draft StoryStream. Check out UW Dawg Pound for all you Washington sports needs, as well.