Feb 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) drives to the basket during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Kings won 109-95. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t bet against Isaiah Thomas


Feb 22, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) moves to the basket past Boston Celtics point guard Jerryd Bayless (11) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Boston Celtics 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 22, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) moves to the basket past Boston Celtics point guard Jerryd Bayless (11) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Boston Celtics 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

It would be very appropriate in my opinion to start with this, because I just thought it was perfect. From Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and SBNation:

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 4.04.47 PM

 

So yes, Isaiah Thomas is a perplexing fellow to figure out for many, but not for me. The infatuation with his supposed shortcomings whether it be his height or his defensive issues and how he truly would be most beneficial in a 6th man role continues to thrive, despite this JUST being his 3rd season where he finally has “gotten the keys” as Aaron Bruski would say.

We really don’t need to go into some deeper analysis level on this anymore as its been done by many before but let’s just look at some real basic metrics now and where he currently ranks (courtesy of Basketball Reference)

Per Game:

Points: 20.5 (16th)

Assists: 6.4 (12th)

Two more fun facts for context:

1- There are only 3 players in the league with a higher ranking than Thomas in BOTH assists and points. Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry and LeBron James.

2- Along with the other 11 players in front of Isaiah Thomas for assists per game, the Pizza Guy has THE worst assist percentage (32.6%)

So yeah, I don’t buy the idea that he can’t be a facilitator. Ben McLemore and Marcus Thornton have been just awful coming off screens on catch and shoot opportunities this season (33% and 31%) per Player Tracking data at NBA.com/Stats. Ben’s numbers should improve as he works through his struggles and as a result, I expect Isaiah’s assists to rise because duh. Whether it’s Ben or someone else, the Kings will eventually figure out that 2 spot  (they’ve already got 3 quality starters) and Isaiah’s points will likely go down and assists will go up. Just for reference, the Kings  overall are 18th and 25th in FG% and 3 point FG% respectively. So there’s that.

Finally, the idea that Isaiah is a lousy defender has distorted the overwhelming positive evidence that he’s not only a starting point guard in the NBA, but probably a top-10 point guard in the NBA already in his 3rd season. You also can’t use the “he’s scoring points for a bad team” argument without getting absolutely crushed by the list of players regarded higher than him yet playing with their own lousy squads.

Once again I ask, of current NBA players, are there options out there available for trade or free agency that present a better combination of youth/potential and current production level. The mere fact that a team, as horrible and going through as much transition as the Kings have, has a player in the top 20 in scoring and assists is just one of the many positives going forward into the offseason.

Oh yeah and he has the largest chip on a shoulder in NBA history.

Tags: Ben McLemore Free Agency Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton NBA Restricted Free Agency Sacramento Kings

  • David Echard

    I think IT is a great 6th man. But, I look at the 7 game losing streak that occurred between Jan 22 and Feb 1st.
    IT was without the services of either Cuz or Gay during this time. That would have been a good time for IT to work on his court awareness, becoming a more effective distributor, and getting other players involved.
    Sorry, I did not see it.
    The other thing you don’t bring up is his lack of height. Last night, he was burned by Rubio on a 3, no less.(that decided the game)
    IT cannot guard taller guards. The night before in Los Angeles, Farmer was taking him to school.
    More so, because Farmer in once again, much taller.
    . I think IT’s work ethic and desire to be great are outstanding. But, there is no getting around being 5’9, no matter how good you think you.
    While IT’s numbers are great, In the grand scheme of things they mean nothing. The Kings are the worst team in the West. I would rather have someone who is a court general, running the floor, and knows spacing.
    That point guard may not put up the numbers of IT, but maybe this team will be more effective and start winning games.
    There are not many FA options, as only Bledsoe(RFA), Stephenson, and Lowry are available. In regards to trade, who knows what teams are going to be active in the summer. In regards to the draft, Exum and Smart look like viable options, as well. Sometimes, Stats are for losers.

    • Ray Gunn

      How can you become a better facilitator without people who can score on a consistant basis… the mere fact that he has 6.5 a ga.e is amazing with Gay n Cousins… Zeke has been the Most consistant king this season

      • AlanCollinge

        Considering that the Kings are THE ONLY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE WITH THREE PLAYERS AVERAGING MORE THAN 20 POINTS PER GAME, and given that Isaiah is the floor general without doubt, I would say that the evidence suggests that he is facilitating better than most, if not all other point guards. The only weakness I see with Isaiah is his shooting, which will hopefully be dialed in in the next year or so. He may not be able to block many shots,but his hustle is good for at least a couple boards, and maybe a steal or so more per game than a typical player. That to me is defense.

        I think some people will be doubting Thomas until he gets his first ring,and probably even beyond, but eventually the criticism will be more telling about the haters than anything. Whatever. Better that than what the LeBron’s and the Kobe’s have to live up to, I suppose. Keep smiling Isaiah!