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:
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)
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.