The 60th pick from the 2011 NBA draft has proven himself to be a player that should have been on more teams radars than what he was. Isaiah Thomas has defined all odds and has proven he deserves to be in this league since touching the hardwood floors of the NBA. This past season (2013-2014 season) Isaiah Thomas had his best year, setting career highs in nearly every statistical category. Each year Isaiah has progressed and this year was no different, after averaging just under 14 points a game during the 2012-2013 season, Isaiah Thomas bumped his average to 20.3 points per game this past season.
Here are the stats of Isaiah’s first three years in the league; look how each year his numbers continue to grow:
2011-2012 11.5 PPG 2.6 REB 4.1 AST
2012-2013 13.9 PPG 2.0 REB 4.0 AST
2013-2014 20.3 PPG 2.9 REB 6.3 AST
Since his rookie season Isaiah Thomas was never looked at as a starting point guard in this league; even during this first season with new head coach Michael Malone, Isaiah was not looked at as the starting point guard for the Sacramento Kings. New general manager Pete D’Allessandro did a sign and trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans that sent Tyreke Evans to New Orleans, and in return Sacramento got their new starting point guard- Grievis Vasquez. However as the season progressed, Thomas over took the starting job from the newly acquired Greivis Vasquez with his ability to lead the Kings and his scoring ability that would keep opposing defenses on their toes.
These are just the beginning reasons to why the Kings should keep the 5’9 point guard Isaiah Thomas. This part two piece — of a three-part series reflecting on the Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas dilemma — will be giving you the pros and cons to why the Sacramento Kings should keep Isaiah Thomas over Rudy Gay. Keep in mind that the first two parts of this three-part series are all based on the scenario that the Sacramento Kings will have to choose between the two players during this coming offseason.
Longevity – Isaiah Thomas is now a restricted free agent, meaning that he is able to shop and see what he is worth on the open market but the Kings can decide whether-or-not they want to match any offer given. This can be such a benefit for the Sacramento Kings because not only can Isaiah see what he is worth, but the Kings can see how much he is worth as well-which could possibly be at a cheaper price.
Isaiah has definitely played his way into some money with how great of a season he’s had, and with his low salary for his first three years, you have to assume he wants a good payday. This payday, however, will be coming with multiple years on a contract unlike Rudy Gay who has the option to opt in or out of his contract. If he decides to opt in the Kings will be paying him $19 million for one more year putting the Kings back in the same place they are now with him next offseason. With Isaiah Thomas the Sacramento Kings can lock up their starting point guard for multiple years and at a more reasonable price.
Leadership- The Sacramento Kings have one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and with youth you always need someone to lead. Although Sacramento has put their franchise on the back of DeMarcus Cousins he has not shown the ability to lead a team. On the other hand Isaiah has made his voice known since joining the King in 2011. On the court and off the court Isaiah Thomas looks to be one of the most supportive and vocal players on the Kings roster. As a starter this season Thomas seemed to have the attention of everyone on the team and had a connection with prized big man DeMarcus Cousins. This was especially true when Cousins made a mistake because Thomas was right there letting him know.
Rudy Gay also showed leadership on this team and fans could see that he was always ready to get DeMarcus out of a bad situation. The difference between Rudy and Isaiah is that Isaiah is more vocal. Coach Malone did an interview on Carmichael Dave’s radio show stating that Rudy was a great leader, especially with the younger guys. That’s something that we the fans don’t really get to see because of the quiet demeanor he presents.
Isaiah Thomas is the exact opposite. He will be vocal –during each interview, game, and the videos you see of practice — and will push others to get better. Each one of their styles are different and I am not saying that one style is better than the other, but with such a young roster I believe it is best to have a vocal presence in the locker room.
Scoring- It’s no surprise that Isaiah Thomas’ scoring ability is a pro, and Sacramento needs a scoring threat like him on their team if they want to continue to get better as a unit. Thomas’ ability to breakdown defenders with his dribble, draw fouls, finish shots in the paint, as well as hit open and contested three point shots are what helped keep Sacramento in a ton of games this season. Thomas has a score-first mindset –which can be a pro and a con — but the fact is, if Isaiah was not on the team this season, who would be that other scoring threat for the Kings? Isaiah Thomas is one of those players who would automatically help give relief to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay when they are having off nights. He is one of the best scoring guards in the NBA today, and the Kings should not let him go for nothing.
Is Isaiah the future?- This new regime is looking for change and is looking for the franchise to return to their glory days. Isaiah has been on the roster for three years now and has been a starter for nearly two seasons, yet during all three seasons the Kings have not found a way to start bring in wins. Now, all the blame should not be put on Isaiah Thomas, but with so much talent at his position and this franchise in the era of change, perhaps they could find someone better? The Kings have shown a ton of interest and potential in Ray McCallum, the man who proved this season he can produce as a starter and also play big minutes. With the draft coming up it will be interesting to see who the Kings look to draft. Could it be another point guard like Marcus Smart to take over the starting role?
Ball Movement- The Kings ball movement as a whole was lackluster to say the least, which led to the team being ranked last in assists per game. Now, is that all on the hands of Isaiah Thomas? Of course not, but he is your starting point guard on a team that does have plenty of scoring threats on the roster. On one of the ‘pros’ I wrote how Isaiah’s scoring is a need for Sacramento to give relief to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay when they are having off nights. Although that is true, could the team have benefited more from maybe a point guard who looked to pass and got more players — like Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson, etc.– and made them more apart of the offense? With Sacramento still in that rebuilding phase maybe a point guard with a different type of mindset for each game can help elevate them to the next level.
There will always be those who look at Isaiah Thomas and say he is not a starting point guard for an NBA team, but statistically he will continue to prove those people wrong and will always look to get better. You know that Thomas’s height will always be a factor against him especially on the defensive end, but the skill of Isaiah Thomas is not to be taken lightly. He can score with the best of them, and defensively, although he is small in height, Thomas has the strength to push someone back. Every game you watch him play you can see he plays with his heart on his sleeve and will give you 110 percent every night. Letting a player like Thomas walk away from your franchise is something Sacramento should not do. His leadership, competitiveness, and charisma are what make Thomas not just a great player to watch, but a great player to have on your team.