Maybe because 5-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas was the last pick (N0. 60) in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Kings just couldn’t see past his height and a lack of hype after coming out of the University of Washington. Like fellow Pacific Northwest guard, Nate Robinson, Thomas kept surprising prognosticators who didn’t think he had the size to survive at the pro level. Now, after a three-year, $27 million sign-and-trade sent him to Phoenix, Thomas comes clean and says he “felt very disrespected” by the Sacramento franchise who never gave him the chance many — including us — felt he earned with his play.
Zeke was an unrestricted free agent this summer, and we knew the Kings weren’t serious about matching a serious offer like the four-year $27 million offer sheet Phoenix extended him — the Celtics also expressed interest — when they signed Darren Collison to a three-year $15 million deal earlier in the summer.
The 25-year-old signed the offer sheet and the Kings eventually settled on the sign-and-trade that will make Thomas a Sun heading into the 2014-15 season. Thomas finally came clean about his tenure in Sacramento when speaking with the Arizona Republic‘s Bob Young:
Yet, the Kings seemed to look for someone to replace Thomas at every opportunity.
“They were,” he said matter-of-factly. “I felt very disrespected. Every year it was somebody new. I felt I did a good enough job to show them I was a starting point guard or a guy who could play a big role with their team. But they thought differently.
“They’re going to go forward without me, and I’m going to go forward with the Phoenix Suns, and I know something special is coming here.”
We’ve discussed this in the past when speaking with Thomas, who was always very cordial about the people in Sac-town despite their unwillingness to really turn the reins over to him as a long-term fixture at the point.
Thomas has progressed as a player in each of his three seasons in Sacramento, culminating in a 2013-14 campaign that saw him average a career high 20.3 points and 6.2 assists in 34.7 minutes while starting 54 games.
In his previous two campaigns he had to beat out, the much-hyped Jimmer Fredette, 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, Greivis Vasquez, Aaron Brooks, Toney Douglas and last season’s rookie, Ray McCallum.
Zeke’s shooting splits last season, .453/.349/.850 and his player efficiency rating (20.5) all come in above the average starting point guard. Just look at this list of guards and forwards with the minimum minutes per game last season with a PER over 15.
You might think the 5-9 Thomas struggled on the defensive end, but he recorded 1.3 defensive win shares over the year, up from a negative rating in 2012-13 and a 0.0 in his rookie year. That’s right in line with some of the best guards in the NBA.
We could go hoarse arguing the merits of Isaiah Thomas as a starting point guard for a winning team in the NBA, but the Phoenix Suns took a $27 million flyer on him, so at least some teams understand what he can do when given the opportunity. Then again, with Goran Dragic, RFA Eric Bledsoe, rookie Tyler Ennis, combo guard Archie Goodwin and now Zeke, the Suns have plenty of guards to run coach Jeff Hornacek‘s blitzing offense. Don’t be surprised if — out of all those names — Thomas is the creme that rises to the surface yet again in 2014-15.
(Thanks to Eye on Basketball for bringing this to our attention)
Is Isaiah Thomas a starting point guard in the NBA?
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