What Is the Ceiling for Sacramento Kings PG Isaiah Thomas?
Isaiah Thomas took Jimmer Fredette's spot and refused to give it back. It's a common enough story. An otherwise great prospect is downgraded due to his short stature. Quickly, he proves that his height is less of a factor than scouts had feared. Though Thomas was the last player taken in the 2011 NBA Draft, he was incredible when going against No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving.
Human beings tend to have a height bias; taller people get paid more money. But this dynamic is further complicated in basketball because height actually does matter. So, perhaps there's an over adjustment, and guys such as Ty Lawson and Thomas fall through the cracks.
Speaking of Lawson, he's my current comparison for Thomas. Their per 36 minutes rookie numbers are quite comparable. Lawson was more of an efficient shooter at 51.5 percent, but his totals were 14.8 points, 5.5 assists and 3.4 boards—fine, but not staggering numbers. Thomas shot 44.8 percent, but totaled 16.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 boards per 36 minutes.
Both should look to have bright futures. As Lawson steps into more of a starring role in Denver, an All-Star game could be around the corner. Thomas has a tougher road ahead, as his team is quite bad and looks to be mediocre for some time.
Also, aiming for "Ty Lawson" isn't exactly a lofty expectation for Thomas, no offense to Lawson's efficient game. If we are asking what the Isaiah Thomas ceiling is, it is necessary to go higher. I would peg Thomas as something of a prototype in a league without hand-checking. There aren't many players to compare him to from the past, because the past wasn't as friendly to point guards.
For now, he reminds me a bit of Kevin Johnson with his quickness and scoring knack. KJ was a bit bigger and more of a passer, but I could see Thomas becoming a better distributor in the coming years.
His game already is quite impressive. Thomas is quick with a handle that sticks, even when he's moving laterally. To compensate for his lack of height, he lofts arcing floaters and throws his body into taller defenders. At the rim, Thomas finished 63 percent of his tries (via Hoopdata). Not bad for a little guy.
The Sacramento Kings are something of a laughing stock. They could move, fire their coach and negate that move all in the same day. It wouldn't surprise me. Despite the chaos, despite the ineptitude, they made an incredible selection in Isaiah Thomas. Few players have more of a gap between height and ceiling.
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