Ranking Isaiah Thomas' 5 Most Dangerous Offensive Moves
Thomas has had plenty of doubters since the Kings took him with the last pick in the 2011 draft, but the 24-year-old has proven to be a tireless ball of energy, averaging 13.9 points and 4.0 assists in just 26.9 minutes per game.
The Kings’ recent trade for Greivis Vásquez will likely push I.T. to the bench, but as another Kings point guard by the name of Bobby Jackson might say, there’s nothing wrong with being the sixth man.
Thomas’ moves are ranked by effectiveness and degree of difficulty, not taking into account how often he actually shakes defenders.
Honorable Mention: Dance Moves
When the NBA was locked out in the 2011-12 season, former Kings forward Donté Greene hosted a charity game called the “Goon Squad Classic.” To substitute for in-season rookie hazing, the veterans made Thomas and Jimmer Fredette participate in a halftime dance-off.
Jimmer ran away with the competition, partially because the jerk was still popular, and partially because Thomas quit halfway through his dougie.
After the Kings’ Facebook page reached 200,000 likes in April 2012, Thomas showed off his new dance during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ player introductions.
I don’t know what to call this. The smooth robot? The “mom stretching before a run?” Whatever the dance is, it’s a whole lot better than his dougie.
Honorable Mention: Dunking
I can't justify including Thomas' dunking as a top-five move, because nearly every other NBA player can do the same, and he's never done it in a pro game. Still, he deserves some props for channeling his inner Spud Webb.
Thomas also won UW's Midnight Madness dunk contest, first tossing an alley-oop to himself and doing a reserve jam (2:13 in the video above), then leaping over 6'9" teammate Matthew Bryan-Amaning for a lefty throwdown (4:20).
5. Crossover and Behind-the-Back Dribble
A simple crossover shifts defenders like the San Antonio Spurs’ Gary Neal over to the right, opening up a hole on the left.
By dropping the ball behind his back, Thomas then makes sure Neal doesn’t poke it free and gets possession with his dominant hand.
With the ball in his left hand and the defender on his right, Thomas has more than enough daylight to drive to the rack for two. He can drive to his weak side as well and can even beat studs like Kyrie Irving.
4. Step-Back Jump Shot
Streaky shooting has plagued Thomas throughout his career. But when the Hustling Husky is on, his range allows him to use a little crossover-step-back combo.
The basketball world first got a taste of Thomas' step-back in the 2010-11 Pac-10 title game against Arizona, when he swished a "cold-blooded" game-winner over Lamont Jones, an All-American honorable mention.
Thomas has carved up defenses with his surgeon's touch since joining the Kings, even draining threes over the two-time defending champs.
3. Up-and-Under Reverse Layup
Being a little smaller doesn't hurt Thomas on the up-and-under. In fact, larger players trying to block his shot have to avoid the rim, while Thomas' head barely grazes the net.
Look how cool he plays it off. Just a little running shoulder bump with Marcus Thornton to celebrate. As Kings play-by-play man Grant Napear said, "That looked like the Isiah Thomas from 25 years ago!"
2. Running Floater
Power forwards and centers would swat Thomas’ layups into the rafters if he didn’t make adjustments.
If defenders stay back, Thomas lofts an unblockable floater through the lane. The teardrop’s downward arc lets him shoot long, because anything off the backboard will drop through the net.
1. Hesitation Dribble
It's a simple move, really. Start, stop, start again. Yet Thomas' hesitation dribble leaves defenders frozen like the T-1000 in Terminator 2.
Thomas often breaks out the hesitation after a big man comes to play help D, though he can slip by guards as well. Slowing down tricks bigs into setting their feet, then Thomas blows by them in the blink of an eye.
The move is most effective when Thomas looks away for a split second. In the video above, Al Jefferson took his eyes off the ball, thinking that Thomas was looking for a passing lane, and had no chance to catch him on the drive.