Soon there will be another diminutive (by NBA standards) point guard in the NBA that hails from the University of Washington and this one, Isaiah Thomas, has the potential to be a more pure point guard than Nate Robinson, by which I mean that he will be able to do a better job of setting up his teammates for baskets while avoiding turnovers.
Both Robinson and Thomas had very similar career paths in college in terms of both their shooting and distribution of the ball. During each of their three seasons at the University of Washington, they saw their shooting percentages increase while the percentage of the shots they took for their teams decrease.
Robinson's true shooting percentage and percentage of shots taken for his teams went from 52.3 percent and 30.0 percent as a freshman to 55.9 percent and 24.1 percent as a sophomore to 58.7 percent and 22.9 percent as a junior.
Thomas' true shooting percentage and percentage of shots taken for his teams went from 51.1 percent and 28.9 percent as a freshman to 54.0 percent and 26.9 percent as a sophomore to 55.6 percent and 23.6 percent as a junior.
Robinson was a better shooter in college than Thomas and would probably be better off playing more shooting guard in the NBA, but his lack of height pretty much forces NBA teams into playing him at point guard and it is there where Thomas has more potential than Robinson did before he entered the NBA.
Although neither was really asked to be play point guard exclusively in their first two collegiate seasons, as juniors, each was asked to assume more point guard duties. Robinson split distribution duties with teammate Will Conroy as head coach Lorenzo Romar also realized that Robinson was at his best when he was not the team's primary point guard and could better help the team in more of a combo guard role.
Still, Robinson had his best year as a distributor. He averaged 4.5 assists per game and assisted on 23.6 percent of his teammate's shots while on the floor. His 12.7 turnover percentage was also the lowest of his career in college.
Thomas had no teammate with which to share point guard duties in his junior season and it showed as he handled his role as the team's primary point guard extremely well. In that season, Thomas averaged 6.3 assists per game and assisted on 33.5 percent of his team's made field goals while he was on the floor. He also managed to keep his turnovers down to a respectable level with a 16.8 turnover percentage.
If Thomas does elect to remain in the NBA draft, he will have an advantage that Robinson never experienced. Due to the fact he has already had the experience of running an offense full-time and has shown the ability to do it proficiently, he will enter the NBA more ready to take over a team's offense, which will make his transition a lot easier and set him up to be a more successful point guard.
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