by: Griffin Bennett
While I am equally guilty of being caught up in the Jeremy Lin story, our very own Isaiah Thomas is having his own Cinderella season down in Sacramento.
Thomas went from Mr. Husky to Mr. Irrelevant after being taken 60th overall in this year’s NBA Draft and was an afterthought when it came to 2012 impact rookies. I won’t bother Husky fans with the details of his back story as I’m sure you’re all familiar.
It’s been a wild journey so far for I.T. He made the team out of camp, which wasn’t a guarantee, and passed fellow King rookie Jimmer Fredette on the depth chart earlier in the season. The Kings were desperate for a point guard as Tyreke Evans continued to struggle to run the offense and John Salmons is John Salmons. Thomas was given more time off of the bench and he took full advantage of it.
“During the whole process where we were seeing if he was going to be a candidate for this team, he was running out there playing so close to NBA-ready,” Kings’ head coach, Keith Smart said. “He never looked like a rookie. He’s shown that every single night when he’s been on the floor.”
While the Kings continued to rack up losses, Smart decided to make a change and thrust the 5-8 Husky point guard into the starting lineup 4 games ago against the Pistons. It may just be the “smartest” decision he’s made.
After only playing 23 minutes in his first start, he still racked up 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. It has been his latest 3 games that have really turned heads.
Playing against two #1 draft pick point guards in Kyrie Irving and John Wall as well the #1 NBA team in the Heat, Thomas has averaged 21.6 points, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers per game. While those may not be Jeremy Lin-esque, he is certainly turning heads and making the other 29 teams that passed on him (some twice and three times) regret their choice. According to ESPN and John Hollinger’s PER, Thomas is the 7th most efficient rookie this year. That’s above Klay Thompson, Derrick Williams, Kemba Walker, and Ricky Rubio.
I firmly believed in the fact that Isaiah Thomas would have a long and fruitful career as a role player, but I have to admit that I would never have guessed that he would be starting for the Kings before the All-Star break during his rookie season.
When asked about why he has been so successful this season, Thomas attributed the lessons that he learned while at Washington.
“I’m just out there playing. I’m not trying to score. I’m not trying to get my teammates involved. I’m being aggressive to make plays,” Thomas said. “One thing [Lorezno Romar] always told me was to make winning plays. Just go out there and try to make the right play.”
We all wish that I.T. would have returned for his swan song season this year at Montlake, but it makes me very happy to see our guy succeeding so young and so early in his NBA career. Husky fans, keep your eye on that other team wearing purple down in Norcal. Thomas’ blood is just as cold as it was before and it seems to be on the verge of freezing.