Feb 7, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Kings 86-84. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Isaiah Thomas started his fifth straight game for the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, and the team earned its second straight win, 103-96 over the visiting Jazz. Thomas had another strong game with 18 points on 6-12 shooting, eight assists and five turnovers. As a starter, he is now averaging 19.2 points on .589 effective field goal percentage (!) with 6.8 assists and just under three turnovers per game. That's just fine.
The Kings are 2-3 in those games, but the difference on offense has been lovely. According to HoopData.com, the Kings had games with an offensive efficiency of 105 or better in five of the first 29 games of the season, before Isaiah became a starter. In Isaiah's five games as a starter, the Kings have hit that mark on offense four times, including against the stellar Heat.
The interesting thing is that the conventional wisdom as to why the offense is better isn't quite right: Isaiah isn't any more a 'pure' point guard than Tyreke Evans had been, and the Kings aren't seeing a spike in assisted baskets. The seasonal trend toward more assisted baskets began back around mid- to late-January as Keith Smart implemented his system; it's been fairly stable since Isaiah ascended. It appears the difference has been tied more to transition, though that's hard to assess with a small sample size.
Whatever it is, it's working on offense. I'll take that crow medium rare, please.