Isaiah Thomas has been great. He's been fantastic. He's been wonderful. These are the facts of the case, and they are not in dispute. But the question now is how great has he been? How fantastic? How wonderful? In a bout of curiosity, I began to investigate. The results were surprising.
First, a few caveats. I'm going to be trotting out some stats. These are, primarily, offensive stats. We all know Isaiah's defense is not nearly as good as his offense. That needs to be considered, and I'm taking it into account. Please do not chime in with, "yeah but his defense" as your rebuttal.
Second, Isaiah is difficult to assess based on his age and experience. Thomas entered the league much older than most of his contemporaries. He has more basketball experience, but less NBA experience than players his own age. One could easily argue that this has either hurt or helped Isaiah. For the sake of this comparison, I'm looking strictly at comparisons when players were Isaiah's current age.
Third, because I'm looking at players at a specific age, there's obviously some room for outliers. Players may have been having an up year or a down year. And, of course, since I'm comparing Isaiah to historical data, we have a smaller sample size of games. Please understand that I understand all of these things. I'm presenting these numbers to you, and presenting these caveats to you, so that we may have a conversation about these numbers within their proper context. You may now jump ahead to the comments and tell me about how you watch the games.
I'm also going to apologize, but you'll have to scroll to see all the numbers unless you're on a particularly wide resolution.
Without further ado, some numbers.
I was stunned when I began looking at these numbers. Isaiah Thomas's numbers match up incredibly well with Tony Parker's. Parker is of particular interest to me because of his style of play, and because he was never known as a great defensive point guard. And while each of these players is better than Isaiah in some way, Isaiah places last in no major categories. Points, assists, total rebounds, steals, shooting percentages. Both per game, and per minute. Isaiah is last in the group in defensive rebounds per game, but not per minute.
The other notable thing, back to the age and experience discussion, is that every one of these players was far more established in the NBA by the time they were 24 years old. Each had multiple seasons under their belts. Most were regularly visiting the playoffs. Isaiah has just won back a starting role and a solid allotment of minutes.
And although Isaiah shows as averaging 6.0 assists per game, it's worth noting that he's averaged 7.6 assists per game since taking over the starting role. That average puts him behind just Chris Paul and Deron Williams among this sample group.
The question isn't whether or not Isaiah Thomas is a starting point guard. The question is how much longer before Isaiah earns a place in the discussion of star point guards. He's not there yet, these numbers are too small a sample. But Isaiah is going to have the opportunity to sustain these numbers. If he can, the recognition won't be far behind.
The only down side to all of this is that Isaiah is a restricted free agent this offseason. Crap. Actually, just forget I said anything.