via a.espncdn.comBefore the draft and free agency period commences I wanted to share my thoughts about the Kings current roster. Without question the Kings have lacked a complete small forward since Ron Artest. There should also be little debate that there are only a few players on the Kings that other teams would actively trade for and this team can improve at every position. Hopefully the new GM will find an impact player in the draft and sign a few legitimate starters via free agency. Let us presume the small forward position will be addressed before training camp leaving us to contemplate the remaining starting five on the team and for this post--the point guard position.
For the last few seasons the guards on our team have been shuffled around between the one and the two, from bench to starter and back to the bench, sometimes logging starter minutes and other times being remanded to the end of the bench with little justification or reason. With that said, I am drawing a line in the sand and saying our starting point guard this next season unless trumped by a surprise in the draft or free agency will be Isaiah Thomas.
I believe Isaiah surprised all of us with the impact he made his rookie season proving he was Na60P including 2 rookie of the month awards and 2nd all rookie team honors.Presently a fringe starter in the league, Isaiah brings leadership, a voice, a great work ethic and attitude as evidenced by his efforts to pull the group together during the offseason to practice and work out. Defensively Isaiah is quick, has great footwork and lateral movement and can stay in front of all but a few of the fastest point guards. He is able to recover if someone gets a step on him and shows good discretion on when to press or drop back. I would like him to develop his instincts on being more disruptive in the passing lanes which should translate to more steals and to be more aggressive looking for rebounds. While too short and slight to fully guard a handful of the bigger PGs, with more practice defending the pick n roll and avoiding being sealed down low, Isaiah has enough to put himself in the middle of the pack defensively. He is a tenacious, pesky defender, who likely would be more aggressive and take more chances to pry the ball away if the team defense was solid behind him. Unfortunately that didn't exist outside of Tyreke on the perimeter. Offensively Isaiah is already a legitimate starter in the league. He does more right than he does wrong and should continue to develop especially with better coaching in an offense that is tailored to the players on the floor, is paired with the right personnel and being asked to facilitate the offense first and score second. He has the quickness, vision, passing and shooting to be effective for years to come. Although he needs a willing partner to better execute pick n rolls and pick n pops, if this should this happen and in tandem with a small forward that moves well off ball and can cut to the lane, I expect he will add a couple assists a game. After the pick and pass where he rolls off, he should be able to take advantage of the set mid-range shot or fake, dribble step and pop like Beno seemed to be a master of. Still not convinced? When the Kings went 7 - 8 last March, their best month all season its probably no coincidence that Isaiah led the way with 18.6 ppg on 49.7% including 45.9% from three while dishing 5.3 assists on only 2.0 turnovers. Yes his numbers were better than DMC, Tyreke, and Thornton with comparable minutes. Take a look at the stats from Sport Illustrated's Top Ten PGs List from April. Keep in mind we could make the case for a few other PGs like Nash or Vasquez and that these stats are per game and not per 36 minutes. 10. Ty Lawson, Nuggets Stats: 16.5 PPG, 7.1 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 2.7 TO, 44.7 FG%, 35.4 3P%, 17.2 PER, 35.2 MPG 9. Jrue Holiday, Sixers Stats: 19.1 PPG, 8.6 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 3.9 TO, 45.6 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 18.2 PER, 38.4 MPG 8. Deron Williams, Nets Stats: 17.4 PPG, 7.6 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 3.0 TO, 41.8 FG%, 36.6 3P%, 18.2 PER, 36.8 MPG 7. Stephen Curry, Warriors Stats: 22.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 3.0 TO, 44.3 FG%, 45.5 3P%, 20.6 PER, 37.9 MPG 6. Rajon Rondo, Celtics Stats: 13.7 PPG, 11.1 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 3.9 TO, 48.4 FG%, 24.0 3P%, 18.3 PER, 37.4 MPG 5. Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers Stats: 23.3 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 3.2 TO, 46.8 FG%, 42.0 3P%, 22.7 PER, 35.2 MPG 4. Derrick Rose, Bulls Stats: 21.8 PPG, 7.9 APG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 3.1 TO, 43.5 FG%, 31.2 3P%, 23.1 PER, 35.3 MPG 3. Russell Westbrook, Thunder Stats: 23.3 PPG, 7.8 APG, 5.2 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 3.6 TO, 43.4 FG%, 34.5 3P%, 23.7 PER, 35.6 MPG 2. Tony Parker, Spurs Stats: 21.1 PPG, 7.6 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 3.1 TO, 53.3 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 24.6 PER, 33.0 MPG 1. Chris Paul, Clippers Stats: 16.3 PPG, 9.6 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 2.2 TO, 47.7 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 26.1 PER, 32.6 MPG Now compare Isaiah's numbers: Stats: 13.9 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.0 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 1.8 TO, 44.0 FG%, 35.8 3P%, 17.5 PER, 26.5 MPG The problem with Isaiah's numbers is that he plays 10 minutes less per game than the average PG listed above (36 mpg). Per 36: 18.7 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 2.4 TO, 44.0 FG%, 35.8 3P%, 17.5 PER Isaiah's numbers if he was getting real starter's minutes, actually fares quite well against these elite point guards. He would be 5th in scoring, 9th in assists, 10th in rebounds, 7th in steals, 2nd in turnovers, 7th in FG%, 4th in 3P%, 10th in PER. He would be 3rd in FT% as well. When you consider the ridiculously low salary, Isaiah is one of the best values in the league. While many on STR have debated whether Isaiah should be kept v. traded, start v. come off the bench, I believe when you compare him overall to these other elite PGs, many of which the STR faithful pine for regularly, it really begs the question do we really need another starting point guard on this team? While I would love any of the other PGs listed for different reasons, you cannot deny Isaiah deserves a place as a starter on this team and worthy of building around. Thoughts?