Last night against the Washington Wizards, Isaiah Thomas became the shortest player in NBA history to record a Triple-Double. His 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists were instrumental in carrying the Kings to an overtime victory over the Washington Wizards.
When discussing Isaiah Thomas' merits and demerits, his size is always at the forefront. It's the primary reason he fell all the way to the 60th pick. It's one of the primary reasons given by people who say he shouldn't be a starting Point Guard in this league (an assertion that has become laughable). It might be a primary reason as to why he won't receive a contract offer this summer that is commensurate with the numbers he puts up.
Yet time and time again, Isaiah Thomas is proving his short stature is less of a problem than it is a strength. People continuously underestimate him because of it. Last night for example, Thomas went up against rising star John Wall. If you could create a Point Guard's Physical attributes, you'd make one like John Wall: 6'4, long, explosive, incredibly fast. Yet it was Thomas who got the better of Wall (for the second time this season), including defensively, where his quickness allowed him to stay in front of Wall and draw a couple of key charges.
Thomas' size has also proven to be a non-issue on the offensive end. You would think at 5'9 a player like Thomas would struggle at finishing around the basket, and yet he is one of the league's best. According to Basketball-Reference, Thomas is making 67% of his shots around the rim, and 66.7% of his layups. For reference the aforementioned John Wall is making 62.1% of his layups (although his 36 for 36 on dunks bumps his total at rim percentage to 67.6%). DeMarcus Cousins, a Center, makes 66.5% of his rim attempts. Tony Parker, a player known for his ability to get to the basket and score, is at 63.0%. Tyreke Evans, who we used to call the Layup King, has never shot higher than 65.4% at the rim.
Through three years, Isaiah Thomas has managed to average a PER of 18.8 (his current year total of 20.7 puts him behind just Stephen Curry, Goran Dragic and Chris Paul among Point Guards), a True Shooting Percentage of .574 (on a kinda freaky note, that's been his average every single year) and an assist rate of 27.8% (his 32.3% this year is 11th in the league).
I wondered which players have put those kind of numbers up through three seasons, so I put parameters of PER >= 18, Assist % >= 25 and True Shooting % >= .550 to see who would pop up.
The list (you can scroll if you want to see complete stats):
That's quite the company Thomas is in. While I wouldn't go so far as to say Isaiah is or will be as good as these players, it's enough to me that he's performing at an incredibly high level. Thomas has done more than enough in my eyes to prove that not only can he be a starter in this league, but that he can be a damn good one.