I'm sure it comes as a huge shock to many of you to learn that for the past few years Isaiah Thomas has been my favorite player. Back in 2011 when I was compiling my annual stats of rookie prospects, Thomas' name popped out at me. Here was a guy who could score, pass and do a little bit of everything. On paper, he looked better than a lot of guys that were projected to be taken much higher. Why was this guy not on anybody's radar? Oh, he's 5'9. "Yeah, that's gonna limit him in the league", I thought. I wouldn't be the last person to make that mistake.
When the Kings picked Thomas with the last pick of the draft, I was happy, but I wasn't ecstatic or super excited. Most second round picks don't make the team, let alone become consistent contributors. The Kings still had Tyreke Evans handling the ball a majority of the time and they also just drafted Jimmer Fredette. There weren't any expectations when it came to Isaiah.
That all changed once the season started. After Paul Westphal got fired and Keith Smart took over, Thomas started seeing more and more minutes, especially as Jimmer Fredette struggled to adapt to the NBA game. By the All-Star break, Thomas was starting. He nearly had a triple-double in that first game as a starter. He went toe-to-toe with guys like Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Stephen Curry. He didn't back down from anything. He got the crowds going with huge shots, ankle-breaking moves and strong drives to the basket over taller defenders. He fed off our energy and we fed off his.
But what really cemented Thomas' place in our collective heart (or at least mine) was at that City Council Meeting where we voted on the first term sheet for a new arena. Thomas not only was the only player to come but he also took the time to speak, and I will never forget that. This became even more meaningful when after the term sheet was ripped up and it looked like the Kings would be moving to his native Washington, he still kept saying all the right things about wanting to keep the team here. I will never forget that.
We'll miss the highlight plays, the corny but great Pizza Guys commercials, and that dynamic ability to instantly turn around a game, but we'll also miss Isaiah Thomas the person.
Thank you for an amazing three years Isaiah Thomas. I wish it could have been longer, but though you're no longer a member of the Sacramento Kings, you will always be near and dear to the city of Sacramento.