Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Isaiah Thomas: Last, but Not Least

By Rob Small

If you're drafted with the 60th pick, it's seems inevitable that you're destined to jump from training camp to training camp, ending up in the D-League or overseas. That's not the case for point guard Isaiah Thomas, who the Sacramento Kings used the last pick on in the 2011 draft.

Instead of never living the NBA dream, the Seattle native from the University of Washington made his presence felt as a consistent contributor for the Kings at the point. At 5-foot-9-inches and 185 pounds, Thomas brings speed, creates his own shot, finds open teammates and brings a no-quit energy that no other player has brought to the floor as often as he has.

The first glimpse of Thomas' play came on the road in Toronto, where he notched 20 points and six assists off the bench in a win over the Raptors. Eventually, head coach Keith Smart replaced underperforming small forward John Salmons with Thomas in the starting line up. Thomas has relished the opportunity ever since.

"I just felt that Isaiah had been playing great," coach Keith Smart said after last night's practice. "Via coming off the bench, via limited time — Everything he had been doing had a positive effect on our team."

In his second start pitted against rookie of the year candidate Kyrie Irving, Thomas dropped 23 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists on the first pick of the 2011 draft as the Cavs edged the Kings. He finished two rebounds shy of becoming the shortest player to record a triple double.

Two days later in South Beach, he scored 20 of his career-high of 24 points in the third quarter, draining five three-pointers, another career-high, in a loss to the Miami Heat. In his game before All-Star Weekend, Thomas scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the Kings to victory.

In Thomas' four starts, the early results have been great, averaging 19.2 points, 3.8 boards and 6.8 assists with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's no Jeremy Lin, but Thomas sure is worth taking notice of going into the second half of the season.

"I'm just playing my heart out," Thomas said after the win over the Wizards. "The guys believe in me, my coaches trust me. I'm just going out there trying to do whatever I can to win."

Haven't seen any Isaiah Thomas highlights? Get an idea of what Isaiah Thomas brings to the floor from this video: