This is nothing new for Isaiah Thomas.
These new guards, with their height advantages and impressive pedigrees might intimidate or hurt the ego of Isaiah Thomas… if only he hadn’t faced this before. A look into the hustlin’ husky’s past reveals why this is just another conquerable challenge for IT.
During his freshman year at the University of Washington, Thomas battled for time in the backcourt with sophomore Venoy Overton and senior Justin Dentmon. He started at the point and rode averages of 15.4 points and 2.6 assists to a Pac-10 Championship and Freshman of the Year honors.
The following season, Thomas continued to compete with Overton for playing time and also beat out top-ranked freshman guard Abdul Gaddy for the starting nod. He raised his averages to 16.9 points and 3.2 assists, drew comparisons to Damon Stoudamire and former Husky great Nate Robinson, and was named “All-Pac 10.”
As a junior, the Huskies star started over Overton and (now Toronto Raptors guard) Terrence Ross and crushed the Pac-10 as the Huskies leading scorer.
In cooooooolllld blooood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEGP6nBiub8).
As if that wasn’t enough competition, Mr. Irrelevant has butted heads with Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and Jimmer Fredette for NBA minutes in his first two years. His hard-nosed and fearless play has made him a fan favorite, along with the dignity and respect he handles his off the court life. In multiple situations with varying degrees of difficulty and maturity, Thomas has shown that competition raises his game. He takes on all comers, and that’s what makes him uniquely qualified for his next challenge in the NBA: Backing up Greivis Vasquez and becoming the Kings 6th man.
As I’m sure you all know, the Kings acquired the 6-foot-6 Venezuelan in a sign and trade for Tyreke Evans (See: http://kingsscoop.com/2013/07/the-intangibles-vasquez-will-bring-to-sacramento/). Vazquez, who posted averages of over 13.9 points and nine assists last season, figures to be the starting point guard for Sacramento.
I expect Vasquez to play well this season and take his game to new heights. This is because of Isaiah Thomas. Vasquez will have to play at a high level, because Thomas (and rookie Ray McCallum) will be nipping at his heels for playing time.
The ideal scenario for the Kings would mirror the rotation Rick Adelman used in the early 2000’s. Mike Bibby would start, and Bobby Jackson would come off the bench and play big minutes as well. Though Bibby started, he only played about 5 minutes per game more than Jackson. This balance in minutes would bode well for both the play and development (both players have less than three full years in the league) of Vasquez and Thomas.
On a more macro level, how would any of us react to our organization bringing in a new person to specifically replace us? Because they believe that this new person can do our job better. While that is certainly the harsh reality of professional sports, Thomas’ maturity and attitude are certainly admirable, especially when we consider that he is 24-years-old.
(From the Sacramento Bee) “It’s just another battle. And may the best man win the position. If they want to have it like that then we’re going to go to battle each and every day. Those are my teammates but I’m fighting for a position just like they are. Every time you’re losing, when you’re not making the playoffs everybody’s position is up for grabs. They’re going to try to bring in new guys at each position. I’m 5-9 – I know what they’re doing – 5-9 guys aren’t supposed to be in this league. I’m just going to keep working, keep battling. Like I told Coach Malone, you can bring whoever you want in here it’s going to be a battle each and every day. I’m ready for it. Vaquez, McCallum are some great guards, we’re going to have fun and make each other better.”
So what do you think Kings fans? Bobby Jackson 2.0?