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The Hoop Doctors

Isaiah Thomas Should Start at Point Guard for Sacramento Kings

dfavale December 21, 2012 Dan Favale No Comments

Can the Sacramento Kings do anything right?

Apparently not.

At the risk of sounding brutal but in the spirit of being honest, the Kings are a horrible basketball team. They’re 8-17 on the season—giving them the second-worst record in the Western Conference—are still trying to figure out the self-destructive enigma that is Demarcus Cousins, have yet to see consistent promise in rookie Thomas Robinson and continue boast the likes of a number of undesirable contracts.

Oh, and they’re also shooting themselves in the foot at the point guard position.

Currently, head coach Keith Smart is electing to start Aaron Brooks at point over last year’s rookie sensation Isaiah Thomas. Why? I don’t exactly know.

And according to Aaron Bruski of NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk blog, neither do Sacramento’s players:

Namely, sources close to key Kings players have told ProBasketballTalk that they are frustrated with the fact that point guard Isaiah Thomas isn’t starting and acting as the team’s floor general. Thomas finished seventh in last season’s Rookie of the Year voting, but arguably could have finished as high as second place when one compares his numbers to that of Ricky Rubio, who held that spot.

Thomas boasted shooting lines of 47.7/40.6/84.1 while averaging 14.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.0 turnovers in 31.6 minutes per game in 37 starts, which compare favorably to Rubio’s shooting lines of 35.7/34.0/80.3 with averages of 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 3.2 turnovers in 34.2 minutes per game in 41 starts.

In the world of anonymous sources you can color me a skeptic, yet these faceless entities have a point. Thomas should be starting.

Though Brooks is a semi-proven commodity on offense, he’s not what the Kings need right now. Nor is he playing like a semi-proven commodity. On the season he’s averaging just 9.4 points and 2.6 assists per game en route to posting a career-low 12.57 PER. His 1.76 assists-to-turnover ratio is the lowest of his career well.

By comparison, Thomas is averaging 9.7 points and two assists per game in significantly less playing time, posting a PER of 15.18. His assists-to-turnover ratio is at an alarming 1.17, but it’s hard to develop any sort of continuity when your playing less than 20 minutes per game.

As if that’s not enough, there’s also the fact that when Brooks is on the court, Sacramento is allowing opponents to score at a rate of 111 points per 100 possessions. That number falls to 107.6 when Thomas is on the floor.

I understand that the stats alone aren’t enough. After all, the difference isn’t exactly mind-boggling.

That said, as Bruski himself noted, Thomas spent the entire summer practicing as the head of the team’s offense. He familiarized himself with the system and took great strides toward improving his two-way skill set. But then Brooks comes in and is essentially handed the starting job on a silver platter.

Are you kidding me?

Thomas is just 23 and has proved to be a wealth of two-way potential. Sure, he the 2011 NBA Draft’s Mr. Irrelevant, but after the rookie year he had, he should be anything but irrelevant to the Kings.

And yet, here we stand, watching as the Kings continue to lose and darken the outlook of their future.

No, I’m not saying Thomas will solve all their problems, but giving him more burn is a start. It’s a sign that shows the Kings are open to changing, that they’re open to doing the right thing, that they’re actively attempting to get better.

And that they’re actually privy to what’s best for the team and its players, both now, and for the future.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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