Why Isaiah Thomas Makes
Perfect Sense for Suns
Adding The Diminutive Guard Who Played His College Ball At The University of Washington Might Not Seem To Make Sense At First Blush, But His Presence Makes Sense For This Season And Beyond
Image by Neon Tommy and used under a Creative Commons license.
By Wayne Schutsky
Special for Modern Times Magazine
July 16, 2014 — The Phoenix Suns completed a sign-and-trade with Sacramento for point guard Isaiah Thomas last weekend. While Thomas is a talented player who is still improving, the trade doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense on the surface. If the Suns re-sign Eric Bledsoe, that would give them six point guards on the roster.
So, the Thomas trade could simply be insurance in case another team extends an offer to restricted free agent Bledsoe that the Suns are unwilling to match. The only problem with that theory is that the Suns have been vocal about their intent to match any offer to sign away Bledsoe.
Another theory says that Phoenix is intent on putting together an attractive package including either Bledsoe or Goran Dragic to send to Minnesota in a trade for Kevin Love. This theory is entirely possible but there is no guarantee the Timberwolves will go for it. If this is the Suns plan, the team has to be prepared for the very real possibility that it could have three talented, high-priced point guards on its hands.
And, I think it is.
Do not get me wrong. If the Suns have a chance to trade away one player from a position overflowing with talent along with some draft picks to get a top-tier player like Love, I think they’ll do it in a heartbeat. But, if that doesn’t happen, the Suns are perfectly fine with the roster as it stands, plus a re-signed Bledsoe.
Coach Jeff Hornacek’s game plan revolves around a potent, fast-paced offense. That’s why adding another great scoring threat to the back court makes sense for this team, even though it would be ludicrous for many other clubs.
A lot of people think it’s crazy to pay a backup point guard $7 million a year, but the backup title doesn’t tell the whole story. Thomas thrives off of the bench and would be the perfect complement to both Dragic and Bledsoe. Who cares if a player starts when he is contributing 15 to 20 points?
Dragic and Bledsoe are your starters at point guard and shooting guard (or point guard 1A). They both have a more proven track record of success than Thomas. More importantly, both players size gives them a defensive presence that Thomas simply cannot match. More often than not, he is a liability on defense because he is smaller than other players. Though, he does have the speed to contribute some steals.
However, as the Suns are currently set up, Thomas could always be on the floor with the defensively superior Dragic or Bledsoe. He would never be charged with guarding a team’s best guard, more often than not he’d be guarding another backup.
This is also the situation where Thomas would shine offensively. In this three point guard set up, Thomas could spell either Dragic or Bledsoe throughout the game without any scoring let up. Thomas averaged 20.3 points per game last season. His numbers may dip a little because the Suns have more scoring options than the Kings, but I don’t expect a significant drop off.
Quite simply, when it comes to bench players, there aren’t many that can match Thomas’ production. He can make the other two point guards better by putting in quality minutes off of the bench. This means Hornacek doesn’t have to rush the starters back in without giving them proper rest.
And for anyone that thinks Thomas can’t produce in a supporting role, consider this: he only started 54 of 72 games last year, so he has proven he can put up numbers as starter or role player.
The Suns could swing a deal for Kevin Love in the next month or so and render this all moot, but if they don’t, the team has itself a quality player in Isaiah Thomas who can help take the team to the next level.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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