Posted by: natehughart | January 12, 2012

Should Isaiah Thomas start?

That is the question isn’t it? After last night’s performance against Toronto, it’s a fair question to ask. Yet, while I don’t disagree with the premise that Tom Ziller mentioned today, it’s not to say that isn’t a reasonable surmise. After all, patience is typically a good thing with young and/or drastically altered rosters.

On the other hand, there are other considerations if you are Keith Smart. Namely, how do you maximize the value of the talent with the players on hand and the talents of those specific players? Ah, that is the trickiness of said situation.

According to Basketball-Value, and obviously there is severely limited data on this front, there are a number of positive lineups that include Jimmer Fredette/Marcus Thornton and/or Isaiah Thomas.

What does this really mean? It means that if you start Isaiah Thomas, it’s not necessarily about starting Isaiah Thomas. After all, is it important if you start or no? Does anyone think it’s terrible that Manu Ginobili comes off the bench? (I know he’s the one guy cited, but he’s also the one guy who also has embraced it for the betterment of himself.)

My point here is that it woudln’t hurt the Kings to bring Thornton off the bench with Jimmer for a couple of reasons. One, it would allow Jimmer to facilitate more (something he is doing well early on) than he currently has and Two it would take the pressure off Jimmer to score the ball playing alongside Thornton.

If one area, and I think it’s a legitimate concern, is that the Kings are getting off to slow starts, having Thomas as a sparkplug to start the game may actually be more effective than bringing that spark plug off the bench every night.

Would Thornton and Fredette still get more minutes despite coming off the bench? Of course they would. But Thomas, who can facilitate and plays well off Evans in my opinion, shouldn’t be judged on an assist rate or how many turnovers he’s committed. It’s about fit and how Thomas plays. Thomas and Cousins seem to have a natural understanding on how to play off each other and that’s important.

At any rate, I think it’s difficult to say that starting Thomas is less about giving up on Evans/Thornton and more about maximizing the talents that the Kings team currently has. If Keith Smart’s job is to do that very point, maximize production that is, I would say Smart would be wise to consider starting Thomas to help Fredette gain confidence and give Thornton the shots he needs.

The issue I have had with moving Thornton to the bench is there is no natural facilitator beyond Jimmer in the current rotation. If Thomas can play off both Evans and Cousins to a great extent somewhat eliminating the need for a “pure” facilitator in the starting lineup, than I think the issue is moot.

When you’re 4-7 and the Kings have struggled with chemistry, you have to look for lineup’s to work. While I’m not ready to give up on the Evans/Thornton pairing, I am of the mind that the Kings need a different energy to start the game and the type of firebug energy that Isaiah Thomas gives you, even if it’s only for 15 minutes a night, is something the Kings desperately need.

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Responses

  1. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I wouldn’t have any issues with Isiah Thomas starting until Marcus Thornton fully recovers from injury. I think if they allowed him to start he might even be able to steal the job from Thornton. Thornton is having a very solid season so far so I wouldn’t really want to hurt his ego or ruin his confidence by benching him for a 60th pick who has only played 11 games. I don’t really think it would effect a guy like Thornton but it’s always possible. The Kings starting lineup needs facilitators and that’s what I think Thomas will be able to provide easilly more than Thornton or Jimmer. He also has great chemistry with Cousins and Tyreke so he naturally fits better as a starter than Jimmer without question. Thornton could easily fit into a 6th man role off the bench kind of like Terry\Bobby Jackson type player as that’s what I’ve always seen him as in the first place.

    I like the idea of Jimmer taking a step back and not starting again anytime soon. I also like the idea of Thornton being a 6th man of the year type of weapon that could help the Kings very weak bench. The main reason I was against drafting Jimmer in the first place is that he’s a very similar player to Thornton and doesn’t really bring a lot of what this team lacks. That’s the main problem and I don’t really think having Thornton and Jimmer both coming off the bench would work at all. Both of them have the same strengths and weaknesses and will not benefit from playing in the same unit with one another. This is when you need a guy like Isiah Thomas playing in the backcourt with a guy like Thornton or Jimmer but of course Tyreke is there so it’s a bit of a longjam. Due to Thornton and Jimmer being such similar players, I don’t think starting Isiah Thomas with this team would ever be a success because the bench would struggle so much and it would hurt the team overall more than help. I say the best thing to do would just continue to add on Isiah’s minutes while reducing Jimmer’s a bit and continue starting Thornton.


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