By Kings.com Fan Correspondent Alex Kramers
Past: The Kings selected University of Washington guard Isaiah Thomas – who was named to the 2011 First Team then-All-PAC-10 and won the PAC-10 Tournament MVP – with the 60th and final pick in the NBA Draft. The lightning-quick guard averaged 16.8 points, 6.1 assists (12th in the nation), 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game as a junior, sporting an excellent 2.05-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The 5-foot-9 guard – named after NBA Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas –ranks third in career assists (415) and three-point field goals (164), sixth in points (1,721) and eighth in steals (122) in school history, and his 213 assists in 2010-11 were the second-highest in UW single-season history. On Nov. 13, 2009, he notched a career-high 30 points (7-14 FG, 14-18 FT) against Wright State, and scored 28 points, including an incredible buzzer-beater, to lift Washington past Arizona for the PAC-10 championship on March 12, 2011.
Present: Thomas spent much of the offseason training in Las Vegas at the Impact Basketball Training Series, where he showed off his acceleration and craftiness by dropping 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in his first game. The Kings rookie also worked out in his hometown of Tacoma, Wash., and credits the experience of playing against NBA players from the area, including Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry and Nate Robinson, for giving him the confidence and comfort level to hold his own against top-level competition.
Playing in Jimmer Fredette’s All-Star exhibition game in Utah in September, Thomas quickly won over the crowd when he bounced the ball off the floor and threw down a two-handed slam in the first quarter, leading to “We want Thomas!” chants from fans. The explosive guard came back to hit consecutive three-pointers on the next two possessions, and capped off the game with another thunderous dunk. He finished the night with 19 points (8-18 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Future: The 5-foot-9 dynamo is sure to make a big splash in Sacramento, where it won’t be long before he becomes an instant fan favorite like former Kings undersized high-flyers Ronnie Price and Spud Webb.
Thomas, who has a knack for making spectacular plays in transition with his crossover dribble and quick first step, also exhibited the ability to draw contact while operating around the basket, averaging 7.5 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes last season. The speedy rookie will serve as an ideal change-of-pace point guard off the bench.
“I’m very excited,” said Thomas following the Draft. “All I needed was a chance, and I got it. I’m going to take full advantage of it.”