Before we breakdown the two players at the center of our “You’re The GM” series this week, it’s worth briefly looking back at last week’s matchup, which you can do here. For the record though, when both comments received and twitter interactions were put together, Anthony Davis got the nod over Damian Lillard in a surprising landslide. Even Portland Trail Blazers fans were taking Davis over their own Rookie of the Year award-winning All-Star! With that in the books, this week we look at two mid-level point guards who are having above average seasons in Isaiah Thomas and Kyle Lowry.
It is easy to forget Isaiah Thomas even exists at times, and this afterthought kind of mentality associated with him has existed since he was drafted in with the last available pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. Obviously the starting role was never meant to be his, certainly not right away, and yet in year three here he is steering this mediocre team. As a result of bad results and the fact that DeMarcus Cousins plays for the team, not to mention the shot happy Rudy Gay, Thomas usually doesn’t get brought up much.
At five feet nine inches, he’s usually lost in a sea of bigger bodies on the court as well. But if you paid attention, and chances are in late January you did, you would’ve seen that Thomas is getting better quickly and could make a genuine case for Most Improved Player of the Year. That aforementioned stretch in January saw him drop thirty-eight points on the unsuspecting Oklahoma City Thunder, before repeating the trick against the Indiana Pacers five days later.
Yes the Kings lose more often than not, but Thomas isn’t the reason. This season he’s averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 assists. That he can even get 2.8 rebounds a contest as well is testament to how much he puts on the floor. They say that 17 points and seven assists or rebounds, depending on position, is enough to consider a player an All-Star candidate. Should Thomas’ numbers not then put him in the conversation? He was hardly snubbed from the game this year, for his name was never even brought up in the first place. Of course this is understandable given that there are far better point guards in the Western Conference alone, but it does go to show that more than a few people are sleeping on his abilities.
If the Kings ever get their act together and become a competitive team, there is no doubt that the stock of Thomas would rise even more. As it stands though, the 25-year-old is still young enough to be at the core of this young Kings team as it tries to turn things around. Should Thomas ever move on either through free agency or an unlikely trade, however, more people may then realize how dangerous he can be while suiting up for a playoff-bound team. Keep an eye on this guy, he’s not done surprising people yet.
It is fair to say that Kyle Lowry has spent some time moving about the league. This is not because of how he has played personally, but because of the fact that he couldn’t land in a stable situation that suited both his employers and himself. Now with the Toronto Raptors (for how much longer?), he is running the point for a team well and truly on its way back to the playoffs. He is the conductor for a team that also features All-Star DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross.
Part of the reason the Raptors are flying high in the East is that the conference is in a poor state. That is underselling this team however, as you can only play the teams you are pitted against, and Lowry has been at the center of most of their good play this year. Of course this tends to happen when a player is nearing the end of his contract and approaching free agency, or is the subject of constant trade speculation. These players tend to play at a higher rate than normal, trying to woo potential suitors into splashing their cash on them.
Lowry is no exception, having the most influential season of his career. His season averages 16.9 points and 7.6 assists may be lower than Thomas’ but they are not to be sniffed at either. Lowry also plays his role in a more balanced offense, and this can attribute to his slightly lower individual numbers. This season has seen Lowry at his best, but can he get any better or is this as good as it gets for the former Villanova player? If he sticks around in Toronto, will this level of play also stay? Similarly, if he lands somewhere else with an enticing long-term deal, will he still put up these respectable numbers? At 27 years old, he already knows the kind of player he can be. Leading this Raptors team into the playoffs is an exciting challenge for him and if they can get a series win, surely his stock will rise higher as a result. It has been a season to remember for him personally, but how much longer will it continue?
If a contending team had either of these players running their second units they could both easily be Sixth Man of the Year. As it is they are good point guards who occasionally play great, but who will never be truly elite in this league. At this point however, it looks like Thomas may be the player to go for. He is that bit younger and has suffered through the constant grind of losing, still managing to have big nights himself despite not being the focal point of this team. Lowry is able to set the table more consistently for his team, and it shows in his assist numbers. Pair him with a dominant forward and they could be a devastating combo. You just feel there is more to come from Thomas though. Given the choice, who would you take for your team and why? As ever, all comments below will be included in the final tally, as well as those who reply to me personally @LucaLockheart.