NBA / Nov 8, 2013 / 4:00 pm

You Need To Watch The Isaiah Thomas, Greivis Vasquez Position Battle

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas (photo. Reebok Basketball)

The Sacramento Kings franchise always seems to have some sort of problem. This past offseason, their franchise was threatened with a relocation to Seattle and every week it seems as if DeMarcus Cousins starts some sort of trouble. However, right now, the Kings have a problem that might benefit the franchise. The point guard battle between 5-9 Isaiah Thomas and 6-6 Greivis Vasquez is an intriguing problem to have. From first glance, one would believe that Vasquez would easily beat out Thomas for a starting NBA point guard position. He’s 6-6 and can see things on the court that Thomas will never be able to see at 5-9. Just being 5-9 puts Thomas at a distinct disadvantage in any position battle. So, how is it that Isaiah Thomas is making a strong case for being the starting point guard of the Sacramento Kings? Let’s see…

Both Vasquez and Thomas play the point guard position, but that does not define them. Both players have a completely different mindset when it comes to being a floor general. Greivis Vasquez is your traditional point guard, comparable to an Andre Miller style of play. Thomas has recognized this notion and had the following to say about the differences between the two:

“We’re not close to the same player. I mean he’s a bigger guard, slow-paced guard kind of like Andre Miller. He makes good plays, makes the right play most of the time, and he’s a guy that even if you pressure him, he’s not going to go faster than he usually does, he’s just going to do what he’s good at, and that’s controlling the offensive end … Me, I’m up and down, I’m 100 miles per hour.”

Isaiah Thomas, on the other hand, is an aggressive point guard that is a natural scorer but also has a unique skill-set to get into the lane, draw multiple defenders and be able to dish the ball to an open man. Vasquez can create scoring opportunities just from his floor vision and smart decision making, but Thomas has the ability to create havoc and use the attention drawn to him to find open shots on the perimeter. Look at this clip from a game the other night against the Clippers:

On the first play in the clip, Thomas has a matchup against the NBA’s best point guard, Chris Paul. Thomas identifies this matchup and uses a pick-and-roll to get the much larger, but slower Blake Griffin on him. Then, we see Thomas use his distinct speed advantage and dribbling ability to get past Griffin, slide through the lane and finish a layup among the trees. An NBA team has five players on the court, so look back at this play and notice that when Thomas slides into the lane, he draws the attention of every single player. Every pair of eyes on the Clippers are focused on Thomas. Even though he decided to finish the contested layup, he had a wide open Ben McLemore in the corner for three. Just this one play shows the type of explosiveness that Thomas possesses, but also the opportunities he can create as a point guard.

The second play in the clip is where the separation from Vasquez and Thomas is undeniable. With a traditional point guard like Vasquez, after a defensive rebound/blocked shot, he might pull it up and try to create offense in the half-court. As we see in this play, Thomas has a different mindset. As soon as Thomas sees the block, he starts sprinting towards midcourt waiting for the ball. When Thomas gets the ball he spins right past Chris Paul, not phased by him at all, forces three defenders to collapse on him and delivers a no-look dime to Jason Thompson in stride. These two explosive plays from Thomas show his explosiveness as a point guard and the opportunities he can create that a traditional, slower point guard can’t create.

Although the NBA season is only a few weeks young, Isaiah Thomas has been flat-out balling. Four games into the season, Thomas is averaging 20.8 points and 4.8 assists while playing 29.7 minutes per game. The player he’s trying to take the starting job from? Nine points and 3.8 assists. While those numbers show that Thomas is outperforming Vasquez on the court, let’s dig deeper into analytics and find the good stuff.

Keep reading to see which player deserves the starting spot…

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  • IDK02

    Yes IT, the two of you are different point guards. Greivis is a team first guy. You are all about you and you and you….IT, all you do is try to show up your own teammates and other point guards. You can’t be a floor general, too selfish. You can’t run a team like CP3 or Greivis, they are team first point guards. IT doesn’t have the BBIQ to help his teammates. All you care about is scoring and you only pass when you are tired or trapped.

    Note IT, I know you read the comments. Good luck tonight, prove me wrong and create for your teammates.

  • http://www.twitter.com/zlasher Michael Chan

    How come theres no mention of any defensive differences or statistics from Thomas to Vasquez? Surely a 6’6 PG helps defend a wider range than a 5’10 PG. We can keep comparing Isaiah Thomas to Westbrook or Rose, but he’s not nearly the creator that those two are, and he doesn’t have the mid range game of a Parker.

  • Fidel Arias

    i would alternate sg and pg with those two the first game Sac won for several mins Vásquez and Thomas where at the same time on the court and did a good job, Vásquez isnt gonna be league leader in assists with DMC as a post scoring center, coach gotta think in long terms team if they wanna get to the playoffs, rigth desicions wins games not fast ones, im Venezuelan and i support Vásquez all the way but i admit he has to get better on offensive individual plays

  • IDK02


  • GS

    First of all, IT is not selfish. He’s much more of a scorer, that’s true, but that’s also a matter of abilities, not just inclination. He’s a great finisher, but just an OK passer. When there’s an open man with a better shot, he will usually make the extra pass.

    There have been lots of great shoot-first PGs in this league (just look at Mayor Johnson) who made their teams better while still scoring 20+.

    You mentioned Toni Parker, but Parker spent a lot of his early career in Pop’s doghouse because he was too focused on his own scoring. Many PGs become better passers with time, and IT has a very good starting point.

    Not to mention that it’s a lot easier to get assists when you’re playing with Tim Duncan and co. than with Sacramento’s current talent. Give IT 36 minutes and a team that shoots 48%, and he’ll rack up 2-3 more assists per game.

    So no, he’ll never be CP3, John Stockton, or Steve Nash, but the same goes for 95% of NBA PGs.