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Suns Get Fearless Firecracker in Isaiah Thomas

by Matt Petersen

If you want to know how good Isaiah Thomas can be, just look back to his early 2013-14 success at Phoenix's expense.

A quirky early-season schedule had the Suns and Kings clash three times before New Years. Sacramento won two of those games, thanks in large part to Thomas burning them worse and worse each successive meeting.

  • Nov. 19 -- 19 points, three assists, two steals, 6-of-12 FG
  • Nov. 20 -- 23 points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals, 8-of-13 FG
  • Dec. 13 -- 29 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal, 11-of-20 FG, 3-of-6 from downtown

By the time 2014 rolled around, the Suns were sick of Isaiah Thomas -- which is why you can't blame them for wanting him so badly.

All too often, the player you hate the most on the other team is the one you'd love to have on your own squad. Guys like that have an edge, a feistiness that can't be taught. You're either born with it or life forces it on you.

Isaiah Thomas Gets 30 and 8

With Thomas, it seems to be a little of both. Nothing carves out a chip on your shoulder like being underestimated for something as petty as height. At 5-9, Thomas is tied with Denver guard Nate Robinson for "shortest guy in the NBA"  honors. You can add "shortest NBA player ever to get a triple-double" to his list of height-related accolades as well.

It's worth debating how much his height truly matters when the other 400 or so NBA players in the league couldn't stop him from averaging over 20 points and six assists a game, point guard numbers matched only by All-Star Damian Lillard (assuming, of course, you're counting Goran Dragic as a shooting guard).

Events also helped create Thomas' edge. Despite a standout college career at Washington, he was forced to hear 59 names called before his own was mercifully called with the last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.

Sixtieth overall picks get minimal fanfare to begin with, but Thomas' presence was eclipsed by another scoring guard the Kings had acquired in the lottery portion of the draft. Former NCAA National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette was slated to be Sacramento's impact rookie, and it didn't help Thomas that his skill set (score-first guard) was the same as his own.

Not that Thomas wanted or needed help. He hadn't before and saw little need to wait for it in the NBA. Instead he outplayed his fellow rookie and every other guard on the Kings' roster, until the last pick of the draft was the first perimter option in Sacramento's offense.

As Thomas continued to flourish -- again, sometimes at the Suns' expense -- Phoenix saw a player that would be absolutely explosive in its uptempo, guard-heavy offense. For reasons unknown, Sacramento was willing to give him up.

When Thomas was wooed in the Valley this week, he was as impressed by the Suns' interest as the team was by his talent.

Thomas and the Suns are thrilled, but opponents won't be. He's only 25 and bound to get better, but it's a sure bet that edge of his will stick with him no matter how old he gets.

The only difference is Phoenix and its fans can now enjoy it, because it'll be draped by their own shade of purple.