December 14, 2017, 4:57 pm
The lasting effects of the Kings moving on from Isaiah Thomas in 2014 won’t be forgotten any time soon — by fans or the front office, hopefully. Thomas was a once in a lifetime steal for Sacramento when they selected him as the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Thomas was the third selection by the Kings that season; the other two being Jimmer Fredette and Tyler Honeycutt. Honeycutt was out of the league by 2013 and Fredette followed in 2016. Thomas obviously went a different direction than the two in terms of success.
Fast forward to 2017. The Kings end up with three first round draft picks and a second rounder. The second rounder was used to select Frank Mason. A player whose size was a sticking point for why teams passed on him (sounds familiar), but his resiliency has led to him earning not only minutes, but playing time in the closing seconds of games as of late.
It’s far too early to truly compare the two players and the correlation isn’t particularly necessary. But the similarities are unavoidable.
Mason and Thomas were both passed up in their respective drafts and weren’t the most hyped player selected by the Kings. De’Aaron Fox and Fredette possessed much of the attention the year they were drafted.
Both players began the season not seeing floor time. Mason saw time in just one of the first five games of his NBA career while Thomas saw an average of about seven minutes per game in his first five.
Mason, through 20 games, has an assist rating of 26.7 percent, which was right around the same as Thomas’ 25.6 AST% in his rookie year.
And looking at the per-36 numbers from their rookie seasons, it may (or may not) be a surprise how similarly the two stack up. Mason is currently averaging 15.5 points, 6.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds per-36. Thomas’ rookie averages per-36 were 16.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds.
Mason and Thomas, though, have varying playing styles. When watching Mason, it’s a slower, more precise playing style as opposed to the uptempo, quick-on-the-draw style of Thomas. Mason doesn’t have the speed of Thomas and has utilized his body control to finish at the rim, whereas Thomas uses a quick first step to get to the bucket before employing the same control.
It may be unfair to Mason, or even disrespectful to Thomas, to put the two in the same sentence since Thomas has played six seasons in the league, has two All Star appearances and two top-10 scoring seasons. Mason on the other hand hasn’t even played half a season.
But the Kings screwed up royally when they let Thomas get away three years ago and it’s not often you get a chance to make amends with a player cut out of the same cloth.