In the final season of his three-year stint with the Sacramento Kings, point guard Isaiah Thomas noticed something different about the Phoenix Suns.
“Seeing that there are really no arguments on the floor, that these guys love playing with each other — I always say (you’ve got to) play for each other, not with each other, and we’ve got a team that plays for each other,” he said. “I think this team is the definition of that.”
The Suns lured Thomas from the Kings and signed him to a four-year, $28 million deal in July — partly because of his 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game with Sacramento last season, and partly as an insurance policy in case fellow point guard and restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe decided to sign elsewhere.
Bledsoe signed a long-term deal with the Suns last week — and along with Goran Dragic, who averaged a team-high 20.3 points last season along with 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, Phoenix now has three point guards who could start for most NBA teams.
Thomas isn’t concerned about the logjam at the position, trusting coach Jeff Hornacek to delegate playing time effectively.
“You never really see three talented guards like us on the same team. That’s Coach’s problem. He has to play us. He has to figure out how he’s going to play us,” he said.
“I don’t (worry about it) because I can play different ways. I can have the ball; I can not have the ball. It doesn’t really matter with me. I can play any way I like. I make adjustments (based on) who I’m on the floor with.”
Thomas is just one of 24 players in NBA history with a listed height of 5-foot-9 or shorter. But that hasn’t stopped him from being successful among the giants at the pro level or during his three years of collegiate ball at Washington, where he was a two-time All-Pac-10 First Team selection.
“I’ve always been short, so I’ve always had to figure out a way of how to finish around the rim,” he said. “It’s not easy, but I maneuver myself, I make adjustments in the air and I just try to use my height to my advantage when I’m down there.”
Thomas said he’s been able to practice with his new teammates just twice in the last three weeks due to an wrist injury — but he already recognizes there’s plenty of talent to go around on a Suns team that’s coming off a surprising 48-34 record in 2013-14.
“I still can’t tell the twins (forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris) apart, so I don’t know which one is which,” he joked. “But the twins, they’re talented. And then, Anthony Tolliver, he can shoot the ball so well.
“Gerald Green’s very talented — one of the most talented shooting guards in the NBA. We’ve got a talented group of guys. They work hard, and I can’t wait to get things started.”
The Suns narrowly missed the playoffs in an ultra-competitive Western Conference last season. Thomas said he’s eager to get going and help ensure that doesn’t happen again in 2014-15.
“I’m excited for a new chapter in my life,” he said. “I love competition, I love competing, and I think at the end of the day, that’s what it’s going to be about — making each other better, and making this team take the next step, which is the playoffs.
“Any way I can possibly help, I’m going to do that, and I’m going to do what they brought me in here for, and that’s just to be me, and that’s all I know. Hopefully that translates to more wins and us getting to the playoffs.”