Isaiah Thomas on Phoenix Suns’ point guards: ‘I don’t think you can guard all three of us at the same time’
It’s hard not to look at the Phoenix Suns’ roster with both a smile and a question.
The team is young — very young — and has rebounded from a sluggish start to put itself right into the mix for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Yet, at the same time, the Suns have a glut of point guards, with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas all being deserving of more minutes than they are receiving.
Be that as it may, something has changed with the team over the last month or so, with all three guards playing well and, often times, together.
It has led to wins and a different perspective on the team and its makeup.
“Everybody is kind of getting kind of a consistent rotation, guys know when they’re really going to come in and play and who they’re going to play with,” Thomas told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “I think everybody’s just getting comfortable with everybody and we’re hitting the stride right now.”
And not a moment too soon, as the Suns are currently in the midst of a franchise-record 8-game homestand. They won the first three against Cleveland, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Lakers, but the next five are all against teams that as of right now would be in the playoffs.
But the Suns, who are 25-18 overall but 22-13 with Dragic, Thomas and Bledsoe all healthy and playing, appear to be more than up to the task ahead of them.
The guards just needed time to gel, and Thomas said it started to come together after the team’s six-game losing streak in early December.
“It was tough and then coach made a few changes and we started playing more and more together,” Thomas said. “And that’s basically what I signed her for, to play with those other two guards and to cause havoc on both ends of the floor with playing with Goran and Bledsoe.
“So I think even if we play more and more, even though we are small, it’s going to give us that advantage because on the offensive end guys have to pick and choose who they’re going to stop.”
The guards account for three of the Suns’ top for scorers, with Dragic’s 17.0 per game leading the way and being followed by Bledsoe’s 16.4 and Thomas’ 14.6. They’re combining for nearly 14 assists and 3.5 steals per night, too.
Indeed, when they’re all on the floor at the same time, it puts a strain on the defense.
“It’s nice, it’s fun,” Thomas said of playing together. “We’re definitely playing as fast as possible with us three on the floor. It makes it easier for all three of us because one guy can bring it up and the other guys can run the lanes, and we don’t all have to have the ball to be effective.
“We can play off each other and once again, it makes it tough for the defense because they’ve got to pick and choose who they want to stop and who they want to guard, and I don’t think you can guard all three of us at the same time.”
That’s not to say it has been an easy process. Last season, in Sacramento, Thomas averaged 20.3 points while playing nearly 35 minutes per game, mostly as a starter. He has come off the bench in all 35 games he has played as a Sun, taking fewer shots and scoring less. Thomas admitted the adjustment to his role with team has been “difficult at times.”
“I’m not going to say it it’s perfect right now, but it’s definitely difficult,” he said. “But at the same time you’ve just got to try to put your ego aside and do what’s best for the team. When we’re out there we’re just trying to make the right play each and every time down and go off what we read, because we’re all point guards that can make plays for ourselves and for our teammates.
“We’re just trying to do the best possible job we can do.”
It can be difficult, Thomas added, sometimes to have to sit and watch from the bench, but it’s all about what works best for the team.
And that, he noted, can be difficult.
“No doubt — you can ask any athlete that, they might give you a political answer, but it’s tough, it’s hard,” he said. “But at the same time, if your mindset is on winning and doing what’s best for the team, you’ve got to put it aside and try to do the best you possibly can do that.
“It’s definitely easier said than done.”