Wednesday night (January 11th to be more specific), the entire basketball world got a little taste of something they may have been overlooking. Rather not something, but someone. Someone who you wouldn’t exactly use the word ‘big’ to describe. In fact, this someone has always been referred to as the exact opposite of ‘big.’ He’s consistently been labeled throughout his career as the best ‘little’ guy you could ask for.
Well, as you may have already guessed, that ‘little’ guy is Isaiah Thomas… and what he’s doing in the fourth quarters of games this season is nothing short of phenomenal. But before we get into that, let’s take a dive into his overall statistics on the season.
As of right now (I intend that to mean: at the time of me writing this, not in a literal sense of you reading it… now, back to the article) Thomas is tied with DeMar DeRozan as the leading scorer in the Eastern Conference with 28.2 points per game. He’s also tallied an impressive 6.1 assists per game, eighth in the East; averaged just under 38% from beyond the arc, fifth amongst point guards in the East; and maintained a 26.91 PER, ninth in the entire Association.
But that’s not even the crazy part.
When you compare Isaiah Thomas’ numbers with the statistics Allen Iverson put up at the age of 27 years -Thomas’ current age- you’ll find something quite interesting.
You already know Thomas’ numbers, so here’s Iverson’s: 27.6 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, 21.2 PER, all while shooting just under 28% from beyond the arc. It may also suit you to know that when Iverson was 27, he was averaging 42.5 minutes per game. Thomas on the other hand, has only seen 33.5 minutes per game.
So, yeah… Thomas has been pretty effective all season long. But his overall numbers are only part of why people like Kevin Garnett -who’s word does in fact carry weight in the NBA- legitimately believe that Isaiah Thomas is an MVP candidate. While Thomas made a guest appearance on Garnett’s show, “Area 21” KG didn’t hesitate to compliment the Celtic’s starting point guard. “I’ve got you in the conversation for MVP. What you do for your team is huge,” Garnett said. (If you think Garnett’s crazy, then you’ll think Isaiah Thomas is absolutely bonkers, because he places himself third in the MVP race.)
But like I said before, his overall numbers are only part of his argument for MVP. Where he really dominates is in the fourth quarter.
In his last game against the Washington Wizards, Isaiah Thomas absolutely went off. In just the fourth quarter, he managed to score an astounding 20 points, out of his 38 point total. For comparison, Jon Wall -whom Thomas was starting opposite against, and also happens to be an all-star- only managed to tally 9 points for the entire game.
Now, you could say that this was just an odd occurrence by an above-average player… a statistical anomaly of sorts. Nothing too out of the ordinary given how incredibly this season has played out for quite a few above-average players. No big deal, right?
Well if you were to assume that, you’d not only be wrong, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice. You’d be robbing yourself of the satisfaction of enjoying exactly what Isiah Thomas has been accomplishing during the fourth quarter of just about every game this season.
In the final 12 minutes of action, Thomas has averaged a league leading 9.9 points per game. According to Kevin O’Connor of ‘The Ringer,’ that’s the most by any player since 1996 (which is as far as the NBA Stats database goes, so it may be even more impressive a feat). To add-on, Thomas is also putting up an impressive 68 TS% and 41.9 PER, again this is all in the fourth quarter.
But if numbers aren’t enough, then it may do you well to remember that earlier this season Thomas set a franchise record against the Miami Heat for the most points scored in a given quarter, with 29 of his 52 points coming in the fourth quarter. There’s also this (this referring to Friday night’s game-winner over the Atlanta Hawks):
The King of the 4th! https://t.co/LD1Og1WmWc
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 14, 2017
So, yeah… all-in-all, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Isaiah Thomas isn’t as crazy as you may think for considering himself an MVP candidate. But at the very least, he’s more than earned his new nickname: “King of the Fourth.”