Reason #3: Isaiah Thomas gets to the free-throw line
Only 14% of the Lakers points come from the free-throw line, which ranks in the bottom ten of all NBA offenses. Free-throws are the best way to get easy baskets while also slowing down the opponent’s offense.
The Lakers offense struggles mightily for several minutes each game in part because they are often unable to get the free-throw line. They can benefit greatly from someone who can consistently get to the free-throw line.
Isaiah Thomas draws shooting fouls like melted ice cream draws ants on a hot day. As ESPN color commentator Richard Jefferson pointed out towards the end of the first half in the Minnesota game, smaller guards like Thomas draw more favorable whistles from the officials.
How favorable? Thomas was 7-9 from the free-throw line against Minnesota. While on the Boston Celtics, he ranked in the top 20 in free-throws attempted per game three times.
This season, Anthony Davis is the only Laker who ranks in the top 20 in free-throws attempted per game – and AD is only ranked #20!
Thomas can also inspire LeBron James and Russell Westbrook to start attacking the basket with as much fervor as they had in the past.
During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, then-Cleveland Head Coach (and current Clippers Head Coach) Tyronn Lue slammed the NBA for how LeBron James was treated by officials.
"“He never gets calls,” Lue said. “I mean, he attacks. Outside of Russell Westbrook, he’s one of the guys that attacks the paint every single play."
Lue cannot say the same thing about this season’s Lakers. LeBron, Thomas, AD, and Westbrook ranked in the top 15 in free-throw attempts per game in the 2015-16 season.
Lakers veterans Dwight Howard (12th), Deandre Jordan (3rd), and Carmelo Anthony (21st) also drew a lot of shooting fouls that season.
At the very least, Isaiah Thomas can inspire LA to get to the free-throw line more often.
Conclusion: The Lakers need Isaiah Thomas
Allow me to state the obvious: Isaiah Thomas is a defensive liability. Due to his height and his long injury history, Thomas should not be expected to even be a good defender.
But he is a far bigger asset on offense than he is a liability on defense. The Lakers are not going to win the championship as presently constructed.
So why not take a chance on Isaiah Thomas?