At 5’9″, Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas might be slight of stature for NBA standards, but this doesn’t mean that he cannot ball. In three years collegiately with the Washington Huskies, Thomas helped them reach the NCAA Tournament in each season, while also being a two-time Pac-10 Tournament MVP. Thomas would be the final pick of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings as he went 60th overall, and in his rookie season he would average 11.5 points per game. By Thomas’ third season with the Kings, he was averaging 20.3 points and 6.3 assists. But Sacramento was ready to give up on Thomas as in July 2014, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns.
In 46 games with the Suns during the 2014-2015 NBA season, Thomas would average 15.2 points per game. But Thomas would only make one start for the Suns due to the fact that they had a very crowded back court. However Thomas would get a reprieve as just prior to the NBA’s trade deadline in 2015, he was sent to the Celtics. And the Celtics have been able to do something that the Kings nor Suns could not do which was to give Thomas a home in the NBA.
Thomas would appear in 21 games that season for the Celtics as he would average 19 points and 5.4 assists while coming off of their bench. But last season Celtics head coach Brad Stevens decided to make the move to put Thomas into the starting lineup and it worked.
Thomas averaged 22.2 points, 6.2 assists, and 3 rebounds in helping Boston reach the playoffs. Thomas showed the Celtics that he could be a building block for them, but no one could have envisioned what he would be doing this season.
This season Thomas is averaging 29.7 points per game which is second in the NBA to go along with 6.4 assists and he is a big reason why the Celtics currently find themselves in first place in the Atlantic Division. Thomas is also flirting with doing something that no other Celtics player has done in the history of this illustrious franchise which is to average 30 points per game for an entire season. And for all of those who have overlooked Thomas on his basketball journey, he is proving his worth while playing on the big stage, in a big market, on a big franchise.
Thomas has not scored less than 18 points in any games this season as he has been in the zone. On December 20, Thomas scored 44 points in a 112-109 win over the Memphis Grizzlies and he would finish out the month by dropping 52 points on the Miami Heat. The new calendar year has not seen Thomas slow down as for the month of January he averaged 32.9 points per contest which included him dropping 41 points and 8 assists on the Detroit Pistons this past Monday during the Celtics 113-109. Thomas would go on to be named as the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Month for January. And when the Celtics needed Thomas the most, he was front and center this past Wednesday against the Raptors when he got them for 44 points and 7 assists as Boston overtook Toronto for the top spot in the division.
Slowly but steadily the Celtics brain trust of Stevens and president of basketball operations/general manager Danny Ainge are developing Boston into a title contender with Thomas as one of the key pieces. There are rumors that the Celtics could go after Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent due to his familiarity with Stevens whom he played under collegiately with the Butler Bulldogs as he could potentially form a nice duo with Thomas in Beantown. Boston also has the right to swap first-round picks with the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft. And that is money in the bank for the Celtics as the Nets currently have the worst record in the league which could lead to the top pick in the draft Boston. The Celtics will also receive the Nets first-round pick outright next year which gives them the opportunity to build a dominant team which is enticing to potential free agents and Thomas alike.
Thomas is under contract with the Celtics through next season and they’ve gotten off light as he is only earning a little north of $6 million over the next two seasons, but he should be cashing in real soon.
What makes Thomas so tough to defend is that he is a versatile player. Thomas is not afraid to drive to the basket in order to mix it up with the bigger players, and he’s also shooting close to 39% from behind the three-point line. Thomas has scrapped and clawed to get to where he currently is at and the sports fans in Beantown can relate to that.
At first when the Celtics acquired Thomas, he appeared that he would merely be with the franchise for a cup of coffee. But in a very short stretch Thomas has turned into a franchise player for Boston, while making Ainge look like a genius for acquiring him from the Suns. Thomas is heading to his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance later this month. And although that Thomas was snubbed as he won’t be starting in the contest, he’ll still make his presence known as one of the league’s most dynamic players.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Houston Rockets point guard James Harden are garnering most of the interest as far as being the NBA’s MVP this season. But if Thomas continues on the pace that he’s currently on, it will be impossible to not have his name included in the discussion as well.