As a short person, this author has enjoyed observing Isaiah Thomas‘s resurgence on the Wizards. Seeing IT survive and thrive in the NBA gives all of us undersized ballers hope. Thomas has been serviceable as a starter on one of the worst teams in the NBA. Can it last? And will he be able to collect some scratch for his efforts in the coming offseason?
After being drafted by the Kings with the 60th pick in 2011, Thomas put up impressive numbers for several bottom-feeding Sacramento teams. Thomas next inked a four-year, $27MM contract with the Suns in a 2014 sign-and-trade. The Suns, in the great point guard trade deadline bonanza of 2015, shipped Thomas to the Celtics. By his second full season in Boston, the 5’9″ point guard was the leader of the East’s 53-win No. 1 seed. He averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 boards. Then it all came crumbling down when a nagging hip injury knocked Thomas out of the playoffs. Boston GM Danny Ainge traded Thomas to the Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving, and Thomas has never been the same.
Last season, Thomas disappointed on the 54-win Nuggets. He played just 12 games before coach Mike Malone excised him from the rotation, averaging 8.1 points per night at a paltry 34.3% field goal clip. He also shot just 27.9% from long range on 3.6 attempts. Even in those 12 games, Thomas was always a bench player, averaging only 15.1 minutes per contest.
This season, on a Wizards squad without John Wall for most or all of the season, Thomas has managed to scrap his way back into the starting five. As of this writing, he is averaging 13.2 points per game and 6.2 assists in just 22.7 minutes per contest. Thomas is also shooting a decent 42.9% from the floor and 36.4% from three-point range on 5.5 attempts per game.
So now we open this question up to the Hoops Rumors community. Is Isaiah truly “back?” First, it’s imperative to define what we mean by “back.” Thomas may never scale the heights of being an All-Star, let alone a legitimate MVP candidate. He finished fifth in 2017 MVP voting. But Thomas hasn’t even been able to sniff steady minutes on an NBA roster since the 2017/18 season, where he bounced between the Cavaliers and the Lakers.
After two straight years on veteran’s minimum contracts, will Thomas stay healthy long enough to parlay his play this season into a multi-year deal in 2020? That’s how I would quantify him being “back.” I think the answer to that question, by the way, is “Yes.” If Derrick Rose can extract a $15MM, two-year deal from the Pistons in 2019, Thomas should do something similar in 2020.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.