Community Shootaround: Is Isaiah Thomas “Back”?

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.

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14 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Is Isaiah Thomas “Back”?

  1. paindonthurt

    I think he’s a veterans minimum or slightly above player for the rest of his career. The injury history is too glaring

  2. Curtisrowe

    I mean, no. He was averaging 29 points a game a few years ago. He doesn’t have the same speed or explosives.

  3. No he’s not going to ever be the same player he once was just like how DRoss will never be the same player but DRose has turned into a good player still.

    I think Isiah Thomas if he continues to play well can turn into the player he was at the Suns, 15/4/3. I can’t see him ever turning back into his 2017 self who averaged 29/6/3.
    Plus I don’t think he will get the opportunity to get back to that level either, he’s not young anymore, he’s got injury history and your not going to find a franchise that’ll want to build around that like the Celtics did.

    The league is full of 3 types of PGs, the elite with Kyrie, Kemba, Curry, Russ etc, the old guys (some start, some okay off bench) DRose, Dragic, Thomas, Teague etc and then the young guys (some start and have high upside, some play bench cause of some kind of setback) Trae Young, Fultz, Ball, DSJ etc.

    Teams only want to build around the first group or the last group of it seems upside that you can get into that first group. If your in that middle group your very expendable. People only want cheap production from you and I’m sorry IT, you’ve been trying to prove people wrong and earn that bag of $$ for years but your not going to get it.

        • SheaGoodbye

          I think Russ is the type of player that can make a bad team decent, but also the type of player that you can’t win a championship with.

          Needless to say, I agree with you.

      • Yeah when I wrote it I thought it was debatable but I just said bugger it. I don’t like him or his game, he’s a trash shooter, steals rebounds, is kinda average/below average on defence, all he is elite at driving to the rim off a fast break.

  4. x%sure

    IT still shoots well and I did not much notice his (lack of) defense.
    I would call him “back” because I thought he was finished. But, probably belongs on a weak team.

  5. Reflect

    He is now a solid player but he’s not a starting PG on a real team. I’d still take Rose over him.

  6. Just hope he does well whatever that is, gave me some memorable moments at his own expense

  7. There’s always a group of players that fall off for whatever reason and everyone just wishes the best for them. Lonzo Ball DRose IT Fultz all come to mind. You just want them to do well. You wish for the best but don’t have much faith

  8. Verlander2TheQuickening

    I’m a Celtics fan & as far as I’m concerned, IT is a legend. He may never get back to MVP levels, but I still think he can be a steady minutes guy on a team that can manage for his health. It makes me very happy to see him playing effectively again. The league is more fun with IT in it.

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