Isaiah Thomas hasn’t played since signing with the Nuggets over the summer, but he is having a huge impact on the team, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Thomas has become a mentor to younger players and a vocal leader on an otherwise quiet team.
“To have his voice in our locker room, to help some of these younger guys out, it takes a lot of load off myself,” said Paul Millsap, the only other player on Denver’s roster older than 30.
Thomas expects to return soon from a lingering hip injury and hopes to re-establish himself after a nightmarish 2017/18 season that began with a trade out of Boston, where had become a fan favorite and an MVP candidate. He missed his first two months in Cleveland, then took the blame for the team’s defensive and chemistry problems when he did start playing. The Cavaliers shipped him to the Lakers, who elected not to re-sign him when the season ended.
“For my wife and my family, it’s definitely been difficult,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, I’m human. I’ve been three places in less than one year, so it’s like, I’m tired of moving.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Mason Plumlee‘s teammate’s consider him the NBA’s “most underrated player,” Singer relays in a separate story. Although his stats aren’t impressive, Plumlee leads the Nuggets in field goal percentage, takes the toughest assignments on defense and is an important part of a bench unit that is tied for the second-highest plus-minus rating in the league. Coach Michael Malone believes Plumlee should be considered as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, even though the award usually goes to big scorers.
- Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose also wants to be considered for the Sixth Man award, according to Chris Pine of The Star Tribune. The former MVP has settled into a reserve role since coming to Minnesota and is averaging 19.3 points per game while shooting a career high .494 from 3-point territory. “I would like winning Sixth Man of the Year,” Rose said. “I don’t think that’s anything bad to say or a bad goal with me coming off the bench. I want to be the best bench player.”
- Adding Robert Covington and Dario Saric in the Jimmy Butler trade has turned the Timberwolves into a much better rebounding team, Pine notes in the same story. Since the deal, Minnesota has upped its defensive rebounding percentage from 67% to 73%.