The Story of Isaiah Thomas
Article written by Dylan Devine (7/28/18)
As a five foot nine 185 pound Point Guard, Isaiah Thomas has had one of the most interesting stories in NBA history. Thomas played college ball for the Washington Huskies and elected to enter the 2011 NBA draft as a Junior. He was over looked by 29 teams and ended up being the last pick in the draft after being selected by the Sacramento Kings.
In his rookie season with the Kings, he averaged 11.5 PPG and 4.1 APG. His stats improved every season in Sacramento averaging 13.9 PPG and 4.0 APG in the 2012-13 season, then 20.3 PPG and 6.3 APG in the 2013-14 season. After his third season on the Kings Thomas was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the 2014 offseason. In Phoenix, Thomas was the second string Point Guard behind Eric Bledsoe and averaged 15.2 PPG and 3.7 APG off the bench. After spending less than one season on the Suns, Thomas was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2015.
Thomas quickly became Boston’s star player and was one of the most unstoppable offensive players in the league. In the 2015-16 season he averaged an at the time career high 22.2 PPG and 6.2 APG and led the Celtics to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They went on to be eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Thomas’s next season in Boston was without a doubt the best of his career upping his field goal and free-throw shooting percentages to a career high 46.3% and 90.9%, respectively while averaging 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG. He was in MVP talks all season and finished fifth in the race for winning the prestigious MVP award. Boston was the most surprising team that season as they finished the season with the number one seed in the Eastern Conference in front of the stacked Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
The playoffs that season ended up being really tough for Thomas. He tragically lost his sister during the first round of the playoffs and everyone expected him to struggle in the second round, but that was far from the truth. A day after returning from his sisters funeral he was in Boston for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and finished that game with 33 points and nine assists. Game two of that round was historic for Thomas and the Celtics. He scored 53 points (the second-highest total in Celtics playoff history) to help Boston win 129–119 in overtime and take a 2–0 lead against the Wizards. He became just the fifth Celtic ever to score 50 or more points in a postseason game. Boston moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Cavs in five games. Thomas was expected to be given a $150M max contract from Boston but the Celtics surprised the whole entire sports world when they traded Thomas, Jae Crowder and their 2018 first round pick to the Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving.
During the Eastern Conference Finals series Thomas suffered a bad right hip injury which was part of the reason why Boston felt the need to move him as it was a question whether or not he needed surgery. Thomas said in a recent interview with ESPN “People know that I’ve earned and deserved the max contract, and that’s the only reason why I didn’t get paid what I deserved. Because I got injured. I get that.” Prior to the start of the 2017-18 season the Cavaliers announced Thomas would miss a majority of the season to fully rehab his hip to hopefully avoid surgery. He ended up playing just 15 games on the Cavaliers and when he returned he looked like a completely different player and not in a good way. He averaged 14.7 PPG and 4.5 APG in Cleveland before being traded just hours before the trade deadline to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In L.A he averaged 15.6 PPG and 5.0 APG. Thomas went from being an MVP candidate and looking like a top Point Guard in the league in Boston, to just being just an average player. He went on to get a league minimum one-year $2M contract from the Denver Nuggets. “I’m not worried about starting or coming off the bench now. I’m worried about playing well and showing the world who I am again. Once the people see that I can play — and play at a high level still they won’t be able to deny me next summer. They won’t be able to deny what I bring on the court and off the court for an organization.”
Thomas averaged just 15.1 minutes per game for the Nuggets and averaged a career low 8.1 PPG. He finished the 2018-19 season with the Nuggets but ended up signing with the Washington Wizards in the 2019 off-season. Thomas continued to struggle while on the Wizards and we did not see too much improvement from him stats wise. During the 2019-20 season he was traded from Washington to the Los Angeles Clippers, who waived him two days later. Thomas has not played a single game in the NBA since being waived by the Clippers.
Last month it was announced that Thomas would be playing for USA Men’s Americup Qualifying team. Thomas ended up balling out for Team USA. He started at PG in both USA games averaging 21 MPG, 14.0 PPG, and 2.5 APG while shooting 43.5% from the field and 50.0% from behind the arc. “I’m moving like I did before the injury, and that was the biggest thing I wanted to show people—that I didn’t lose a step. I’m still quick and fast. I’m still powerful. I’m able to move again.” Thomas said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.
IMO it is just a matter of time before an NBA team picks up Thomas. He is one of the best available free agent players out there. He is hungrier then ever and is ready to prove the haters wrong. IT4 is one of my favorite basketball players ever and I will always support him no matter where he goes or what he does. I hope to see him back in the league real soon.