It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Isaiah Thomas, just scroll down my Twitter. I’ve been saying it all year -- Isaiah should finally be taken seriously as a true star. He’s having a better season than the player who was taken on the complete opposite side of the draft big board. I think it is pretty fair to compare the two players.
In the 2011 draft, a guard out of Duke named Kyrie Irving went first overall to the Cavaliers. At the time of the draft, it would’ve sounded crazy to compare the player drafted first overall to the least relevant player in the draft. Kyrie has steadily become one of the premiere guards in the league and in 2014, was rewarded with a huge extension to stay in Cleveland. Paired with Lebron James, Kyrie would help the Cavs win an NBA championship in year 2 of the big 3 era with Kevin Love.
In 2015, Isaiah was now on his second NBA team and was battling Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe for minutes in the Sun's backcourt. At the deadline, Phoenix held a fire sale and sent Thomas to the Celtics for a first round pick. At the time, it was believed that Isaiah would be the Celtics 6th man. He embraced this role until Marcus Smart got hurt and lost the starting job early in the 2015-16 season. Isaiah has not looked back since he got his chance. In fact, his legend continues to grow.
As of today, IT is averaging more points per game and assists per game than who? None other than Kyrie Irving. Irving does, however, get the nod over Thomas in rebounds per game (Kyrie has 4 inches on IT). It is incredible that the player picked last in the draft has better stats than the player taken first. One reason for this is Isaiah is the Celtics number one offensive weapon. Don’t believe me; look at his fourth quarter stats. IT is leading the NBA in fourth quarter scoring with 9.9 points per game. Russell Westbrook is just behind “The Little Guy,” so again, IT is in good company. Back to Irving, the Cavs have a guy named Lebron James on their team, so Kyrie does not need to carry the same offensive load as Isaiah.
So what’s next for Isaiah? I believe that Isaiah is a championship piece for the Boston Celtics. When his deal runs out at the end of the 2018 season, the Celtics and GM Danny Ainge will be forced to give him a max contract. As Isaiah says, “They better bring out the brinks truck.” If he continues to perform at this level, than I think he’s worth every penny. Still though, this Celtics team as its currently constructed is not good enough to get past Cleveland. They aren’t even better than Toronto as currently constituted. So now what?
What if the Celtics were able to trade for say, Boggie Cousins? Cousins has established himself as one of the premiere bigs in the NBA. If the Celtics could muster a trade with Sacramento centered on the 2 remaining Brooklyn picks, I do that trade every time. I would also be willing to trade anyone short of IT and Al Horford. Isaiah has to be given some of the credit for where this team is now and it would be a very bad look to trade the biggest free agent signing in recent Celtics history. With Cousins on this team, the Celtics could take Cleveland to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. You know what they say about Game 7: anything can happen.
If NBA executives could have a redo at the 2011 draft, I highly doubtful that IT gets drafted last again. I am definitely reaching with this tweet, but it’s going down the right path:
by Matt Nadworny