AS I watched the video of Isaiah Thomas hitting a deep three to give him 50 points and in turn push the Celtics to a 111-106 lead against Miami, I knew. That was the turning point. That was when I stopped saying that Boston needed a superstar or a franchise player. They have him already.
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ALL off-season, in fact for the better part of 18 months I had gone on the record applauding the structure of the Boston Celtics lineup, but wished they would get a superstar/franchise player. Jimmy Butler, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook were rumoured to join the team, but to no avail. They even ‘settled’ for bringing in Al Horford through free agency, who was a nice piece, but again not a superstar.
IT’S nothing new for Thomas though. Standing at 5’9 he has been counted out his entire career. Deemed short in most common circles, let alone the profession in which he weaves in and out of giants, Thomas was never meant to make it this far. After a successful college career with the Washington Huskies, Thomas was taken with the very last pick of the 2011 NBA draft. Heading into the draft it was unclear whether he would be drafted at all, and after he was picked some scouts and personalities had labelled him as irrelevant.
ROBERT Sacre (2012), Jānis Timma (2013), Cory Jefferson (2014), Luka Mitrović (2015) and Tyrone Wallace (2016) have been the last five players selected 60th overall, and with respect to Sacre, none of those five careers has amounted to much. Thomas hasn’t let that selection define him though, instead, he used it as extra motivation to continually drive for success.
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HE has drawn comparisons to other high-octane, vertically challenged pro’s Nat Robinson and Allen Iverson, partly due to his aggressive scoring mentality but it also ties in with his ability to play bigger than his height. The ‘heart on his sleeve’ passion which defines his style of play makes Thomas a likeable character and a fan favourite.
THAT style has grown tenfold since he was traded to the storied Celtics franchise from Phoenix in 2015, a move that Thomas himself has said saved his career. He was finally wanted and needed, with Boston lacking an offensive scoring punch that Thomas instantly provided, initially off the bench, and now as a starter.
HIS 52 points against Miami on the 30th of December included a franchise-record 29 in the 4th quarter. He followed that up by recording a career-high 15 assists against Utah in his next game and is currently averaging the 5th most points in the league at 28 a night. Those aren’t numbers that the last pick in the NBA draft puts up, regardless of his height.
I was just one voice on a massive list of doubters, who were unsure whether Thomas could actually maintain All-Star calibre play and let’s be honest, no one saw this level of dominance coming. Thomas continues to lead the Celtics towards an inevitable playoff run and will most likely be picked for his 2nd straight All-Star game this year. Not bad for an ‘irrelevant guy’. My bad IT. Respect.
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