With the 5-feet-9 All-Star doing amazing things on the floor, the Boston Celtics seem to have found the player that can again make them an equal title contender.
When the 27-year-old guard was traded to his current team in 2015, he was considered a decent player that was part of Boston’s rebuilding process.
Fast forward to today, Thomas is constantly proving he can become Danny Ainge’s (Boston’s GM) best acquisition since the creation of the “Big-Three” (Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett).
After a series of amazing performances last season, the 5-feet-9 player keeps on playing at very high standards, as he is already considered an MVP candidate.
Averaging 28.2 points and 6.1 assists per game, Thomas has transformed the Boston Celtics into Cleveland Cavaliers’ biggest threat for a place in the NBA Finals.
With 11 wins in the last 14 matches, Boston has climbed to the third place in the Eastern Conference (24-15 record) and seems ready to challenge both the Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors for the first place in the regular season.
Under young, but very talented, coach Brad Stevens, and with the return to action of the All-Star forward, Al Horford, the squad looks ready to further improve their performance and fight tooth and nail for the coveted title.
After almost seven years (2010, the Celtics’ last appearance in the NBA Finals), the team is consisted of players than can be very productive on both ends of the floor and, most importantly, (can) play great basketball alongside Thomas.
The versatile skills of Marcus Smart, Horford, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder have helped the 27-year-old All-Star entirely focus on being tremendous offensively, as the aforementioned players cover Thomas’ defensive weakness.
On December 30, the latter dropped a career-high 52 points (15/26 from the field, 9/13 from deep and 13/13 from the line) to lead his squad to a difficult victory against the Miami Heat (117-114), also scoring 29 of Boston’s 35 points in the fourth quarter, setting a new franchise record for points in a quarter.
In the last 14 games, Thomas has been extraordinary, not only due to his incredible numbers (having 44 points against the Grizzles and 15 assists against the Utah Jazz), but also thanks to his amazing ability to be a game changer for the Celtics.
More specifically, he’s second in the league in fourth-quarter scoring, with only Russell Westbrook being better than him, while he is the top point scorer in the entire Eastern Conference.
Above all, he has become the ideal clutch player, who takes over when everything is on the line for his squad and scores crucial points to lead his team-mates to the victory.
Against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, Thomas exploded in the fourth quarter and scored 20 of his 38 points to give his team the 117-108 win at home.
Despite his accomplishments, though, there has been a debate, during the last few months, on whether the impressive point-guard deserves to sign a maximum contract with the Celtics or Ainge should change his plans and either trade him or sign an elite star to play alongside him.
What I think is that Boston should make no changes to the current roster and let Thomas and his team-mates do their best to bring the squad back to the top.
Thanks to their consistent play in the past few weeks, and with coach Stevens having found the ideal line-up that can make the difference in every game, the Celtics’ current target is to prove they can beat the best teams in the league.
In spite of their loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night (114-106), Boston still have many games to play against the league’s elite teams, so they will certainly have more opportunities to prove they can again be considered title contenders, with Thomas as the leader.
Moreover, the acquisition of another top player (e.g Brook Lopez, Paul Millsap, Nikola Vucevic, among others), before the end of the trade deadline in February, will probably be beneficial for the team offensively, however it may also lead to a redistribution of the players’ roles in the rotation, which, undoubtedly, will not be for the better.
Consequently, I think it’s vital for Ainge to let the squad continue that way until the end of the season, when he will have the time to decide on whether he will make Isaiah Thomas the franchise player.
Until then, the 27-year-old All-Star proves he has a career year and should certainly be considered the Celtics’ undisputed leader in their effort to return to the top of the NBA.
*Images from: bleacherreport.net, inquisitr.com, rantsports.com