It’s no secret that Isaiah Thomas has developed into one of the best point guards in the league, starting with his trade to the Boston Celtics on Feb. 19, 2015.
Since then, the 5-foot-9 point guard has garnered league-wide respect and the hearts of Celtics fans everywhere, as well as two trips to the All-Star game.
Coming off a career-high average 28.9 points per game, as well as knocking down over 90 percent of his free throw attempts, the Washington University product also racked up just a hair under six dimes a game, without any other consistent scorer on the team.
With the signing of Gordon Hayward, Boston finally has a legitimate second option. However, as we’ve all heard, stars put up better numbers when there’s no one else to share the rock with which Russell Westbrook proved to a T last season. By default, this should correlate to Thomas scoring less and having the spotlight on him dimmed from a PPG perspective.
That said, Thomas should continue to have incredible seasons. Yes, he may drop to 25-26 points, but he will trade that out in falling back to a more true point guard role by being able to dish it to Hayward for assists, which should in theory bump him up one to two more assists.
In fact, the best is yet to come for Thomas. With the trade of Avery Bradley, who was the second leading scorer for the Celtics in 2016-17 with 16.3 points per game, more opportunities for Thomas and Hayward are coming as they will be the vast majority of coach Brad Steven’s playbook. Having someone else as a threat along Thomas opens so many options to get one of the two open, and when in doubt, Al Horford is always a scoring threat in the paint.
Overall, Thomas has an opportunity for this upcoming campaign to be the best of his career. He is sparring against a weak Eastern Conference with players including Paul George, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and more all moving out one way or another to the West. He also has full confidence from his coaching staff and teammates to run the floor, as well as a great player alongside him in contrast to any other time in his career as a starting player.
Even though he may score a fewer points, his impact will be as strong as ever in leading his teammates to victory night in and night out. He truly has a must-win mentality, proven by his lights-out performances late in games. Whatever happens in terms of personal statistics won’t matter, the only numbers with any meaning for Thomas are the wins column, and those certainly won’t be taking any hits.