The 2011 draft has produced some of the best current players in the NBA with the likes of: Kyrie Irving, Kahwi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, and many others. “Mr. Irrelevant” is the nickname given to the last selection of the NFL draft, but there’s nothing irrelevant about the last pick of the 2011 NBA draft, Isaiah Thomas. Thomas stands about 5’9 on a good day, making him one of the shortest player in the NBA compared to Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kay Felder who stands 5’9 as well. Although Thomas has not grown much in height over the years, he has matured into a better basketball player. Helping the Boston Celtics solidify themselves as the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the season coming to a close in the coming weeks, the Celtics are in prime position to take over the No.1 seed from the Cavaliers with being only a game behind them in the standings. With what started as a dream come true, let’s analyze how the biggest little guy in the league has generated an impact in the NBA.
Finding the right fit:
Thomas was originally drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2011, starting 153 out of 216 games during his tenure there while averaging 15.3 points per game overall. Thomas wasn’t named a starter until halfway through the lockout shortened season, but his impact was felt. Thomas posted a then career high 28 points in a loss against the San Antonio Spurs, a championship contender at the time. Thomas would mature over the years and showed promise as a guy who can overcome adversity and be a key contributor to the team. Thomas would average 20.3 points and 6.3 assist in his final season with Sacramento resulting in him being traded to the Phoenix Suns. Sounding like a key addition at the time, the Suns were top-heavy with point guards, having six players at the same position once Thomas was acquired. Thomas proved to be the odd man out in Phoenix, he was dealt again to the Boston Celtics midway through the season, proving to be the most beneficial move of his career. With only 19 games in Boston that season, Thomas averaged 22.2 points and 4.6 assist per game. Most importantly he played a major role in the Celtics earning a playoff berth against the Cavaliers, they were swept but it’s all good. Thomas was cemented into an organization that was set to go as far as he would take them.
Building Around the IT Guy:
The 2015-2016 season was Thomas’ first complete season in Boston, and his impact as a leader was felt. Coupled with defensive-minded sharpshooter Avery Bradley, again the Celtics were lead to the playoffs but not as the seventh seed, but rising to the fifth facing the Atlanta Hawks. They gave Atlanta a battle, winning back to back games in games 3&4 in Boston only to be taken out in six games. Thomas showed up providing 24 points and 5 assists per game in the series, but that wasn’t enough, he wanted to contend for a championship. The Celtics provided Thomas with some extra assistance by acquiring Al Hereford in the offseason, priming the Celtics with a “Big 3” by combining Hereford, Thomas and Bradley. Labeling them as not just a contender in the Eastern Conference, but for a championship in the 2016-2017 season.
Coming Up Large When Needed
It’s ironic that the smallest player on the team brings the most to table in big moments. Thomas comes alive in the fourth quarter as he averages 10 points in the quarter and shooting lights out from the field at 47%. Yes, he makes last second shots too, but the entire fourth quarter is crunch time. But it doesn’t stop there, against top competition this season Thomas has been unbelievable. In two games against the defending champion Cavaliers, Thomas has dropped 31 points twice while splitting the season series. The latest game on March 1 103-99; proving that they can run with the big dog in the Eastern Conference. Thomas has one goal in mind this season, leading the Celtics back to the championship. Currently as the No.2 seed the Celtics would face the Indiana Pacers lead by all-star forward Paul George, if they can take the No.1 seed from the Cavaliers they will face the Miami Heat. Regardless, the Celtics should make it out of the first round. With the possible matchup with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals looming near, can the little guy come up big enough to lead the Celtics to a championship? Only time will tell for Thomas and the Celtics, it will definitely be interesting.