Will Isaiah Thomas’ resurgence with Washington Wizards lead to long-sought payday?

Washington Wizards Isaiah Thomas (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Isaiah Thomas (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Now with the Washington Wizards, Isaiah Thomas has a chance to demonstrate the value he can bring. Can he finally secure a substantial paycheck and consistent spot on a team?

Since the end of the 2016-17 NBA season ended, a year during which Isaiah Thomas averaged 28.9 point and 5.9 assists per game with a 46.3 percent field-goal percentage per game for the Boston Celtics, the 5’9″ point guard — now with the Washington Wizards — who weathered tragedy, injury, and adversity has not returned to his dominant play just yet.

Thomas spent over two years taking on a challenging recovery from a labral tear in his hip, an injury sustained during Game 2 of the Celtics’ Eastern Conference Finals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thomas’ complex hip injury kept him on the sidelines for much of his past two seasons.

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In 2017-18 and 2018-19, Thomas played in just 44 games. He averaged 15.2 points per game during 2017-18, playing in a total of 32 matchups as a member of both the Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

But Thomas only saw 12 games of playing time with the Denver Nuggets. He spent most of the season recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right hip, an injury dating from his previous year with the Lakers.

Thomas returned to play once more on Feb. 13, playing in a 120-118 Nuggets victory over the Sacramento Kings. This marked his first appearance in an NBA game in just under 11 months.

Though Thomas was a vocal leader in Denver’s locker room and an important mentor to young players on the roster, he only played 11 more games after this contest and was kept inactive during the postseason.

Thomas has walked down an arduous path to reach an opportunity for him to play a significant role on a team once again. Bearing in mind his trials and tribulations, Thomas is performing at a respectable level once again, this time on a young Wizards team in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

Over 14 games played in 2019-20, 11 in which he’s been a starter, Thomas has averaged 12.0 points and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 39.7 percent on 4.9 3-point attempts a night. His 3-point accuracy is at a career-high pace, improving from 37.9 percent as a rookie in 2011-12 and again in 2016-17.

Ideally, Thomas will continue converting 3s at this clip throughout the season.

Considering that he’s playing well once again and receiving ample opportunity to do so, this encouraging sign will hopefully encourage the Wizards to take Thomas up on becoming a consistent contributor; that is if another team does not get Thomas’ signature on a contract next offseason.

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Clearly, Thomas is a capable contributor and can be an effective mentor and leader for any team that he’s playing for. Time will tell if his playing level continues to be constant or if he will refine his contributions to reach the dominant level of play he showcased during his 2016-17 campaign.

For now, three elements remain certain. IT is healthy, he’s performing reasonably well on the court and he finally “has his joy back” as a player.

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What the future may hold is uncertain. But if Thomas can keep up his good work, the sky’s the limit.