We’ve got to be getting close, right?
From 2015 to 2017, in 21 Playoff starts, Isaiah Thomas averaged 23.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. During the ’16-’17 Boston playoff run, the one in which he injured the hip that he’s still working to recover from, Thomas was the best player on the floor most nights, some nights even when he was on the floor with LeBron James.
Thomas’ playoff performance, particularly in light of personal tragedy with the loss of his sister was compelling and spectacular and for just a moment, made me a Celtics supporter. He was that good.
We are mostly familiar with the story, a rushed return to action after being traded to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving set Thomas back and caused a rift with the Cavaliers. Traded to the Lakers, Thomas continued to try to fight through his injury before finally shutting it down. Denver signed Thomas to a vet minimum deal before the start of this season with the commitment that there was no timeframe or expectation for his return.
Thomas has made the most of his latest opportunity, rehabilitating his injury on his terms and without external pressure, he’s been a vocal leader for the Nuggets and the ultimate teammate. He’s a steady voice for Jamal Murray and Monte Morris and is beloved in the locker room.
This is all wonderful news for the Nuggets but for fans, it is time to see Thomas on the court. The injury to Jamal Murray’s ankle illustrates the need for depth at the point. As solid and surprising as Morris has been, he is a rookie and has already played more games this season than he ever has. Morris is surely up to the task but that doesn’t mean we need to ask that of him. The two point guard bench should give Thomas ample time to work back in without any demand on minutes.
Again, Thomas’ return, touted by none other than Isaiah himself, should be imminent and was projected for the week before the break. That time is approaching and if Thomas is able to return, there’s not a trade Denver could make that brings a bigger impact.
So, we have the roster we need, what else can Denver do to shore up their standing for the run to the playoffs?