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Why Isaiah Thomas Was Rightfully Selected Into The All-Star Game

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The coaches got it right by voting Isaiah Thomas into this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

On June 23 of 2011, hundreds of basketball prospects eagerly waited for their names to be called during the NBA Draft. One college standout from the University of Washington unfortunately had to wait until the end of the draft before hearing his name called. 

With the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Isaiah Thomas from the University of Washington,” said current NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

The last pick in the draft, a title commonly referred to as ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ went to the competitive 5‘9” guard with the ability to score from just about anywhere on the court.

I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder and tried to prove people wrong,” Thomas said about being the final pick. “That just made the chip a little bigger.”

Well, that chip has come a long way because the former last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft and current member of the Boston Celtics has just been selected as an Eastern Conference reserve for the upcoming NBA All-Star Game. Thomas is only the ninth player in league history under six feet to make an All-Star team and the second player at his height or smaller to make the All-Star Game, per ESPN. Additionally, he is the lowest draft pick to ever make an All-Star Game since the NBA went to two rounds in 1989.

Even though Thomas had been an underdog his entire life, the decision to send him to the All-Star Game was an easy one to make. 

The NBA All-Star reserves were chosen by the league’s 30 head coaches. These coaches are well aware of the fact that Thomas is now the face of the Celtics, as well as one the most difficult guards to contain in the Eastern Conference. This is why many of the coaches voted him into the exhibition game. 

Isaiah Thomas is having a terrific season thus far, for he is averaging career highs of 21.6 points and 6.6 assists per game. Amongst point guards in the Eastern Conference, Thomas ranks first in total points scored (1,016) and second — only behind fellow All-Star John Wall — in total assists (312). In addition, Thomas is shooting a career-best 89.2 percent from the free throw line while also averaging three rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

The University of Washington product has been a starter on the Celtics since November 4, 2015 and has scored at least 16 points in all but four of his 44 games since. Also, it is worth noting that Boston has gone 46-31 since Thomas entered the team’s lineup on February 22, 2015. In the previous season and a half prior to Thomas’s arrival, the team had a poor record of 55-89.

Check out the video below to see some of Thomas’s best plays of the 2015-16 NBA season.

Even though he is under six feet tall, Thomas has no fear whatsoever when it comes to getting to the basket. He averages 11.3 drives per game, which is the third most in the NBA. His nonstop driving to the hoop has undoubtedly led to an increase in his assist numbers, and his improved passing ability has not gone unnoticed. 

He’s just under 7 assists right now, he has a 3-1 [assist to turnover] ratio. His playmaking ability and the ability to value the basketball, then on the other end just being solid defensively,” said current Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, who used to be Thomas’s coach in Sacramento. “But he’s always been a guy who can score. He can score in his sleep. But it was the other things that he’s needed to improve upon and he’s done that. He’s made a concerted effort to do so.”

Prior to being selected to the All-Star Game, Thomas had expressed what it would mean to him if he were to be selected.

It would mean the world to me. I feel like I deserve it,” Thomas said. “Numbers don’t lie and my team is winning.”

While Thomas’s statistics have clearly been great this season, the gifted point guard brings up another great point. His Celtics are winning games often and are therefore exceeding expectations this year. In fact, the team’s 26-21 record has them sitting at fifth place in the Eastern Conference. This team had low expectations heading into the season for a couple of reasons. First, the Celtics had one had former All-Star on their roster to start the season. That player is David Lee, who is averaging just over 15 minutes per game this season and is clearly past his prime. Second, the Celtics had a losing record the previous season and, aside from the signing of Thomas, did not make any big moves during the offseason.

The three point guards that will be playing for the Eastern Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game are Kyle Lowry (starter), John Wall and Isaiah Thomas.

When statistics and team success come into play, Isaiah Thomas was an easy selection for the NBA All-Star Game.

Look at the table below to see how Thomas’s statistics compare to those of the point guards whose teams currenly have better records than the Celtics. It becomes clear that Thomas was a more worthy selection than these other great (and former All-Star) point guards when it comes to overall production on the court this season.


Team’s Record
Games Played
Points
Assists
Steals
Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers)
32-12
18
15.4
3.8
0.9
Derrick Rose (Bulls)
25-19
38
15.3
4.5
0.6
Jeff Teague (Hawks)
27-21
44
14.3
5.5
1.3
Isaiah Thomas 26-21
47
21.6
6.6
1.1

Now take a look at how Thomas’s stats compare to playmaking point guards of some Eastern Conference teams that are ranked below the Celtics in the standings. Again, Thomas’s numbers compare favorably to those of his competitors.


Team’s Record
Games Played
Points
Assists
Steals
Isaiah Thomas
26-21
47
21.6
6.6
1.1
Reggie Jackson (Pistons)
25-21
46
19.3
6.5
0.8
Goran Dragic (Heat)
25-21
37
12.3
5.0
1.0
Kemba Walker (Hornets)
22-24
46
20.5
5.0
1.8

Isaiah Thomas has played extremely well this season and was rightfully selected to play in the upcoming All-Star Game. After receiving the news of his selection, Thomas took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

I am honored to be selected as an All-Star and represent the Celtics, joining the greatest of Celtics who have played in the All-Star game. I’m very grateful for all the support I have been given by the greatest fans in the world and of course the Celtics organization. This is a team award, none of us succeeded without our teammates and their support on and off the court. So thanks to my team and my coaching staff.”


Edited by William Ledy, Ben Moore.

SQuiz
Besides Isaiah Thomas, what other 5'9" player was selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game
Created 1/29/16
  1. Nate Robinson
  2. Spud Webb
  3. Calvin Murphy
  4. Yao Ming

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