He has always been labeled as too small to succeed in the NBA. Listed generously at 5'9", Isaiah Thomas did not even get drafted until the 60th pick in the 2011 Draft, but now has risen all the way up the ladder to an All-Star team.
Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 29, 2016
That 2011 Draft has produced, to this point (5 seasons in), four other All-Stars from all over the draft map. Kyrie Irving (#1 overall) is the only top 10 player to make an All-Star team yet. Klay Thompson (#11 overall) and Kawhi Leonard (#15) were mid-round picks, while Jimmy Butler (#30 overall) and now Thomas (#60) were afterthoughts of the most desperate teams.
Thomas beat out other hopefuls like Kemba Walker (#9 in 2011) and Reggie Jackson (#24 in 2011), both of whom have put up similar numbers and came from the same draft.
Notable: current Suns Brandon Knight (#8) and Markieff Morris (#13) and Jon Leuer (#40) were all among the 59 players taken ahead of Thomas that year. Five of the six players taken immediately ahead of Thomas have never even made an NBA roster.
Thomas began putting up great numbers two teams ago, with the Sacramento Kings. He had a stat line of 20 points and 6.3 assists per game in 2013-14 but was let go by the Kings in free agency. They never made him an offer, then traded his rights for a pinch of pocket lint when the Suns came calling.
His stay in Phoenix was bright but blindingly fast, with his ticket out the door seemingly already punched before the first month of the season ended. He was a great teammate but made no bones about wanting to be a starter.
But unfortunately for him and the Suns, he was slotted behind the Suns own 20/6 player in Goran Dragic and up-coming talent Eric Bledsoe who provided more defense as well as comparable offense.
As we all know, the season blew up and Dragic and Thomas were traded to distant parts for a total of three future first round draft picks.
Now Thomas is thriving - as always - in Boston and has been named to his first All-Star team. Let's compare all the Suns-related players involved on that fateful day.
As you can see, Thomas is putting up the most points and assists this season on slightly fewer minutes, but the discrepancy between him and Bledsoe and Knight is not a chasm. Knight, a year ago, was considered for a spot on the East All-Star team, and now Thomas has gotten it done.
Where Thomas has them beat is durability (over Bledsoe) and impact (over Knight). Dragic is having a tough season in Miami, but like I said was a 20/6 player in 2013-14 himself.
I am happy for Isaiah Thomas. His brand of basketball is fun to watch, and he's been added to a team with a defense scheme that hides his deficiencies well. Playing next to Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley - two defensive masters - allows Thomas to focus on his best features.
In Phoenix, Thomas did not have a great future as long as the Suns wanted to keep Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe and Thomas (both 26 years old) would have been too small as a starting unit, and neither player would have wanted to come off the bench.
Celebrate a former Sun for his success. He went to a great opportunity and has helped the Celtics remain relevant in the East.