CLEVELAND—Isaiah Thomas’ impact off the Boston Celtics bench has been pivotal to the team’s ascension into the playoffs.
But his strong play with the Celtics was not enough to garner any hardware for his efforts with Toronto’s Lou Williams being named this year’s Kia NBA Sixth Man Award winner.
Williams averaged a career-high 15.5 points in helping lead the Raptors into the playoffs for the second straight season.
Williams, in his 10th NBA season and first with the Raptors, received 78 first-place votes and 502 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
Thomas, who had 22 points and 10 assists in Boston’s 113-100 Game 1 loss to Cleveland on Sunday, was second with 324 points (33 first-place votes), and two-time Sixth Man award winner Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers was third with 131 points (eight first-place votes).
The news of his runner-up finish did not come totally by surprise. Prior to the announcement, Thomas had already said the winner would likely be him or Williams.
“It’s alright,” Thomas said when asked about not winning the award. “Congrats to Lou Will. I can’t say too much about it. All I can say is numbers don’t lie. Congrats to him; he deserves it.”
Thomas averaged a team-high 19.0 points per game during the regular season for the Celtics and 16.4 overall when included with his numbers in Phoenix. He scored 20 or more points 27 times, more than any reserves in the NBA this season.
That includes his time spent with the Suns who traded him to Boston on Feb. 19.
Having split time between Phoenix and Boston may have had an impact on the final voting.
“You can say that,” Thomas said. “Since I got to Boston, things changed, we started winning. You’re going to hear more about individual success. I thought I did a pretty good job in Phoenix. I can’t control it.”