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Isaiah Thomas' debut a very encouraging sign for Wizards, given mystery of his health

Isaiah Thomas' debut a very encouraging sign for Wizards, given mystery of his health

We don't know if the Wizards will at some point get the Boston Celtics, All-NBA version of Isaiah Thomas. But after Saturday night's narrow defeat against the Spurs, it appears they will get something better than the 2018-19 Denver Nuggets version.

Thomas, in his first NBA game action since April, was a productive member of the Wizards' rotation. He came off the bench to give them 16 points, five assists and three rebounds in just south of 20 minutes of floor time. Thomas' 16 points matched his season-high from last year in Denver. He shot 4-for-10 from three and finished plus-two in the box score, one of only four Wizards to land in the positive.

And that was despite a bit of a rough start as Thomas had to shake off the rust. He missed his first four shots and seemed to need a few minutes to catch up to the speed of the other players on the court. But once he did, he had flashes of brilliance, where he was in control of the offense and able to keep Spurs defenders off-balance.

What Thomas can give the Wizards this season is a major mystery. He appeared in only 44 games the past two years due to issues with his right hip and shot just 36.7 percent from the field and 29 percent from three.

That raised some doubts when the Wizards signed him to a free agent deal this summer. Then, he tore a ligament in his left thumb before training camp and missed the entire preseason. He is a reclamation project and Washington knows all too well how those sorts of things can not work out. See Dwight Howard for an example.

Thomas, though, proved in his Wizards debut that he at least has the capability of affecting games off the bench as an offensive spark. He can knock down open shots and set up others with accurate and creative passes.

What he will need to show over time is whether he can be more than a liability on defense. And, he needs to demonstrate he can be quick enough to get himself open. Thomas is, as everyone knows, only 5-foot-9. He is never going to shoot over someone, so he has to be able to run to his shooting spots before defenders can close. Otherwise, he won't be getting anything but contested shots.

On Saturday, he had some moments where got open that were encouraging. And the glimpses he showed help paint a brighter picture for the Wizards at the point guard spot.

With John Wall out for at least a few months, the Wizards have some questions of depth at point. They made it through the first two games with Ish Smith as the starter and two-way player Chris Chiozza as his back-up. Even with Thomas in the mix, the Wizards arguably have one of the weaker point guard groups in the league.

But Thomas has the highest ceiling of their point guards outside of Wall. He has been an All-Star before and even half of what he used to be might still qualify as their best option.

He has a long way to go, but Saturday was an excellent start, all things considered.


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Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas has missed the Wizards' last two games with a left calf strain and it sounds like he will be out at least a little while longer.

The Wizards guard caught up with NBC Sports Washington at his holiday toy giveaway at the Boys and Girls Club in Northwest D.C. on Saturday and gave an update on how he's feeling.

"I'm good," he said. "I think I will be out a few more games and then be able to come back."

Thomas nearly played on Thursday in the Wizards' home win over the Sixers, according to head coach Scott Brooks. He pleaded with the coaching staff to play, but was advised not to as a precaution.

Thomas categorized the injury in a similar way, that the team is just playing it safe.

"I always feel like I can play, but the medical staff wants to be cautious about it, knowing it's a long season. There's a bigger picture and I'm just listening to whatever they've got to say," he said.

Thomas, 30, is enjoying a career renaissance of sorts with the Wizards. He is averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 41 percent from three on 4.9 attempts per game.

With Thomas out, the Wizards have gone 1-1 with Ish Smith in his place in the starting lineup.


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Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas likes to bring his sons with him just about wherever he goes. They walk with him into the Wizards' locker room, they shoot around on the court at Capital One Arena; he's even brought them to the podium for postgame interviews.

On Saturday, Thomas brought one of his sons to the Boys and Girls Club on 8th St. in Northwest Washington and for a specific reason. Thomas wanted him to help give back.

Just as Thomas was handing out toys to underprivileged youth, so was his son. The contrast was not lost on Thomas, who knows his son is well off as the kid of a millionaire NBA player. Not everyone is as fortunate.

"When I can do these types of things, I always want my kids to be around it," Thomas told NBC Sports Washington. 

"To be able to give back and see how blessed we are and how blessed he is and how we can put smiles on peoples' faces, especially around the holidays; it's definitely a point of emphasis to do that and bring my boys around to see it."

Thomas said his father instilled the same lessons in him when he was growing up in Washington state. Every Saturday morning at 6 a.m., his dad would take him to a shelter to serve breakfast to the homeless.

"That was something I was born into doing," Thomas said.

Thomas grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club himself and has partnered with them and World Vision throughout his NBA career to give back. Their efforts nationally have allowed him to continue the relationship no matter which team he has played for.

"Isaiah Thomas has been an amazing partner for World Vision," aid worker Brian Duss said. "Isaiah wasn't even in D.C. four days before he partnered with us at a school in [Southeast] to give away 400 backpacks filled with school supplies."

Before handing out toys and taking pictures with the children, Thomas addressed the crowd with a microphone. He spoke of his experience going to the Boys and Girls Club as a kid and explained the impact he hopes to make in the D.C. community.

"Whatever you need from me, I'm always here for you," he said. "I hope everyone has a happy holidays."