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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