The shortest All-NBA player in league history, Isaiah Thomas' height is a subject he is used to hearing about. At charity events like his backpack and school supply giveaway in Southeast Washington on Thursday, sometimes that means people expressing disbelief that he is a professional basketball player.
"I get that a lot, especially with kids," the 5-foot-9 Wizards guard told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller.
"I'm so short that I'm like their height. They always ask questions like they don't believe it."
Thomas, who is entering his ninth NBA season and first in Washington, is also accustomed to what it means to be short on the basketball court. His margin for error is smaller. No baskets come easy.
Often times Thomas is guarded by players a half-a-foot taller than him. When he gets to the rim, opponents have him by a foot or more. That contrast presents little daylight to get his shot off.
So, for Thomas it is extra-important to move quickly and to get to his comfort zones on the floor. And this offseason, that concept has been a major priority in his training program.
"I've seen him be able to do more things as far as taking off and being able to run and feel comfortable," Andre Brown, his offseason on-court trainer, said.
"Now he's able to get to all of his spots on the floor and elevate to where his shot needs to be. It's a fluid motion. Once Isaiah gets to his spots, he's tough."
Thomas, 30, has been at his best in the NBA when he's making threes. In 2016-17, when he made All-NBA with the Celtics, Thomas made a career-high 3.2 threes per game and tied a career-best by shooting 37.9 percent from the perimeter.
Thomas can't shoot over many players in the NBA, so he needs to keep his opponents off-balance. The way he did that at his peak was with a consistent three-point shot and the threat of dribbling past those who close out too quickly.
Thomas only played in 12 games last season and 32 the year before that. Since his memorable run with the Celtics in the 2017 playoffs, he has averaged only 13.3 points while shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 29 percent from three.
The hip injury that ended his 2017 playoffs has persisted throught he past two seasons. But Thomas believes the fresh start in Washington could be the key to reinstalling himself as an elite scoring point guard.
"The NBA is about 'what have you done for me lately?' I understood that at a younger age and I get it," Thomas told reporters on Thursday.
"These last two years have been tough. But I always say that it can't storm forever. So, at some point things gotta open up. Hopefully with this big opportunity with the Wizards, I can show people that I can still play at a high level."
It would certainly be a good story. Thomas happens to have last been at his peak when playing against the Wizards in the second round of those 2017 playoffs. A lot has changed in two years as he is now on his second one-year contract with no guarantees to start or be the star.
Until Thomas shows the NBA he is back to being the player he once was, we can only take his and others' word for it. But Brown, for one, is a believer.
"This opportunity is going to be big for him, to shock the world," he said. "I just want everyone to pay attention and open [their] eyes and know that 'it's time.'"
Chris Miller contributed to this report
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