Isaiah Thomas is rewriting his narrative with the Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards Isaiah Thomas (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Isaiah Thomas (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards took a gamble on Isaiah Thomas this summer, and it’s looking like one of the best deals of the offseason.

It’s no coincidence that the Washington Wizards’ best win of the season came in Isaiah Thomas’ first start.

The point guard is recollecting the momentum that once pushed him atop the MVP leaderboard. He’s moving well, playing hard, and contributing to winning basketball once again.

Is Isaiah Thomas back?

From Hero to Zero, Back to Hero?

Max contract was once the term most connected with Thomas’ pending free agency back in 2016. But a fatal injury in the playoffs sent his career into a spiral. Since playing 158 games in two consecutive seasons, he played just 46 games for three teams in two seasons before joining the Wizards.

The point guard was never really given a chance post-injury. His 15-game stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t exactly go as fans anticipated. Before they knew it, he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the purple and gold, there were flashes of the old Thomas. He averaged 15.6 points and five assists but only played in 17 games before being shut down with an injury. Then Thomas was off to Denver, but never really saw the floor last season with the Nuggets as he struggled to stay healthy and find a role on the surprise contender.

But he’s in Washington now. And early on, this comeback story is looking like the real deal.

In his first start since February 7, 2018, Isaiah Thomas and the Wizards beat a fire-hot Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons team at home to capture their second win of the season on Monday night. Thomas scored nine points, dished out six dimes, and snuck a steal into the stat line during his 24 minutes of play.

Sure, he went 4-of-12 from the field, and he only scored nine points. And he didn’t see that much more playing time as a starter than he did coming off the bench. He was averaging just over 20 minutes per game before his 24-minute run against Detroit.

But Thomas may have captured something in this game that has been escaping him since he left Boston on a plane to Cleveland: a chance.

The move from the bench to the starting unit, if nothing else, is symbolic. Thomas might not be fully back yet, but he’s getting there.

The Wizards’ Gamble is Paying Off

Thomas’ deal, worth $2.3 million, may prove one of the best of the offseason if he can sustain this level of play for the Wizards, who desperately needed to address their point guard position last offseason.

Now having played four games, Thomas looks like he was worth the risk. He’s averaging 14.5 points and seven assists. Those numbers won’t catapult him into the MVP conversations. But having him at even 80 percent the player he was in 2016-2017 would be huge for the Wizards.

Last season, \wWithout John Wall, shooting guard Bradley Beal was left to lead the team and serve as the primary playmaker. As a result, he averaged a career-high 5.5 assists.

If Thomas can come in and give them 10 points and five assists night in and night out, it’ll open up the offense entirely. Beal will be relieved of some playmaking duties, freeing him up off the ball, and Thomas will be another scoring threat that defenses will need to respect.

Having reliable point-guard play is a win-win!

Defensively, he’ll always be a liability because of his size. But that didn’t stop him before, and it won’t stop him now. The question is, can his offensive contributions mask his defensive deficiencies? In Boston, they did ten-fold. In Washington, it hasn’t been an issue yet.

Beal isn’t the only one that benefits, though. Rookie forward Rui Hachimura gets a reliable pick-and-roll point guard and someone who can help him on offense.

And now backup point guard Ish Smith, well he gets to revert back to where he’s comfortable: making things happen in the second unit. As players are getting healthy, this puzzle of a Wizards roster is starting to fit together.

The Washington Wizards’ expectations for this season were largely up in the air. Now? They’ve locked in Bradley Beal on a two-year extension, are seeing strong play from their 2019 draft pick, and may have gotten a starting-caliber point guard for the veteran minimum.

Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

Now healthy, Troy Brown is ready to make an IMPACT. dark. Next

Things are looking good for the WIzards. But for Thomas, he wins out no matter the finish.

He finally gets the opportunity to play starting point guard on a team that desperately needed one. He gets to show other teams why they should have given him this same chance and rewrite his narrative along the way. He gets to be Isaiah Thomas.