Isaiah Thomas is looking to make a comeback, and there's one team in particular that appears to be interested in him.
On Aug. 11, Substack's Marc Stein reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have "weighed the potential signing" of Thomas. Not long after, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Thomas was one of three players - the two others being Darren Collison and Mike James - who recently worked out with the Lakers.
"A signing is not imminent, sources said," Haynes wrote. "The Lakers could also elect to bring players into training camp to fight for the last few roster spots."
A two-time All-Star with an All-NBA Second Team selection to his name, Thomas played in three games while on a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2020-21 season. He made headlines this offseason when he scored 81 points in the Crawsover Pro-Am.
ISAIAH THOMAS JUST DROPPED 81 POINTS 😵 @isaiahthomas @thecrawsover pic.twitter.com/csaVda2RjE- Overtime (@overtime) August 8, 2021
In an interview with ESPN's Malika Andrews, Thomas said his "only goal" is to be in the NBA, adding that he's worked out with some teams and that he's been eager to show that he's finally healthy again.
With that in mind, what would Thomas bring to a team?
How much does Isaiah Thomas have left in the tank?
Thomas was once one of the most electrifying scorers in the NBA.
As a member of the Boston Celtics in 2015-16, Thomas averaged 22.2 points per game en route to his first All-Star selection. He then averaged a career-best 28.9 points per game in 2016-17, putting him behind only Russell Westbrook (31.6) and James Harden (29.1) for most in the league. He earned his second All-Star selection and an All-NBA Second Team selection that season, as well as the fifth-most votes for MVP.
Unfortunately for Thomas, he suffered a hip injury during the 2017 NBA Playoffs that has plagued him ever since.
In the four seasons since, Thomas has played a total of 87 games while averaging 12.6 points and 3.8 assists on .384/.343/.839 shooting splits. He's suited up for five different teams during that stretch, including a 17-game stint with the Lakers in 2017-18.
Thomas showed the most promise in the 40 games he appeared in with the Washington Wizards in the 2019-20 season. He shot the ball well, both off the catch and off the bounce. According to NBA.com, a quarter of his shot attempts in a Wizards uniform were catch-and-shoot 3s, and he knocked down 45.9 percent of those opportunities.
If Thomas can shoot that well again, it would ease his fit next to other stars.
Thomas also converted 35.1 percent of his 3-point pull-ups and 43.4 percent of his 2-point pull-ups with the Wizards, the combination of which made him a threat out of the pick-and-roll, where he generated the bulk of his offence. He finished the season ranking in the 42nd percentile with 0.81 points per pick-and-roll possession.
Thomas hasn't been the same finisher around the basket since suffering his hip injury, but he used to be a crafty scorer in the paint. If he is at full strength again, it'll be interesting to see if he can regain some of the explosiveness, shiftiness and speed that helped him finish in his prime.
The other end of the court has always been the concern with Thomas. Not only does his size make him an easy target, but he's never been one to rack up many steals or deflections. It wouldn't be as big of an issue in a backup role - a team like the Lakers would be able to surround him with solid defenders at every other position as well - but it's a part of his game teams would have to cover for.
In addition to the Lakers, NBA.com's Kyle Irving mentioned the Miami Heat as a possible destination for Thomas.
"If the Heat are looking for depth behind newly acquired Kyle Lowry, Thomas may be a decent fit there, as well," Irving wrote.
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