Denver Nuggets, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: Give Isaiah Thomas a year before you write him off

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Isaiah Thomas is not and has never been a perfect basketball player. Nobody is. Thomas’ flaws aren’t hard to identify, as his listed height of 5-foot-9 makes it hard for IT to be a great defender. It sure didn’t stop him from becoming an MVP candidate on offense with the Boston Celtics, though.

Thomas has not been that in his first seven games with the Denver Nuggets. IT is shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from 3-point range as a Nugget, and some in Denver are already (rightfully) concerned about a low-efficiency player using as many touches as Thomas does.

That concern is fair for Denver, as the Nuggets can’t afford slip-ups that could derail their fantastic season thus far. What isn’t fair is writing off Thomas because he hasn’t played well yet. It takes time for NBA players to come back from year-long injury absences, and IT has been out recovering from hip surgery since March 2018.

Gordon Hayward is in the first season back from just about a year away from the NBA floor, and he’s averaging just over 10 points per game while shooting 43.2 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from deep. Those aren’t Gordon Hayward numbers, because he’s clearly still getting back into his proper NBA form.

Paul George sat out almost an entire season after breaking his leg at a Team USA scrimmage and played six games in the 2014-15 season after getting healthy. George shot 36.7 percent from the field and scored less than 9 points per game in what remained of that season.

This is all very normal. NBA players need to be in game shape to play well, and it takes time for them to feel right again after missing as much time as IT, Hayward, and PG did. Isaiah Thomas isn’t perfect, but he deserves a chance to prove he can be the same flamethrower he was in Boston before he’s written off entirely.

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