During the 2015-2016 season, the Washington native found a way to lead a young Celtics team on the offensive end, averaging 22.2 points, 6.2 assists and three rebounds. His consistently impressive play earned Thomas more than just the hearts of Boston sports fans; the 27-year-old was selected to compete in his first NBA All-Star game.
Thomas spoke to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders recently, discussing a multitude of topics. During the interview, Thomas explained that his goal is to build on last year’s success during the forthcoming season and become an even better player:
“I’ve had a little bit of success, but that doesn’t get to me,” Thomas said. “I want to be great, like I told you. I want to be better each and every year. The great players always come back with something new and something better.”
Thomas' desire to add something new to his game during the offseason is a trait possessed by some of the all-time greats, including Celtics legend Larry Bird.
The former Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings star spoke in further detail about the elements of his game that he would like to improve, even revealing that he is due to work with two-time MVP Steve Nash in the near future:
“I’ve been working on extending my range. I’m doing a lot of off-the-dribble threes just because that’s something I shot a lower percentage on and that’s something that I do a lot, where I got the ball in my hands and I’m dribbling and I need to be able to shoot better off of the dribble. I’m pretty good at catch-and-shoot and spot-ups and stuff like that. My main focus this year was extending my range, getting a quicker release on my jump shot and being able to pull-up from anywhere. When the defense has their hands down, I want to be shot-ready at all times. That was my main focus and then also just getting better at everything else. Getting better with my right hand, whether that’s finishing around the rim – different types of finishes – or right-hand passes off of the pick-and-roll. I just tried to continue to get better and also to continue to work on my one-legged shot. I pulled that out a lot of more and improved it. I’m supposed to be having a conversation with Steve Nash in a few days and just pick his brain about his one-foot shots that he used to do when he played.”
Isaiah working with Nash is a huge sign of his willingness to learn new ways to improve. Nash’s one-foot jumper became a signature move for the Canadian during his career and made him one of the most versatile scorers in the game:
With the increased focus on perimeter shooting in modern basketball, it is vital that smaller guards extend their range and quicken their release effectively to avoid being kept out of the game by bigger defenders. The idea of the already dangerous Isaiah Thomas shooting more efficiently from beyond the arc is a terrifying thought for opponents.
If the ‘little guy’ needed advice on further overcoming his lack of size to make a major impact on the game, he’s speaking to the right people:
“I’ve had long talks with Allen Iverson this summer, just about having that killer mentality at all times and never letting up. That’s how I want to be on the court and he’s somebody that never let up. I think his career averages were about 27 points per game. I got a long way to go to get there, but I’m trying to take the right steps.”
Although Thomas was elated to be involved with last year’s All-Star proceedings, he made it clear that one appearance is not enough and he will do his best to make himself a regular feature at the yearly event:
“I’m not satisfied with what I did last year. I don’t just want to be an All-Star one year. I want to make this something that’s annual. I want this to be something that happens every year, where people can count on me being in that game and winning playoff series and taking my team further and further. I’m not satisfied. I want to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, small guys to ever play the game. I know I have a long way to go and I know I have to keep working. But my confidence is at an all-time high and that’s never going to waiver. My confidence is what got me to where I am today and that’s just going to keep me going.”
After Boston acquired the highly coveted free-agent Al Horford in the offseason, Thomas now finds himself in an even better position to succeed this year. These recent comments make it crystal-clear that he certainly doesn’t lack the confidence or determination to make big things happen.
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Matt York - Associated Press
Peter Llewellyn - USA TODAY Sports Josh Coyne 9/24/2016 10:42:00 AM Tweet Edit