Isaiah Thomas shows off his health with a 50-point performance; should he start for Celtics next year?

PG Isaiah Thomas shocked the Celtics news reel on July 11th when he dropped the bomb on Twitter that he was recovering from offseason wrist surgery:

Several weeks later, a highlight video signals that it’s time to exhale.

Thomas appeared yet again over the internet, this time in a highlight montage showing the C’s guard dropping a ridiculous 50 points in a Seattle Pro Am game.

Even more convincing is that 20 of his 50 points came from the free throw line. His prowess at sacrificing his body through contact for points has become a crucial characteristic of his game at the NBA level.

Thomas’ final stat line in the game consisted of the big 50, along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists.

The video above features Thomas attacking the rim with no hesitation, gunning down outside shots, and showcasing his high level playmaking skills. It was those exact attributes that helped Boston so much when he came over in a trade deadline steal that Danny Ainge couldn't pass up. Thomas would act as a spark plug for the playoff bound C’s.

A wrist injury became an issue for Thomas early last year with Phoenix, so the mention of surgery on a cyst lit up some red flags. But Thomas’ casual announcement of it in a Twitter Q&A, along with Brad Stevens calling it a “minor thing” was encouraging.

Nevertheless the video screams loud and clear that recovery is complete and his eyes are on the 2015-16 season.

The current situation Thomas walks into this season is a confusing one. The backcourt a year ago featured Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley as established starters, but after Thomas' arrival he took the high road and continued to come off the bench.

Thomas became a 6th man sensation, lighting up the Garden every time he walked up from the bench, and changing seemingly every game he stepped into.

Dynamic plays like this one against New York made Thomas a hit among Celtics fans, and helped the team make the playoffs. Photo Credit: Christopher Evans 

His efforts would earn him runner-up to Lou Williams in the “6th Man of the Year” voting and the team went 14-7 in regular season games he appeared in.

With all that success, the chip on Thomas’ shoulder was still present. A ruthless competitor, he did make it known last year that his desire is to start and many guessed his split with Phoenix had something to do with that as well.

He hasn't publicly mentioned it yet, but it wouldn't blow my mind if he comes into training camp this fall expecting to be Boston’s starting point guard. That would create quite an issue for management and Stevens.

Thomas was a weapon, averaging 19.0 PPG with 5.4 APG and 2.1 RPG on 41% shooting in 21 games with the green. But, it would be inexcusable to send Smart to the bench with his potential upside to be a star for the C’s.

Bradley, too, would be tough to stick on the pine coming off his most impactful two way season shooting 43% with 13.9 PPG; while balancing that with his usual defensive aggressiveness.

The central issue with starting Thomas is the defensive liability he presents. Even Ainge stated last year his preference is to see Thomas' energy utilized in a bench role.  Cleveland went at him throughout the 4 game playoff series in the spring and his 0.3 DWS (explained here) last year paled in comparison Smart’s 2.2 and Bradley’s 2.1.

Thomas has been able to use his lack of height as a driving force for his confidence and success as an unlikely pro, but its also hard to ignore. The fact that he is 5'9'' makes him a difficult fit in a NBA starting lineup even for all his playmaking brilliance.

I’m not ripping the team for acquiring him and going away from tanking like some have, because asset building is crucial to Ainge’s core philosophy. What makes Thomas different from the typical asset is his life-size confidence and edge, which is both refreshing and a challenge.

The guard logjam is just another problem Boston will have to grapple with going into a complicated 2015-16. In a star driven NBA, talent has to be accommodated.

For that reason, it would be tough to imagine a starting request by Thomas being denied.

Despite some of the issues that may come up with this, Thomas still remains Boston’s most valuable asset while Smart remains their most convincing prospect. A starting tandem between the two would be interesting, especially considering their relentless drives and love for the game, along with their cohesive skill-sets.

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart would make an intriguing starting duo. Photo Credit: Jim Davis, Boston Globe

At the moment, 2015-16 appears as if it'll be another year for Boston to push their internal talent while waiting to land a big name when one becomes available. Quite like Houston’s long wait for James Harden in the years after Yao Ming.

No matter where he plays, though, this video is yet another indication that Thomas is still fully committed to elevating himself. That has to be convincing for a Celtics team that has bought heavily into him.
Soon, the Celtics may need to return the favor and commit to Thomas as their starting PG.

Follow Bobby Manning on Twitter @RealBobManning