Could Isaiah Thomas actually be the next Allen Iverson?

Isaiah Thomas is having the best season of his career. He's top five in scoring, and first among players in the East. He's making a strong bid for starting the All-Star game, and he's earned the respect of stars across the league. More than that, he's also caught the gaze of retired star and now hall-of-famer, Allen Iverson, a guy that Isaiah wants to be a lot like. But what a lot of people might not realize? He's not that far off:

The little guy notched 52 points to close out 2016, his first year as an All-Star, and he's finally earning the recognition by the league for his dominance night in and night out. Seriously, he hasn't scored less than 20 points since the middle of November. That was also the only time this season that he hasn't tallied at least 20.

Just in terms of play, he's been a relentless force when the C's need him. That's why he's just behind likely-MVP Russell Westbrook in fourth quarter scoring, and why MVP chants rang through the TD Garden on Thomas' historic night.

It seems like in his time with Boston, Thomas has developed a killer instinct that's finally manifested itself in the clutch. A year ago, IT wasn't always reliable in crunch time. Opportunities to put teams away wouldn't always go his way. This season, it feels like Boston needs a basket and he finds a way to sink a miraculous circus shot and get the whistle each time down the floor. Celtics fans have reason to be optimistic heading into the fourth frame trailing. Because every game is another opportunity for Thomas to prove he's a star. Prove he's more than he looks. Prove he belongs in this league.

The same way AI did.

With IT's ridiculous stats this season, what more proof do you need?

Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Elise Amendola/Associated Press.