Before the Mavs, Thomas played a few games with the Los Angeles Lakers but before that, he was relegated to the G League, where he blew people away by creating 42 points in a single game.
With such a powerful point total, some have wondered just how it’s gotten to this point: how is Thomas struggling to find a home in the league?
Isaiah Thomas was nothing short of AMAZING tonight. 🙏 @isaiahthomas
42 points | 8 assists | 6 rebounds | 5 3PT pic.twitter.com/qBO1IelI0f
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) December 16, 2021
It wasn’t always this way.
There was a time when Thomas was one of the hottest players in the NBA so what happened?
And, more importantly, is there any chance of him remaining in the big leagues now that he has returned?
A Great Start – And Unexpected End
Thomas got his start in the 2011-2012 season when he was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the second round of the NBA Draft.
He played a few seasons with the Kings and then one with the Phoenix Suns before he was sent over to the Boston Celtics, where things really started to take off.
In his first game for Boston, Thomas came off the bench and created 21 points.
He immediately started making waves with the Celtics, claiming the title of Eastern Conference Player of the Week multiple times and consistently scoring double-digits.
At the end of the 2014-15 season, Thomas finished second in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award voting.
Perhaps his brightest moment in Boston came on December 30, 2016, when he scored a career-high 52 points in a victory against the Miami Heat.
The end of the season found Thomas with a pretty serious hip injury and that was quickly followed by a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But a physical by the team determined that there were still issues about his health and that started Thomas’ journey all over the league.
It turned out that Thomas was suffering from secondary health issues and his output was never the same.
He bounced around between the G League and NBA and briefly played on multiple teams including the Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, and New Orleans Pelicans.
But no matter where he was, he wasn’t creating the same amount of points as before and it was obvious that he wasn’t fully healed – or fully believed in by his coaches.
After being forced to retire from the NBA, Thomas didn’t give up hope and continued to play his heart out.
He repeatedly stated his intention to play in the NBA again and spent his time training and healing.
Even though offers from Chinese and other foreign teams were offered, Thomas had his heart set on playing in America again.
Two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas sits down with @Stadium ahead of G League Showcase: NBA return hopes, nearly signing with the Lakers, bond with city of Boston, life-changing hip procedure. pic.twitter.com/jK4gI8loIx
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 14, 2021
He was signed by the G League team, the Grand Rapids Gold, in December and immediately showed the progress he had made.
This all culminated in his 42 points in 42 minutes just days before the Lakers signed him to a 10-day contract.
His second chance in the NBA hasn’t been exactly smooth so far: he has been inconsistent and has been forced to enter COVID health and safety protocols.
But he certainly isn’t as washed up as some had imagined and it’s clear that he’s come a long, long way from the hip injury that forced him out in the first place.