Isaiah Thomas is not the same, why did the Cleveland Cavaliers trade for him?
Well, let’s not panic just yet. Isaiah Thomas will be fine.
Isaiah Thomas made his return earlier this month after being out since May of last year. Thomas looked like he had not missed a step in his first two games back, scoring 17 points and 19 points in those games.
But as we all know it takes time to adjust to a new team and a new system. After all, Thomas is no longer the main option, and he will have to figure out how to play with LeBron James being the primary ball handler.
Thomas’ last two games have been nothing short of a nightmare. Scoring a combined 13 points on 5-26 (19.2%) shooting, yikes. Thomas was also ejected against Minnesota for clotheslining T-Wolves guard Andrew Wiggins out of frustration.
The struggles of Thomas are also happening at a bad time in the season for the Cavaliers. After starting the season 5-7 the Cavaliers went on to win 19 out their next 21 games and all looked well in Cleveland.
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However, the loss to Golden State on Christmas Day derailed the Cavaliers momentum. They have now lost 7 out of their last 9 games and are searching for answers.
When Thomas came back many thought this would be enough to right the ship for Cleveland. But the problems have gotten worse since I.T. made his return.
In the Cavaliers last three games they have lost by 28 to Minnesota, 34 to Toronto and blew a 22-point lead at Indiana. Not good at all.
Just like the beginning of the season, the team will have to adjust to Thomas being back on the floor.
The fan overreaction to Thomas’ slow start is understandable, but a bit over the top. Remember this, Thomas has not played competitive basketball in nearly eight months. Anyone who is out that long is going to have some sort of rust to shake off before returning to normal.
Just look at what Thomas did in his second game back against Orlando. This Cavaliers team will be great if I.T. plays like this most nights.
Anyone doubting Thomas is out of their mind. Give him a few weeks to return to game action and practice with his new teammates, then he will be back to his dominant self.
But don’t expect to see the I.T. that averaged nearly 30 points per game last season. That just won’t happen on this team, which is not a bad thing and should not worry Cavaliers fans.
This Cavaliers team is deep and talented, so Thomas won’t have to carry the load like he did in Boston for the team to be successful.
If Thomas can average 22-24 points per game moving forward, that will be just what the Cavaliers need. Thomas provides a scoring threat alongside James, and if he is on his game, will be an excellent No. 2.
The big concern for Thomas is his defense or lack thereof. This Cavaliers team is not good at defense, that is obvious.
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Currently, Cleveland ranks 29th in the NBA in total defense and Thomas probably won’t help improve that number.
Thomas is not on the team for defense. But he needs give effort in order for the Cavaliers to have any shot at winning long-term.
What Thomas needs to work on is fitting into the offense and making the most of his time on the floor. With the attention of most defenses on LeBron, this should lead to open shots for Thomas every game. Taking (and hopefully) making open shots will help Thomas develop a rhythm, which will make him feel more comfortable on the floor.
Thomas is underrated at playing off the ball, but this is where he will truly be effective for the Cavaliers. Whether he spots up from beyond the arc or cuts to the basket for a layup, Thomas can make teams pay for forgetting about him.
While he is not the finisher Kyrie Irving is around the rim, Thomas is still great at getting to the hoop. His ability, even at 5’9″ to drive to the basket, absorb contact and still finish is unbelievable.
The situation in Cleveland right now is less than ideal, but we have all seen this before.
We saw it at the beginning of the season, it took the Cavaliers a few weeks to figure it all out. But once they did, the team began to roll. The same can be said about the I.T. situation. Give him some time to gel with his teammates and the Cavaliers will find their way out of this slump.
After all, Thomas is ready to prove the naysayers wrong, and after his latest two performances, the doubters are out in full force. Don’t be too quick to overlook I.T. though, he has made a career out of silencing his critics and he’s getting ready to do it again, this time in Cleveland.