Just a couple of short seasons ago, Isaiah Thomas was a budding super star in the league competing with the Celtics in what was a horrible time in his personal life, and a wonderful time in his professional career. Thomas led the Celtics to 53 wins that particular season taking them all the way to first place in the Eastern Conference, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
How things can change in such a short time.
We all know the story (or at least we should now that Thomas is officially a Denver Nugget). After the 2016-2017 season, Thomas was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving, and the downward spiral of his career began.
I haven’t made myself privy to all of the details of the drama that unfolded in the locker room in Cleveland, but it’s been reported that Thomas was part of the negativity leading to the overhaul of the Cavs’ roster that exiled him to the Lakers for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season.
Thomas had indirectly been shunned by LeBron James who is and had been the most influential player in the league for many years, and that spelled disaster for his value.
The Nuggets scored big time when they landed Thomas for such a hefty bargain. As crazy as it sounds to have the fallen star play back-up to anyone, this is the position he has found himself in for now.
My opinion is that Thomas’ performance and actions this coming season will be an absolute make or break for his career.
So how can he capitalize on this opportunity and become the relevant star he once was?
Let his game prove itself.
If Thomas wants to become relevant in the league once again he needs to put his head down, get to work, and avoid letting a diva-like attitude get him into trouble. At this point in his career, no one cares what he used to be. It’s all about what you have done for us lately. If he lets his work ethic shine through, he will no doubt capture the attention of other teams in the league to set himself up for a bigger deal when his time with the Nuggets comes to a close.
Understand his role.
I adore Jamal Murray, and I believe he is a key part of the Nuggets’ future. However, I’m not opposed to seeing Thomas work to the lead spot. I believe a little healthy and friendly internal competition will make the team better overall. However, Thomas needs to enter with the attitude that he is embracing his role off the bench. Every good leader says that in order to be a good leader, you must first learn to be a good follower. If Thomas can humble himself to following the leadership of the other veteran Nuggets, he will set himself up to be a better leader in the future.
Embrace the journey.
Sometimes our career takes us in a direction we didn’t necessarily envision it going. During the difficult times it can be hard to understand why things are happening they way they are. However, when we look back we can typically see that something positive came from the hardship. If Thomas can learn to embrace his journey (which it looks like he already is), he will be better for it in the future.
I believe Thomas’ coming reboot will prove tremendously beneficial for the Nuggets organization overall. If things go well, perhaps he can become a part of the key Denver fabric for the future.