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Clyde Drexler: Isaiah Thomas is “just an awesome player.”

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The Glide thinks being “out of the spotlight” in Denver will serve Thomas well

The Players’ Tribune Hosts Players’ Night Out 2018 Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for The Players’ Tribune

In a phone interview with Basketball Society Online, Portland Trail Blazer and Houston Rocket great Clyde Drexler gave some thoughts on Isaiah Thomas and his current situation just a season removed from serious MVP consideration.

From the article:

“Denver is a great place for him, NBA Hall of Famer, Clyde Drexler told me by phone.

“I think he’ll have a chance to get out of the spotlight, work on his game, work on his health, more importantly. Im rooting for him.”

Drexler says Thomas will be fine “if he can get back to 28 points a game” while Jamal Crawford is quoted as saying Thomas has a “chip the size of a boulder” on his shoulder. The Denver Nuggets don’t need Isaiah Thomas to score 28 points a game, though - in fact, it might be detrimental to their passing, team-based approach.

The Nuggets need Thomas to fill a specific role: bench scorer, vocal leader, and director of the non-Jokic part of the offense. He and Nikola Jokic should fit together just fine based on Thomas’s fit in Boston with Al Horford, who has a similar skillset and passing acumen as a big man. That’s not why Denver brought him in, though, and this team would not be well-served with Thomas using that boulder-sized chip as an excuse to fire away looking for a points total and to make a statement about his lack of market rather than doing what’s best for the team. As Drexler himself says in the article, “You’ve got to do whatever you can to elevate your team members and yourself and I tried to do that every year I played in the NBA.”

The hope is that Thomas can fit in with this team rather than trying to make it his team. If he is healthy, he can absolutely help make Denver a home-court contender even in the stacked Western Conference. Hopefully he takes advantage of that lesser spotlight to shine without the criticisms that followed him this past season, and this year becomes a great one for both parties.