According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Denver Nuggets point guard Isaiah Thomas is targeting a return in early February.

Woj states in his report that Thomas needs to go through 5×5 scrimmages before returning to the court but that he’s very close to moving on to that step. He goes on to state that at the very latest the Nuggets are hoping to have IT back no later than when they return from the all-star break. With the recent returns of Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Will Barton, and with the anticipated debut of Jarred Vanderbilt very close, the Nuggets are starting to get healthy at just the right time. However, it’s not as easy as it may seem to integrate all of these players.

IT will bring a unique challenge to coach Michael Malone. If fully healthy he brings a scoring dynamic to the court that demands playing time. However, his absence has allowed Monte Morris and Malik Beasley the opportunity to prove they are ready for regular minutes and both of them have made the most of those opportunities. It would be very difficult for coach to bench either Beasley or Morris in favor of Thomas. Still, IT is just two years removed from finishing fifth in MVP voting behind some truly gaudy offensive numbers. Though Beasley has looked excellent, and Morris as steady as a rock, once Barton and Harris return to the starting lineup the Nuggets will be missing that consistent instant scoring threat off the bench. Thomas can provide that for Denver even if he never fully returns to his 2016-2017 form.

The Nuggets likewise can use the benefit of his veteran leadership and playoff experience. Only Thomas, Millsap and Mason Plumlee have played more than one hundred minutes in the postseason. While no doubt IT has been an excellent veteran presence for the team off the court, his leadership on the court, especially if the Nuggets are successful in their quest to return to the playoffs, will be a major boost. His return couldn’t be timed any better with Denver sitting in playoff position for the third straight season at the all-star break but this time with a far larger cushion between themselves and the 9th seed. Denver should have time to integrate IT into the rotation and have him back to full speed for the stretch run.