Since his time in Boston began, Brad Stevens has touted a read-and-react offense, that he refers to as "Pace and Space". In this system, Boston wants to push the ball up the court to get an easy shot if it's available. In the half court, he promotes floor spacing, ball movement, high lateral screens, and 3-point shooting.
Thus far, he hasn't had an offensive player who is capable of truly taking advantage of this system. Kelly Olynyk can hit the three, and attack the closeout, and some of his other players have shown that they can knock down shots from beyond the arc. However, the Celtics haven't had a shooter that can consistently make 3-point shots at an elite rate, an offensive-minded big man that can be fed consistently on the low block, or a driver who can take advantage of the offensive spacing to get into the paint at will.
While those first two players have yet to materialize, Danny Ainge has finally brought in the third. Enter Isaiah Thomas, a high-level pick-and-roll ball handler with a very quick first step, a keen eye for playmaking, and the small stature to draw fouls at the rim. He has contributed per-game averages of 21 points, 5.1 assists, and 2.6 rebounds. Perhaps more importantly, he has attempted 7 free throws per game. For context, the player with the second highest number of FTA per game is Brandon Bass, with 2.6.
Thomas has been successful in Boston in part because he is a very good player, but also because he is a perfect fit in Stevens's system. His willingness and ability to successfully attack the rim is the perfect complement to the offensive spacing that the Boston Celtics are able to achieve with their deep jump shots and ball movement. He is translating all of that space into easy looks at the rim and at the stripe. On the defensive end, which has traditionally been Thomas's weakness, he shares the floor with Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, or both. Both guards are defensive stalwarts, who can do a solid job of hiding his deficiencies on the less glamorous end of the floor.
By his own admission, the diminutive point guard was surprised when he was traded from the Suns. However, it is clear that he couldn't have landed with a better team, or in a better situation. He is on an up-and-coming team, with other talented young players, a great head coach, and a system that both emphasizes his talents and hides his weaknesses. I predict that his offensive statistics, and more importantly the solid offensive play of the Celtics as a whole, will continue throughout his time in Green.
Danny Ainge has made yet another spectacular move by bringing Isaiah Thomas to Boston. He has a team-friendly contract, is a talented player, and fits perfectly with Brad Stevens's system. He has the makings of a legitimate building block, and is absolutely another forward step on the march to banner 18.
All statistics from basketball-reference.com