He came up just short.
The last pick in the draft, the man who is generously listed at 5’9”, came inches away from being an All-Star starter. Isaiah Thomas followed up his first All-Star campaign with an electrifying season but is on the outside looking in from the Eastern conference starting lineup.
The Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps was he first to report, 41 minutes before the TNT All-Star Starter announcement special, that Isaiah Thomas will miss out on the start according to sources. He also reported that Steph Curry and James Harden will start for the West, shockingly sending Russell Westbrook to the bench.
Although Thomas was voted to start in the player and media vote, he came in fourth in the fan vote, which broke a tie in favor of DeMar DeRozan
Thomas could have become the shortest player to ever start an All-Star game, after joining Houston Rockets legend Calvin Murphy last year as the only 5-foot-9 players to make the squad.
Thomas had an extremely strong case to be a starter, as both his basic stats and advanced stats portray an elite player having a nearly unprecedented season. The narrative around him has catapulted him from emerging star to bonafide superstar this year. Considering the irony that the narrative surrounding the Celtics has been that they need to acquire a primary scorer superstar, Thomas put that chip on his shoulder and became exactly that (little) guy.
Thomas sits in a group with Steph Curry, James Harden and Kyle Lowry with a true shooting percentage over 60% and at least 7 three-point attempts per game, according to Basketball Reference. Before this season, Steph Curry was the only player ever to pull it off.
The Little Guy has been incredibly efficient, scoring 1.073 points per possession in the half court per Synergy. He is having the third-most efficient season by a guard in the last five years, trailing just Lowry this season and Curry in ‘14-’15.
The King in the Fourth leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring at 10.1 points per game according to NBA Stats, with Russell Westbrook the only person within two points at 9.4 ppq. He also leads the league with 3.9 free throw attempts per 4th quarter, an astonishing feat considering DeMarcus Cousins and Russell Westbrook, the two players behind him, essentially spend the last five minutes of every game attacking the rim at 100 miles per hour.
Thomas’s fourth-quarter performances are not just a product of him beating up on second units early in the quarter. When factoring for clutch situations, he is virtually tied with Russell Westbrook as the most efficient scorer in the league at 0.625 points per possession.
IT is fourth in the league in points per game at 28.7, putting him within shouting distance of Larry Bird’s franchise record 29.9 ppg from the ‘87-’88 season. Thomas did set a franchise record with his 29 fourth-quarter points and nine threes in the game against the Miami Heat on December 30.
It’s been an incredible season for Thomas, and he’ll have his chance to announce his newfound superstar status to the world in New Orleans., even if it’s off the bench.