Photo Credit: Jeff Haynes/Getty Images
Written By: Kendall Garriss
Fans have not seen Thomas in an NBA game since last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, when Thomas, formerly a member of the Boston Celtics, was sidelined with a hip injury as his Celtics were trounced by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Much has changed since that series. The most notable being that Thomas is now a member of team that knocked his squad out of championship contention just months ago. Thomas was a part of the blockbuster deal this summer that sent him, Jae Crowder, the Brooklyn Nets first round pick and a future second round pick from Boston to Cleveland for point guard Kyrie Irving.
However, as the trade arrangements we being finalized, reports came out questioning the health status of Thomas, who was still wrestling with the hip injury that hobbled him during the playoffs. There were rumors that Thomas could miss up until the All-Star Break.
Charania reported that Thomas believes he could suit up for the Cavs right now but the team wants to be as cautious as possible as he returns from this injury.
The Cavs, who have struggled with point guard production all season, are excited about the versatility and offensive punch Thomas can bring to the team once he gets integrated into the system. During the off-season the Cavs also signed point guards Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon. Rose suffered an ankle injury early in the season and, at one point, was contemplating retirement due to his history of major injuries. As a result, the 36-year-old Calderon has been holding down the point guard position until Thomas returns.
Despite subpar point guard play, the Cavs have been one of the hottest teams in the league and are currently second in the Eastern Conference with a 23-8 record, having won 18 of their last 19 games. If the two-time All-Star can come back healthy and produce at his 2016-17 levels, when he averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game while also shooting about 38 percent from three-point range, the Cavs hope to field an offensive unit that can run with the Golden State Warriors in a playoff series.
However, like Kyrie, Thomas is a very ball-dominant player and will have to adapt to playing with LeBron James. Thomas will also most likely have a minutes restriction when he returns to action so the biggest issue for the Cavs will be figuring out how Thomas fits in with a team who has been clicking without him. Further, the Cavs will also have to address Thomas’ defensive deficiencies. The Celtics averaged nearly 10 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was off the floor last season, per NBA.com.
Should Thomas come back in early January, he could be available to play Jan. 3 on the road against his former team, the Boston Celtics.
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