You could make a pretty strong case Isaiah Thomas is the best player on the Boston Celtics. But for a guy who didn’t start a single game for the green last season, it doesn’t feel like that at times.

Thomas was one of Boston’s bright spots last campaign, averaging 19 points while playing just 26 minutes per game after joining the Celtics in February via a trade with the Phoenix Suns. He led the C’s in scoring and assists in both the regular season and the postseason and finished as the runner-up to the Toronto Raptors’ Louis Williams for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.

But if you think Thomas is content with where he’s at, you don’t know the 5-foot-9 guard very well.

“I still feel underrated, no doubt about it,” Thomas said recently, via Basketball Insiders. “I’ve always felt that way, but I’m going to earn my respect no matter what. I work extremely hard and I don’t want to be given anything. I want to earn it and get that respect from people.

“When you work hard on your craft — when you work as hard as the stars do — that’s how you earn people’s respect. Winning obviously takes care of everything too, and I think I did gain more respect from being on a playoff team. I just want to build on that and show the world that I’m one of the best players in the NBA.”

It might be hard to consider Thomas among the league’s elite, considering he has come off the bench in every game he’s played for Boston. When asked at the team’s media day if he deserved to have a starting role, though, the 26-year-old gave a diplomatic answer.

“I would love to be a starter, but it’s not the end of the world,” Thomas said. “As long as I’m out there playing and getting the minutes I deserve, I’m all for it. I’m all for the team and whatever it takes to win, and that’s an honest answer.”

If Thomas keeps up his stellar play from last season, it’s likely only a matter of time before he gets the recognition he deserves.

Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) looks on during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Celtics beat the Pistons 113-103.