Isaiah Thomas Is Having Celtics’ Best Scoring Season Since Larry Bird


There’s not much the Boston Celtics haven’t accomplished in their rich basketball history, highlighted by a record 17 NBA championships.

But one milestone no Celtics player ever has achieved is scoring 30 points per game over a full season. Larry Bird came up just short with 29.9 points per game during the 1987-88 season, and John Havlicek averaged 28.9 points in 1970-71. Paul Pierce never averaged more than 26.8 points in a season.

Isaiah Thomas could be the first to reach this mark. The 5-foot-9 guard ranks tied for fourth in the NBA in scoring with 28.2 points per game after putting up 38 in Boston’s win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

If you look at per 48 minutes averages, Thomas’ 40 points per 48 minutes ranks second in the league behind Russell Westbrook’s 43.2. The Celtics star also has a better field goal, 3-point and free throw percentage than Westbrook per 48 minutes.

One of the most impressive parts of Thomas’ scoring repertoire is his ability to convert from anywhere on the court. He attacks the basket as well as any guard, and he’s not afraid of contact and getting hit in the paint on drives to the rim.

Most of his shots come in the paint, where he’s shooting over 11 percent better than the league average. Of the top 10 scorers in the league entering Thursday, only DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James and Kevin Durant have a better 3-point percentage than Thomas’ 37.8 percent.

Here’s a shot chart for Thomas through 35 games.


Thomas is among the NBA’s best free throw shooters, too. His 90.6 percent rate from the foul line ranks fifth in the league, and he’s one of six players shooting above 90 percent.

Thomas and Ray Allen are the only Celtics players to shoot 90-plus percent at the foul line since Larry Bird retired after the 1991-92 campaign. Thomas’ ability to hit free throws at the end of the games is very valuable to the Celtics and creates problems for opposing teams.

There’s a good chance Thomas becomes the first Celtic since Bird to score 28 or more points and shoot 90 percent or better from the line. Bird did it in 1986-87.

The Celtics have been blessed with many of the best players in basketball history, but very few of them have scored as well as Thomas. He’s a unique, exciting and ultra-talented player, one who deserves considerable MVP consideration at his current pace.

Thumbnail photo via Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports Images

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