2015-16 Awards Series
Def. POY
Sixth Man
Best Game

2016 Awards Series Most Valuable Player: Isaiah Thomas

It’s awards season at Celtics.com! We’re handing out six awards over the next few weeks as we roll through this year’s Celtics.com Awards Series. We may not have trophies or acceptance speeches, but we do have some top-flight Celtics performances to outline. Here we go...

BOSTON – It was widely recognized that the Boston Celtics lacked star power entering the 2015-16 season, and because of that, many NBA pundits did not expect the C’s to make much noise in the Eastern Conference.

It didn’t take long for all that talk to disappear, as a star emerged in Isaiah Thomas. The point guard was Boston’s top scorer and facilitator, guiding the team to a 48-34 record – the third-best mark in the East. Along the way he averaged career highs of 22.2 points per game and 6.2 assists per game, establishing himself as the squad’s clear-cut Most Valuable Player.

Thomas steered the ship from start to finish, pacing the team in scoring on 56 occasions, including a franchise record 17-straight times from March 2 to April 6, while being the only Celtic to appear in all 88 games.

The 5-foot-9 point guard’s remarkable campaign placed him among an elite list of Celtics legends, as he became just the third player in franchise history to notch at least 1,800 points and 500 assists in a single season, joining Hall-of-Famers Larry Bird and John Havlicek.

Not only did Thomas emerge as the top dog in Boston, but he also implanted himself among the top players in the entire league by earning his first NBA All-Star selection.

He finished fourth in the East in scoring (22.2 PPG) behind LeBron James (25.3 PPG), DeMar DeRozan (23.5 PPG) and Paul George (23.1 PPG). He also was one of the conference’s top passers, dishing out the third-most assists in the East (509), behind John Wall (789) and James (514).

Thomas also did a whole lot of damage at the free-throw line, where he shot 87.1 percent – the third-best mark in the East and the top percentage in the league among players who attempted at least 500 freebies.

And, Thomas was the only player in the league to tally at least 1,800 points, 500 assists and commit fewer than 225 turnovers.

His scoring and turnover statistics were particularly astounding.

IT is listed as the shortest active player in the league, yet he is able to slice through defenses and score over 7-footers with ease. He averaged the most drives in the league (11.7 per game), which led to 35.9 percent of his field goals makes taking place in the paint.

As for his ball-handling, Thomas was one of the most sure-handed point guards in the East. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.31 ranked him third among Eastern Conference point guards who played at least 30 minutes per game.

All of those statistics allowed Thomas to contribute a team-high 9.7 win shares during the regular season.

During the Playoffs, Thomas proved just how important his scoring is to the team’s success.

When the C’s found themselves down two games to none during their first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, IT came through with a career-high 42-point effort during Game 3, and then a 28-point performance during Game 4 as the Celtics tied the series 2-2.

From there on out, the Hawks began trapping Thomas and swarming him when he drove to the lane, and his offensive proficiency declined. He was limited to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field during Games 5 and 6. The C’s were unable to get Thomas enough help on the offensive end and lost both games – and the series – as a result.

It demonstrated that when Thomas is rolling, the Celtics tend to hop on his back and enjoy the ride; on the other hand, when he can’t establish an offensive rhythm, Boston typically struggles along with him, furthermore proving that he was hands down the most valuable piece to its puzzle this season.


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