Isaiah Thomas has had a busy summer. From recruiting Kevin Durant, to jet-setting to China to handing out ice cream at Faneuil Hall, the Celtics point guard has hardly been off this offseason.
In an interview with Celtics.com on Wednesday, Thomas talked about his trip to China, the team’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown, and what else he’s been doing this offseason when not recruiting, flying or giving away ice cream.
For the full interview, click here.
The 27-year-old went to Beijing as part of NBA Cares, an initiative to help continue to grow the game. He was joined by Karl-Anthony Townes of the Timberwolves as well as Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers. While there, they hosted clinics, meet-and-greets and NBA Finals viewing parties.
“It was a blessing to be able to be considered to go. Once they asked me to go I definitely wanted to see Beijing and what it was like,” Thomas said. “I’ve been to China before but it was definitely a smaller, but it was a good experience. I was hoping to meet Yao Ming but I didn’t get to, but it was nice to be in China and experience their culture a little bit.”
In his All-Star 2015-16 season in which he played in all 82 games (while starting 79), Thomas admittedly was a little banged up when the season concluded with their first round departure at the hands of the Hawks. As a result, he cited that he gave himself a little bit of time away from basketball at the start of the offseason.
“The first four to six weeks of offseason I didn’t play basketball, my body was hurting,” he said. “I needed some injuries to heal in my body so I really relaxed, spent time with my family, my kids and watched the playoffs so that was my biggest thing. Now I’m back working out, I’m healthy and I’m trying to just continue to get better each and every day so I can get ready for the season.”
Added Thomas on how the team plans to get better: “Work. Continue to work, continue to get better. Don’t be satisfied with what we did cause honestly we felt like we came up short, we felt like — give credit to Atlanta — but we felt like we could’ve beat them.”
With the Celtics often at the forefront of any and all rumors prior to the draft holding the prized third overall pick, many people were openly disappointed with the selection of Brown out of Cal. In Thomas’ case, however, he got a little reassurance that it was the right pick.
“He’s talented. Jaylen Brown is talented, he’s a workhorse,” said Thomas. “He’s somebody that when we drafted him, the older Isiah Thomas he always texts me, but he texted me and said ‘you’re going to like him. You’re going to like him. He works hard, he’s a good kid,’ So I’m excited to get to meet him, get to know him, and get to work on the court.”
He added: “The other draft picks I don’t know too much of them but they got drafted for a reason so hopefully they can help our team right away and make an impact.”
Thomas set a career high in points per game this season at 22.2. He was also just shy of his assists per game record of 6.3, turning in 6.2 helpers this season. He led the team in both of those categories this season as well. And that success was due to a number of factors according to the point guard.
“My work, my hard work that I put in. I prepared for the season like no other, I prepared to be a All-Star, that was one of my goals. But also everything just fell into place,” Thomas said. “My teammates are exceptional to where they want me to be myself, they allow me to be myself and they put me in the best position to be who I am, and same with the coaching staff. They’re a hardworking group of guys and they just want me to be me. So it’s kind of easy for me to go out there and just play because all the guys from the first guy to the last guy they just want me to be myself and it’s a great moment to have that, especially on a team like the Boston Celtics. So hopefully I can just build on it, which I will, and we can go a little further.”
Added Thomas about the season following an All-Star nomination: “This is my biggest summer yet. So making the All-Star team and then the next year is a big year not just for myself but anybody in that situation. I want to make the All-Star [game] an annual thing where I’m voted in by coaches, voted in by the fans. The next goal is to be a starter in the All-Star Game hopefully. So I’m just going to continue to work and continue to get better and never be satisfied with just one All-Star appearance.”
And when asked how he feels he stacks up against, the “elite” point guards of the league, Thomas went with his go-to phrase.
“All I’m going to say is men lie, women lie, numbers don’t,” Thomas said. “My numbers stack up against those other guys, those other top superstar guys you could say but at the end of the day I’m going to continue to work, continue to show that I’m just as good as any other point guard in the NBA.”