Isaiah Thomas last stepped on an NBA court in the 2021-22 NBA season, donning the Charlotte Hornets jersey. He hasn’t found a new team yet but is keeping tabs on how the game develops. And according to him, the game is much easier today than it was just five years ago.
Thomas hasn’t retired from basketball. As such, the former Boston Celtics guard has been diligently tuning in to every NBA game. And he can’t help but compare today’s basketball to his peak in 2017. He doesn’t mean any disrespect to the current players of today. But for IT, the game requires lesser effort today.
“My game is the same but my mind is so much further than it was in 2017. So I’m just picking the game apart. I’m seeing it really before it happens. It’s so slow. [The game is] way easier. And that’s no disrespect to the players in it. The game is as easy as ever been in 2022, right now. And that’s no disrespect to the talent,” Thomas said on the Ball Don’t Stop Podcast.
We’ve all heard that phrase before. When young player transitions to become a superstar, the game slows down for him. This means that he sees every little detail and nuance as it happens. His decision-making becomes crisper and cleaner.
The two-time All-Star explained his rather controversial take. He compared an NBA game to an open gym. From his point of view, players play 1-on-1 with each other. This makes it easier to score, especially for the best players in the world.
“It’s how the game is played. Spacing. It’s open gym. It’s 5-on-5. It’s AAU Nationals. And I’m saying this with the most respect for the best players in the world. When the best players in the world are able to play 1-on-1, it’s unstoppable. That’s all we’re seeing,” Thomas said.
While some players would disagree with Thomas, his argument is backed up by numbers. Back in the 2016-17 NBA season, teams dropped 105.6 points per game. Today, the current average is pegged at 112.7 points per game. A look at the numbers before reveals that teams are dropping at least 110 points per game, making this era one of the highest-scoring eras in basketball.
Whether you agree with IT or not, it’s a good point of reflection. The game is rapidly evolving right before our eyes. Are high-scoring games a good thing for the game? Will they inspire kids to work on the offensive craft more and disregard their defensive chops? Does the NBA need to be wary of the points that Thomas raised?