6. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
The shortest guy in the NBA is one of the big-time point guards, and one of the best sub-six-foot players the NBA has ever seen. At 27, Thomas is about to enter his prime, and he’s already thriving after one full season in Boston. Averaging 22.2 points and 6.2 assists, Thomas cemented himself as a cornerstone for the Celtics, and Danny Ainge–hopefully–doesn’t intend to trade him anytime soon.
His numbers only tell half the story, and once you watch him, you’ll see why he’s on the cusp of cracking the top-five. Despite being listed at 5-9, Thomas is incredibly athletic and has a big body, allowing to get to the lane and draw contact, or bounce around defenders with a variety of reverse layups and floaters. His ability to shoot also helps him get to the lane because, while he’s not a lights-out three-point shooter (35 percent), he’s the kind of guy who’ll knock down open threes. The only noticeable hole in his offense is the lack of a mid-range shot, and an improvement there would take Thomas’ game to another level.
It’s a paradox, but for a small player, Thomas isn’t a total defensive liability. Sure, he gives up some size, but he makes up for it with his strength and athleticism–Boston was also one of the best collective defensive units in the league, and having exceptional help prevents constant exposure.
Next: No. 5