Isaiah Thomas is ready to bounce back.
The 30-year-old guard has been limited to just 44 total games over the last two seasons because of injuries. But, he said he believes he can return to All-Star form beginning in 2019-20.
“I’m going to get back to the level that I was playing at,” Thomas told ESPN in a recent interview. “I’m excited to show what I can do again.”
Thomas had hip surgery before signing a one-year, $2 million veteran’s minimum deal with the Nuggets last July. He missed the team’s first 56 games before returning in mid-February.
Thomas, however, was in and out of the rotation for the rest of the season and he did not see the floor in any of Denver’s 14 playoff games.
“Denver allowed me to take really as much time as I needed, to get back to 100 percent health,” Thomas said. “Obviously I wanted to play and I thought I could’ve contributed in the regular season and playoffs, but I understood (the team’s) decision and I think I contributed in other ways as a leader, as someone who was there to answer the questions of the younger guys. I stayed ready and prepared to play.
“When I look at it from the outside, I understood it. I missed 50 games, the team was having a (great) season, and it wasn’t easy to just squeeze me in there when so many guys were playing so well. They didn’t want to mess up what they had going. I understood it.”
Thomas made back-to-back All-Star teams and averaged 25.5 points per game over two seasons with the Celtics from 2015-17. He was sent to the Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving trade and then played for the Lakers before joining Denver.
“Nobody knew what to expect with me coming off hip surgery last year, and two summers of rehab,” Thomas said to ESPN. “Now I can go back to being a gym rat this summer, work on my game again and build my body back up — my muscle mass, my leg strength — all like I had going into the 2017 season.”