The term “skill” has a definition of “the ability to do something well, expertise”. This is why Isaiah Thomas may be the most skilled player on Earth. This does not equate with the “Best Player” Argument, which is consistently dominated by LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook.
Imagine how much skill it takes to be 5’9″, 5+ inches shorter than the standard height for your position, but still place 5th in MVP voting and 3rd in scoring the previous season. A lot of the dominance of LeBron and Durant relies on their height, which allows them to shoot nearly unblockable shots and get to the rim at ease. Thomas lacks this height yet is just as efficient inside the paint and shooting outside of the arc.
Since the start of Basketball, size has been vital to success in the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were both 6’10″+. Michael Jordan was still a large human, at the size of 6’6″. Even great point guards that are considered short like John Stockton and Chris Paul are at an above average height of 6’1″ and 6’0″, respectively.
Considering that the only MVP ever to be under 6′ is Allen Iverson at 5’11”, it is evident that anyone at 5’9″ is at a significant disadvantage as to becoming a dominant player in the NBA. Thomas has to jump seven inches higher than John Wall to get to the same finishing point, yet Thomas is just as effective near the rim. In fact, Thomas outdueled Wall on his way to the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals.
In a game with a rim set at 10′ and the first detail of any prospect is their most important height, Isaiah Thomas-type domination is rare. Thomas outscored household names like Anthony Davis and DeMar DeRozan. This is where his skill comes in.
Without the advantages height-wise of the NBA’s top players, Thomas is at their same level. The amount of skill and expertise needed to be an MVP candidate at 5’9″ is significantly higher than what is needed to be an MVP candidate in the 6’3″-7’0″ height range. That is why Thomas may be the most skilled player in the NBA.
He is forced to rely on his mental awareness rather than his physical ability. There are examples of LeBron without much skill. That comes in the form of lesser players like Nick Collison and Brandon Bass, both of lesser skill, but still in the NBA. There are lots of 6’8″ players in the NBA. There are three 5’9″ players in the entire league.
Any notable 5’9″ player is immediately compared to Thomas. This displays how rare Thomas’ height is in the NBA.
Isaiah Thomas is the most skilled player in the NBA; more so than Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. The list goes on and on of guys whose games are made with the help of their physical frame. Isaiah Thomas executes all his amazing acts not with, but in spite of his small frame.