When the Celtics traded for Isaiah Thomas in 2015, they thought they were getting a solid scoring guard off the bench. You know…a Vinny Johnson or a Dana Barros. What they didn’t expect was a guy that takes over games in the fourth quarter who averages more points in a season than any Celtic in the past 40 years besides Larry Bird. Thomas continues to impress and many fans who thought his height would present limitation are quickly learning that he’s one of the most skilled scorers in the NBA today. Thomas is proving virtually everyone wrong.
Paul Pierce is finishing his NBA career out this year. Well…let’s hope so! He has fallen off of a cliff since he joined the Clippers last year. It’s time to let go, Truth! However, as we all know, Pierce was as good as they came in his prime when it came to scoring the ball. Pierce could create his own shot. He got to the free throw line frequently. He was also a very good shooter. As Pierce finished out his career with the Celtics, he was being compared to Larry Bird as the Celtics best all-time scorer. This comparison was a bit over the top in the opinion of this blog, but it certainly deserved at least a mention.
The game is on the line. You need one point to win. You can isolate Larry Bird in his prime or Paul Pierce in his prime. Who are you taking? Certainly, clutch play is different than scoring play. However, Bird is underrated in terms of his ability to create his own shot. His post game was also outstanding while Pierce’s was mediocre. Bird was the best scorer in Celtics history and you would give the ball to him in this situation EVERY TIME. End of story.
What about Pierce vs. Thomas though? In terms of longevity, we’re all taking Pierce. He played fifteen seasons with the Celtics and made the All-Star Team ten times. The biggest reason why he made those All-Star Teams? It was because he was a great scorer. Thomas, on the other hand, has only played with the team for two years. He averaged 22 points a game last year which was a great season for him. This season, he has taken it to a completely different level. He’s averaging 28.2 points a game and he’s doing it in many different ways. He gets to the hoop. He is a fearless shooter especially at the end of games. He is the true definition of a great scorer. He’s been compared to Allen Iverson and that comparison is not far off at all.
Has there ever been a point where Paul Pierce was a better scorer than Isaiah Thomas is right now? The answer is no. Pierce was certainly a more complete player than Thomas is right now. Outside of his scoring, Thomas is a limited player and there are even times when Brad Stevens needs to remove him from the lineup in key situations due to his defensive liabilities. However, strictly from a scoring standpoint, Thomas is more impressive.
Celtics Top Scorers since 1980.
- Larry Bird
- Isaiah Thomas
- Paul Pierce
Thomas continues to improve as a scorer. Let’s make one thing clear though. He’ll never top Larry as a scorer.