Isaiah Thomas stars in G League debut as he continues fight for an NBA roster spot

Former NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas last played in an NBA game in April 2021 with the New Orleans Pelicans and has been struggling to find a home on an NBA roster ever since.

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He took another step toward his goal, signing with Grand Rapids Gold, the G League affiliate of the Denver Nuggets, which seeks to use the G League Showcase to show NBA teams that he can still contribute at the highest level.

In his Gold debut, Thomas did more than that, exploding for 42 points, eight assists and six rebounds on 16 of 30 shooting, knocking down five 3-pointers.

Thomas has continued training after last playing on a 10-day contract with the Pelicans, preparing for Team USA in the 2023 FIBA ​​World Cup Qualifiers in November, averaging 21 points in two games. , including a triple that seals the game over Cuba. .

“The ultimate goal is to get back to the NBA,” Thomas said while playing for the United States National Team.

The 32-year-old recently told him Shams Charania of Athletic how close he came to landing a spot on the roster in the offseason after some successful workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer, yet Rajon Rondo rounded out his roster after receiving a purchase from the Memphis Grizzlies.

“It was very close,” Thomas said. “I really think that if the Rondo purchase hadn’t happened, it would have been a Laker.”

“All respect for Rondo and respect for the Lakers organization. I was a little close to those guys. I was able to train with ‘Bron and Westbrook. So they have seen me in my element and they have seen me go back to being the person that I am. “

With 60 players entering the league’s health and safety protocols, including 43 this week, due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, several teams are selling out, meaning Thomas could hear his phone ringing, with teams capable of signing players on the 15-man roster. limit, under the league difficulty exception.

Former NBA guard Lance Stephenson was also on display for the Gold, scoring 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his 131-127 loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, as he also seeks to use the G League as an avenue of back to the league.

The 2021 G League Showcase features a single elimination tournament in which eight teams will compete for the Showcase Cup Championship.

The fight to be part of the eight-team Showcase Cup field began on November 5, when the 29 teams from the G League and NBA G League Ignite split into four regional groups, playing 12 matches against each other in local markets. of the NBA G League.

The teams with the best winning percentages in each regional group, along with the next four league teams with the best winning percentages, will play for the Showcase Cup Championship during the Winter Showcase. The remaining teams will each play two games outside of the Showcase Cup Tournament during the event.

The field is yet to be set up for the G League Showcase, with the “regional pod” schedule scheduled to conclude on December 17.

The G League Showcase will begin on Sunday, December 19 and conclude on Wednesday, December 22.

The team scouts and executives will be present to evaluate the players.