One of the more impressive aspects of Jason Terry’s 16-year NBA career is reflected in how his success has paved the way for a new generation of “combo” guards around the league. After all, though Terry is only 6-foot-2 and a point guard by height, he never played the position in the traditional sense.
Instead of focusing exclusively on distribution, the energetic Terry helped prove that point guards with a scorer’s mentality could succeed in the modern NBA.
So when asked by The Players’ Tribune for his selection of a deserving All-Star who hasn’t yet made the team, the Houston guard’s answer felt very fitting: Boston’s 5-foot-9 spark plug Isaiah Thomas.
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) January 15, 2016
“Isaiah is like a little Mighty Mouse,” Terry wrote. “He’s feisty. His energy is infectious. He’s always the smallest guy on the court, and he plays every night like he’s trying to prove something — like he’s trying to make you see him for his game, not his size.”
Terry noted that Thomas is one of only six NBA players adding 21-plus points and 6-plus assists per game this season. The others — Stephen Curry, LeBron James, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook — are all reigning All-Stars.
“I never doubted his skills or his work ethic,” Terry wrote. “It was his size that had me doubting if he would ever become a superstar. But he defied all odds and continued to work extremely hard, and that’s why he is where he is today.”
Terry elaborated further on that work ethic, saying he saw it from the moment he met Thomas — when he was only in 6th grade.
“I used to be that guy in the neighborhood, out late, playing until the street lights came on,” Terry wrote. “But he took it to another level, and that will always stick with me. That’s the work ethic he’s always had, and still has today.”
When the Thomas-led Celtics faced off against Terry’s Rockets this season, “Mighty Mouse” scored 23 points in just 24 minutes on a blistering 9-of-12 from the field. In addition to winning the game, it appears to have also secured Terry’s respect — and even a hypothetical All-Star vote.
Ben DuBose is a veteran sports reporter who has followed the Houston Rockets and the NBA since Hakeem Olajuwon was Akeem Olajuwon. He writes for both SheridanHoops and ClutchFans, an independent Rockets blog. You can follow him on Twitter.