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Jamal Crawford thinks Isaiah Thomas is ‘going to be a monster’ when he returns from injury

 Isaiah Thomas has struggled to come back from a hip injury suffered in March 2017.
Isaiah Thomas has struggled to come back from a hip injury suffered in March 2017.(Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

Former Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas has yet to play in a game for the Nuggets this season as he continues to work his way back from last March’s hip surgery. Suns guard Jamal Crawford, who has been one of Thomas’s closest friends for more than 10 years, said he speaks to the point guard every day. And as the doubters pile on — just as they have throughout Thomas’s career — Crawford said that Thomas is just using it as fuel.

“It’s going to create an even bigger monster, how hungry he’ll be to get back out on that court,” Crawford said. “He loves basketball and he’d be hungry if he missed one game. The fact that he missed all this time, he’s going to be a monster.”

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Crawford said he has consistently told Thomas that he is built to overcome obstacles like this latest one, because he has done it throughout his life. The 5-foot-9 point guard was the last pick of the 2011 draft and was mostly discarded by the Kings and Suns before emerging as a two-time All-Star in Boston.

But the hip injury he initially suffered while playing for the Celtics in March 2017 has been difficult to recover from. He continued to play and made the hip worse in the 2017 playoffs, and then appeared in a total of just 32 games last year with the Cavs and Lakers, shooting a career-worst 37.3 percent from the field.

Last summer Thomas, who once had visions of signing a maximum-salary contract when he reached free agency, inked a one-year deal with the Nuggets for $2 million, the veteran’s minimum.

“With him, nothing’s ever come easy, so why expect it now?” Crawford said. “Not that he did, but in general that’s just his journey. He’s doing well, considering everything. He’s working to get back. He loves the game as much as anybody I’ve ever been around, so I know it’s killing him.”

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Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.