The one thing Isiah Thomas was good at, he wasn't really good at

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With Isiah Thomas back in the Knickerbocker fold, his legacy is being re-examined. And as is natural, there’s a counter-movement to the sweeping flood of “What in God’s name are the Knicks thinking?” cries. There are those saying that Isiah’s terrible run with the Knicks is overstated by the media and exaggerated when discussed in retrospect. And the same defense of him keeps coming to the fold, just as it did when he was acquiring Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, and Stephon Marbury for the the same team (seriously, that was his big-name lineup at one point!).

“He drafted really well.”

That’s certainly what we thought while he was in charge. His players seemed like intriguing picks, and his star, David Lee, was a terrific player, even as he was underrated during his time in New York. But was Isiah really that solid of a draftnik?

Scott Carefoot of The Basketball Jones did a little review of Isiah’s drafting history and the results are not exactly enough to convince you he really was that good at the gig:

When you actually look at his track record, his last truly great move
with the Knicks was drafting David Lee with the 30th overall pick in
the 2005 draft. Let’s review his drafting history as the Knicks’ GM.

Year Pick Player Who he could have drafted
2007 23rd Wilson Chandler Rudy Fernandez (24th), Aaron Brooks (26th), Carl Landry (31st)
2006 20th Renaldo Balkman Rajon Rondo (21st), Daniel Gibson (42nd), Paul Millsap (47th)
2006 29th Mardy Collins Gibson, Millsap
2005 8th Channing Frye Andrew Bynum (10th), Danny Granger (17th)
2005 21st Nate Robinson (from Phoenix) Jarrett Jack (22nd), Jason Maxiell (26th)
2005 30th David Lee N/A – great pick
2004 43rd Trevor Ariza N/A – great pick

I
see two great late draft picks early in Isiah Thomas’ tenure and three
awful picks — including the last two selections at the end of his reign
of error. For a former point guard, he sure doesn’t seem all that
effective at recognizing point guard talent.

This is all before we examine the fact that the draft has proven time and time again to be a crapshoot and that you need to not only be extremely shrewd with your selections, but incredibly lucky as well. So before we start telling ourselves that Isiah’s not as bad as we remember, let’s consider that the Knicks only last June gave up the last draft pick Thomas gave away for terrible players, and that they’ll be swapping or giving up their next two in order to make room to sign Amar’e, which then also cost them draft picks.

The devastation continues.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.