Mark Jackson: Klay Thompson is a top-five shooting guard

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Warriors coach Mark Jackson has never been shy about praising his players, once calling Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson the best shooting backcourt of all time.

It’s also becoming increasingly popular to claim high rankings among shooting guards. Just by chance, that’s the weakest position in the NBA right now, so marginal players at the position rank higher than usual.

So of course, Jackson took this opportunity to make a bold claim about Thompson.

Jackson on Thompson, via Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News:

“He’s a top-five (shooting) guard in this league,” Jackson says, “and I’m being respectful.”

Actually, that’s not so bold.

As a point of reference, ESPN’s #NBARank projected before the season began Klay Thompson would be a top-five shooting guard. Here are the five shooting guards who appeared in the top 60 of all players:

4. James Harden

18. Dwyane Wade

25. Kobe Bryant

59. Joe Johnson

60. Klay Thompson

Since, Thompson has exceeded most expectations.

He’s averaging 20.9 points per game and shooting 55 percent from the field and 51 percent on 3-pointers. His PER, 21.55, ranks behind only Kevin Martin and James Harden among shooting guards.

All things considered, I’d rank Thompson fourth – behind Harden, Wade and Kobe.

Thompson has actually played better so far this season than Wade and Kobe (who obviously hasn’t played at all), but that’s a small sample and the two older players have been so good for so long that they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

But I think Thompson has actually passed Johnson without anyone catching him from behind, though Bradley Beal is within striking distance and Martin looks very good so far.

Really, Jackson is selling Thompson short. Until the coach claims Thompson is better than Kobe, this isn’t that controversial.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.