Kurt Helin

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers- Game Two

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas: “I wanna be the best little guy to ever play the game of basketball”

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Isaiah Thomas is one of the most entertaining players in the NBA. He is fearless, a little guy (5’9″) driving and scoring among the trees in the NBA — he finishes well, a career 65% inside the restricted area. He plays hard all the time. He’s once and always the Pizza Guy. He was the No. 1 scoring option for the Celtics when he arrived, a time when the team’s offense was in flux last season. He’s a guy Celtics fans are pumped to see back.

Thomas likely comes off the bench behind Marcus Smart — which is the perfect role for him. He’s not a good enough defender to start, but as a scoring spark plug off the bench that changes the game he’s perfect.

Just don’t expect him to be happy with that role — he has much bigger aspirations for himself. That’s what he told Jay King of MassLive.com.

You have to love his confidence. But the little guy mountain is a tough one to climb.

If we define “little guy” by NBA terms to mean 5’11” or under, then who is the best ever in the NBA?

I think Calvin Murphy sets that bar. The Hall of Famer and All-Star was a 5’9″ point guard who averaged 17.9 points a game in his 15-year NBA career, all with the Rockets. He had a career PER of 18.  It’s an impressive resume. (For the record, Allen Iverson was officially 6’0″ and “Tiny” Archibald was 6’1″.) Even the best player 5’11” and under in the NBA right now is Ty Lawson, not Thomas.

But I wouldn’t expect anything less of him than to try to climb that mountain.

Watch Luis Scola drop 35 and 13 to lead Argentina past Canada at FIBA America

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Raptors fans had to feel conflicted.

On one hand, they got to see their new power forward show that he still has a lot in the tank. There are questions about how the Raptors rebuilt their roster this summer, but if he plays like this Luis Scola can answer a few of them.

On the other hand, those Raptors fans are Canadians excited about their strong young national team — and Scola just torched them.

Score one for the old guard as Scola and Argentina beat Canada 97-84 behind 35 points and 13 rebounds from Scola Tuesday. He did it with his deliberate, physical, crafty, below-the-rim game.

Canada’s athletic young team — led by Andrew Wiggins, who had 13 in the game — looked a little tentative in their first game as potential favorites on a big stage. The top two finishers at FIBA Americas get a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and there is an expectation Canada will land one of those slots.

Argentina came out with an intensity and desire Canada did not match. Argentina has been on the big stages before — they are the 2004 Olympic gold medalists — and it showed.

Canada can right the ship Wednesday against Cuba (a game Canada should win handily). From there they should be able to get the wins to get to the knockout stage, and then they just need to play more like Scola and Argentina to advance.

Ty Lawson on coming to Houston: “It’s definitely a breath of fresh air”

Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets
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It’s the single biggest question about Houston’s key offseason acquisition, Ty Lawson:

It a change of scenery and a fresh start what he needs to conquer his personal demons?

This is a man who had two DUIs inside of seven months and just got out of a rehab facility. He has baggage. But some around the point guard said he would change in a new situation and on a winning team where he had responsibility. Houston provides that opportunity.

Lawson also is the kind of dynamic playmaker the Rockets needed to help out James Harden, who had to carry a ridiculous load in Houston last season. Lawson echoed that saying the move to Houston is what he needed, he told Fox News 26.

“Oh yeah for sure,” Lawson said. “I was like before I even came to the team I was talking to James. I was like ‘man get me over there.’ I’ll be that piece to (help) get over the hump. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air….

“I feel like last year watching the playoffs, they definitely need another playmaker,” Lawson said. “You could tell James got a little bit tired. He had to come down and score and make passes every time on the court. So I just want to relieve a little bit of pressure for him the best way I can.”

For Lawson personally I hope this move and this situation are what he needs to get his life in order.

He certainly brings some shot creation and up-tempo play that the Rockets could use. His skill set bumps the Rockets up to true contender status. However, it’s going to take some experimentation by Kevin McHale to find lineups that will keep Houston in the top 10 defensively — playing Lawson and Harden together could supercharge the offense but creates defensive holes. Dwight Howard covers some of that, but not all.

McHale has time to figure it all out — Houston should be a lock as a playoff team and win plenty of games. But they are going to need to be better just to get back to where they were last season in a stacked West.

 

Wizards expect Tomas Satoransky to join them in summer of 2016

FC Barcelona v Olympiacos Piraeus - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Play Off
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Back in 2012, PBT got a first-hand look at Tomas Satoransky at Adidas Eurocamp and came away impressed:

“Satoransky ran the point and played off the ball equally well, and whipped the ball around the perimeter with confidence, always looking to create the best shot for his teammates. When it was his turn to score, he showcased a smooth stroke from the outside, and was able to put the ball on the floor and finish in traffic, as well.”

Washington drafted him in the second round that year (No. 32) and he has gotten some seasoning playing overseas, including for FC Barcelona.

But it looks like Satoransky will join the Wizards next summer to become John Wall’s backup, reports the Washington Post.

Wizards officials met with Satoransky, 23, earlier this month when his native Czech Republic played against Marcin Gortat’s Polish national team in preparation for the upcoming EuroBasket tournament and Washington expects him to join the team next summer, according to a person with knowledge of the situation…

Satoransky is now entering the second and final year of his contract with FC Barcelona in the Spanish League. He has started 42 of 71 games for Barcelona, one of the top clubs in the second-best league in the world, at point guard last season, averaging 8.1 points and 3.3 assists in 20.3 minutes. He shot 54.2 percent from the floor, including 43.5 percent from beyond the arc, and 83.9 percent from the free throw line.

It will be interesting to see how Randy Wittman and Washington uses a 6’7″ point/combo guard, there is a lot of potential there. But we’re a year away from seeing any of it. Just something to watch for next summer.

Kosta Koufos pumped to play for George Karl in Sacramento

Portland Trail Blazers v Memphis Grizzlies - Game One
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Well, there’s one.

We’ll see how the relationship between DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl plays out this season, now that they’ve smoked the peace pipe (or whatever they did when they met). We’ll see how the relationship between George Karl and Rajon Rondo goes as well. Or if the Kings’ players all bond together over their hatred of Karl and that unifies them. Whatever works.

But at least one Sacramento King is pumped to be playing for George Karl: Kosta Koufos. The big man was on SiriusXM NBA Radio and talked about coming to the Kings.

It will be interesting to see how Karl balances the minutes between the veteran but slower Koufos and the raw but athletic Willie Cauley-Stein, and how that balance evolves over the course of the season.

As for the Kings, Karl himself called them “combustible.” I think that’s perfect. Combustible mixtures can become jet fuel, or they can blow up. If feels like the Kings could do either.