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.
When last we saw Boston point guard Marcus Smart, he was grabbing his hand in pain in Las Vegas — he dislocated two fingers in a Summer League game.
It was a pretty nasty injury, take it from someone watching from the baseline of that game. It was not only going to mess up his ability to play any craps in Las Vegas, but it was also going to limit his training to get ready for the season for a while. He could do cardio, but there wasn’t going to be any dribbling or shooting for a stretch.
That period is about to end, reports Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
Smart was always expected to be fine and ready to go full speed in training camp; this ended up just being a summer setback.
The Celtics will have an interesting point guard rotation this season. I expect that Smart will start, with Isaiah Thomas coming off the bench and getting a lot of minutes (and a lot of love from the fans), but Brad Stevens will also want to get rookie Terry Rozier some seasoning.
A contingent of current and former NBA players have spent the past week in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the league’s annual Basketball Without Borders clinic. But this year’s edition of the event is special in that it includes the NBA’s first-ever officially sanctioned exhibition game on the content of Africa. The game features a team of African NBA players including Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo against “Team World,” which features the likes of Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Marcus Smart and the Gasol brothers.
Fans in South Africa got an extra surprise during the game on Saturday: two of the most legendary African players in NBA history, and two of the most important ambassadors for the sport in Africa, suited up along with the current players. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and second all-time leading shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo checked into the game in throwback Rockets and Nuggets jerseys, respectively:
Olajuwon scored on the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic using his patented “Dream Shake”:
And Mutombo got a stop against the Jazz’ Trey Burke:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week that it’s only a matter of time until the NBA plays a regular-season game in Africa. This exhibition game is just the first step in that direction. But it was cool to see two legends in action alongside current players helping to grow the sport all over the world.