Saturday, January 9, 2016

Being a Realist - Isaiah Thomas is Not an All-Star

My twitter feed has been lit on fire with #NBAVote. While I love how the NBA is embracing the 21st Century and I am sure has engaged a younger audience, (which every league, not just the NBA needs to capture for continued sustainability and profitability) it also brings out more subjectivity than objectivity.

I am aware, that fan voting is about connecting to your player of your team. Heck the Red Sox have had numerous players in the final vote as it were, where "the fan" can bring one player from each league to the game to show "your" teams passion. And Boston is definitely a passionate town. We vaulted Kevin Garnett as the top vote "getter" in the 2008 All-Star Ballot. However, he deserved to be an All-Star.

The All-Star Celtic being pushed this year is Isaiah Thomas. This is just not being a realist. I have been a Celtic fan for over three decades and I love MY Celtics and in those 30+ years, we have had some All-Stars, 139 selections to be more precise (I'll just go as far back as 1980): Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Lewis, Tiny Archibald and to a lesser extent, Antoine Walker and Danny Ainge.

You could say Isaiah could be better than Danny Ainge if you were to compare stats and might be at the end of his career (Although Danny was one hell of a scrappy player). And most people on Twitter I have encountered use those said stats: Tweeting how Thomas is averaging 20.7 points and 6.8 assists. If you're going just on Stats, I can see your argument. At this point in the season, he has better averages than Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry all who have significant All-Star vote totals greater than Thomas.

The eye test tells a different story and the stats are a bit inflated. Have you watched Isaiah play defense? No really, have you? He rarely, if ever squares up defensively constantly positioning himself in a help stance. Now, that's not necessarily bad directing a player to where you know you have help, However, he almost never switches and if he does, it's an incredible mismatch. He cannot defend the pick and role. He always tries to go over the top, (Yes, you say he has to protect against the 3) but Crowder or Amir pick up his man and Isaiah is left in limbo. When they play zone, once his guy gives up the ball he relaxes. Have you seen Smart play the same zone, he drops down between his man and the ball and swats at the defender creating pressure without completely leaving his man alone.

No, No, you have it all wrong you say. Isaiah is our offensive play maker, commenting on his consistent 20 points a game. Oh really, if you call being 1-15 going into the 4th quarter the other night against the Pistons an offensive spark plug. Yes, he finished 6-20 and 22 points but we gave up multiple leads, specifically a 9 point 4th Quarter lead.

All-Stars take over the game, make that shot that seals the game, like Kobe did in the December 30th game against us. All-Stars take the ball to the hole without losing the handle multiple times. All-Stars make the opposition look silly with hesitation dribbles (which Isaiah does against marginal teams but not elite ones) True All-Stars can play on both ends of the floor, every game, every night.

I will be the first to to admit I am hard on Thomas. I see the ceiling and he's not close to it. I want to see him have a consistent 3-1 assist to turnover ratio. I want him to be able to hold his own on defense, especially in the fourth quarter. I want to see him score twenty-four points a game and go to the basket looking for the jugular when we are up ten, instead of settling for a three, getting us in the bonus early, capitalizing on his strength, free throw shooting.

Most importantly, I want to see him stop talking about lack of set rotations, not getting calls and telling the media we have to be better. I want him to BE BETTER and lead this team. He does this, he will be an All-Star and he won't have to have RE-TWEETS to get him there.

But right now, this year, Isaiah Thomas is not an All-Star. I'm just being a realist.