Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
To be honest, I never doubted his skills or his work ethic. It was his size that had me doubting if he would ever become a superstar. But he defied all odds and continued to work extremely hard, and that’s why he is where he is today.
That’s why I say if this was a players’ vote, Isaiah Thomas would be an All-Star. He’s well respected by his peers because we all appreciate the guys who work hard day in and day out and we understand how tough it is to carry a team consistently, night after night. And he’s not just doing it by scoring. He’s doing it with assists — by facilitating — and with his contagious energy.
That’s what makes a leader.
That’s what makes an All-Star.
That’s why he’s got my vote.
The Players’ Tribune – Why Isaiah Thomas is an all-star
Budding author Jason Terry penned this a few days ago in support of fellow Tacoma/Seattle-native Isaiah Thomas. Celtics fans see nightly what Thomas means to this team and the campaign to get him to Toronto next month seems entirely provincial at this point. He’s ninth in voting among guards in the East and unless he’s voted in as a reserve, the most court time IT might see is on Saturday night during the skills competition.
It’s nice to see Terry vouching his support. Players around the league have to understand just how impressive Thomas’ season has been to date for a few reasons: One, on a team that is often starved for offense, Thomas is one of the only players on the team that can create for himself and teammates with the ball in his hands. Opposing teams know this and can key in on Thomas as the Cs go-to scorer. Two, with offenses paying attention to him, he almost always has to create his own separation as the smallest guy on the court. In the same way fans were always impressed with Allen Iverson’s sheer will and determination to score as the little guy, fans in Boston show that respect and awe, too.
Let’s hope some player support from around the league generates enough buzz to get Isaiah on the roster next month. The guy completely deserves it.
On page 2, Jae Crowder returns to Dallas, reflects
The Celtics were high on Crowder when he was acquired, but even they could not have fully anticipated the way he has blossomed here. A key part of Boston’s second-half surge to the playoffs last season as a reserve, the Celtics re-signed Crowder to what now seems like a bargain five-year, $35 million extension this past summer, and he’s rewarded them by finding another level as the starting small forward.
On Monday night, Crowder returns to Dallas for the first time since being traded away. He’s offered nothing but praise for his time with the Mavericks, the team that plucked him 34th overall in the 2012 NBA draft and helped him develop into a rotation-caliber player. But with the Celtics, Crowder found a chance to fully showcase his talents, and there’s a case to be made that he’s been Boston’s best two-way player this season.
Crowder ranks 23rd in the NBA in ESPN’s real plus/minus metric. He elevates to 19th in RPM wins, an estimate of the number of wins a player has contributed to his team’s total this season. At 5.45 wins, Crowder is six spots ahead of Thomas (4.71), while Jared Sullinger (47th, 3.55), Amir Johnson(52nd, 3.28), and Kelly Olynyk (64th, 2.75) are the only other players for Boston ranked among the top 150 in the league.
Among small forwards, a super competitive category topped by some of the NBA’s biggest names, Crowder ranks sixth in both RPM and RPM wins behind only Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Crowder is third among small forwards in defensive RPM trailing only Leonard and James.
I remember the day the Rondo deal went down, I turned to a friend and referenced Crowder as: “that guy who pretty good on Buzz Williams’ Marquette teams.” Little did we know that a little over a year later, Crowder would feel like an indispensable player on a rebuilding Celtics team full of dispensable guys.
Sometimes guys need a change of scenery to grow into their own skin as an NBA player and feel a sense of belonging. Tony Allen didn’t become Tony Allen until he arrived in Memphis; Bruce Bowen is another former Celtic who didn’t hit his stride until he arrived in San Antonio.
Crowder passes the eye test as a guy who leaves it all on the floor every single night of the season, and the numbers are backing it up, too. If he can continue to hone his three-point shooting and work on his own shot creation, Crowder can become a borderline all-star.
He returns to Dallas tonight, the place where his NBA journey started as a little-used energy guy off the bench. Tonight he’ll play a far larger role on a team that sees him as much more than an energy guy.
The rest of the links:
Boston Herald – Celtics Notebook: Avery Bradley aims to find shooter’s rhythm