Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas is the heart of this years team. His leadership is felt through his play on the court, but not just in the numbers he accumulates in the box score. Thomas is the smallest player in the NBA today, yet he muscles his way to the basket again and again. He's never afraid of taking that big shot in the closing seconds of a tight game. In a recent conversation on his new gig with TNT Kevin Garnett praised Isaiah for his tenacity. Via Chris Forsberg, ESPN:
"Isaiah's got so much heart and he plays so big. Very gritty, very tough," Garnett said during a segment with Rasheed Wallace in which the former NBA stars debated whether they would rather have Thomas or Cleveland's Kyrie Irving taking a final shot. "It’s a point guard league. The point guard matchup is very difficult. ... I love Isaiah’s heart. Your point guard, a lot of times the identity of your team starts with your point guard. Isaiah, I love his heart and how he plays."
Talking after practice on Monday, Isaiah was grateful and appreciative of the comments from the The Big Ticket - a player he has always admired and aspired to emulate:
"I’m the 5-9 Kevin Garnett. That’s who I want to be," said Thomas. "[Garnett's praise] means a lot. For a guy I looked up to, who I knew I would be nothing like [in size], but just the way he prepared himself, the way he didn’t back down from anybody, and how he was so locked in. It was amazing to see that up close. For him to say that about me, that says a lot."
Obviously IT and KG couldn't be much different in terms of size, stature, and role they play on the floor. Even though they share very different assignments in the scheme of basketball, they both can have a similar effect on the game. When the 2nd-generation big three was in power in Boston, they looked to Garnett to make a big play on defense or a monster dunk to set the tone. More often than not, when those Celtics needed a boost KG would deliver. Now Isaiah is that emotional leader. Whether it's putting his head down and getting to the rim when the offense is stagnant, or leading the fast break off a Celtics turnover - night in and night out Isaiah provides that energy.
He's off to a hot start this season, averaging 26.2 points and 6.8 assists through six games while shooting 49.8% from the field. But the question always arises - can you be a championship level team if Isaiah Thomas is your best player? Some would argue that Al Horford is the best player on this Celtics team, but I think the separation there either way is negligable. Most of us would agree that this team is still a player or two away from being a true contender, but even some former players turned analysts think it's possible that given some of the recent contending teams, IT could be the best player on an NBA title team.
Check out Tracy McGrady, Chauncey Billups, and Jalen Rose argue the point over on ESPN:
Billups believes you can win a title with sub 6-foot star https://t.co/IH04eA4GSy— Mark Allison (@MarkAL401) November 9, 2016
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Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL410 Mark Allison 11/09/2016 12:15:00 PM Tweet Edit