Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future

Go down

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Empty Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future

Post by bobheckler on Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:07 pm

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2379891-isaiah-thomas-addition-is-huge-step-in-right-direction-for-boston-celtics-future



Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future
By Michael Pina , Featured Columnist Feb 27, 2015



Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Hi-res-bcf2ddceeb4f23418adf5bebed933bc9_crop_north
Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' FutureMatt York/Associated Press


It’s been roughly 10 years since the Boston Celtics had a consistent, efficient offensive weapon on their roster. Someone who lives at the free-throw line, draws double-teams off the dribble, turns pick-and-rolls into unsolvable riddles and launches fireballs from the three-point line.

Isaiah Thomas appears to have ended the drought. But the decision to send Marcus Thornton and a 2016 top-10 protected first-round pick (via the Cleveland Cavaliers) to the Phoenix Suns for his service was still met with several questions.


Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Hi-res-1106ac106cb86537227db117b5aa65bb_crop_exact
Elise Amendola/Associated Press


Why would Boston want another point guard with Marcus Smart already on the roster? Isn't it tanking? Why would would it surrender a first-round pick for a 26-year-old already in his prime? These questions are reasonable but lack context and fail to account for Boston’s enviable (and virtually unprecedented) position as a rebuilding team that has another franchise—the Brooklyn Nets—losing on its behalf.

Thomas improves the Celtics’ flexibility, increases their chance of making the playoffs and alleviates an unwatchable offense. There’s nothing wrong with having more than one ball-handler on the floor in today’s NBA. In fact, it’s preferred. Thomas should complement Boston’s young guards more so than block their progress, and head coach Brad Stevens isn't afraid to lean on three-guard lineups.

Thomas can penetrate, draw help and create open shots. He can also stand in the corner, give ball-handling teammates more than enough room to operate, then knock down spot-up looks when they pass him the ball.



Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Hi-res-2edce61723d7836a8afaca2d40c28004_crop_exact
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


The Celtics not only got the most talented player in the deal, but they also acquired one of the league’s best contracts (after this season Thomas is owed a little under $20 million through 2017-18, on a deal that decreases annually).

Per ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg, here’s what Celtics general manager Danny Ainge had to say about Thomas after bringing him to Boston.

"Isaiah is a dynamic offensive player whose scoring and playmaking abilities add to an already well-rounded backcourt with Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. We are excited to welcome Isaiah to the Celtics family."

We’re dealing with a sample size of three games, all against bad defensive teams, but according to NBA.com Boston averages 114.3 points per 100 possessions with Thomas on the floor. That would make it the best offense in the league by over four points. He’s shooting 48.3 percent in clutch situations and 57.9 percent in the restricted area (better than Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker).

On the day of the trade deadline, the Celtics had the 23rd-ranked offense in the league.


Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Hi-res-3054f3618d07a666ca6bf99ef3371ce2_crop_exact
Chris Carlson/Associated Press


Forget about his aesthetically brilliant playing style for a second (it’s hard, I know), and just focus on Thomas’ production. Almost every offense-related stat smiles at the 5’9” point guard.

Going back to opening night with the Suns, his player efficiency rating, true shooting percentage, free-throw rate and three-point rate are all way above league average.

In three games with Boston, Thomas’ usage percentage spiked to an insane 34.8 percent (only Russell Westbrook’s 37.8 percent is higher), but, somehow, his true shooting percentage still hovers above the 60 percent mark—something only 12 players, and four guards, in the entire league are doing right now—which is an incredible testament to how well he carries an offense.

According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus stat, Thomas is the 10th-best offensive point guard in basketball and 20th best when accounting for all positions. He’s really good—a star in certain respects. He'll fill one of Boston’s most visibly vacant holes and make it better in a race for the playoff’s No. 8 seed. Any team could use his scoring ability, especially out of the pick-and-roll.

The Celtics have been the NBA’s fourth-worst team scoring out of the pick-and-roll this season, per NBA.com. Keep in mind that this number includes earlier times before Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green were dealt. But between Smart’s inexperience and understandable hesitation, Bradley’s laser-beam focus on pulling up for mid-range jumpers and Evan Turner being Evan Turner (though overall he’s been better than expected!), they've sputtered to a measly 0.71 points-per-possession average.

On the other hand, Thomas is in the 98th percentile as a pick-and-roll scorer since putting on a Celtics jersey. (In a much larger sample size with Phoenix, Thomas still nearly cracked the 70th percentile, averaging 0.84 points per possession. He’s really, really good.)

Defenses know Thomas can transform into a Tasmanian devil once he turns the corner, so they try like mad to trap him high and force the ball from his hands. This is so much easier said than done, and even when they succeed in forcing a pass, Thomas is skilled enough to whip it along and find an open man. He's unselfish.

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future 51062f5b14941fc2dcf4aa70b61e97a3
NBA.com


And this is what happens when the screener’s man sags back instead of aggressively meeting Thomas at the point of attack. The little dude is fast enough to blow by any forward in the league, and on this particular play forces a “break-in-case-of-emergency” rotation by Earl Barron. Brandon Bass is one happy camper.

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Cde4d3093f17d0072e00694cc1a2e62c
NBA.com


In addition to assuaging one of their prime weaknesses, the Celtics targeted Thomas because he’s a snug fit in their uptempo system. Stevens wants to play fast and loose, thus bringing in a speedy guard who wreaks all sorts of havoc in transition makes a ton of sense. Thomas is one of the most unpredictable attackers in basketball. He breaks defenses down off the dribble, can pull up from anywhere at any moment and should give Boston’s fast attack another dimension.


Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Hi-res-4d971372fd7ecd31891ea08fc7c21641_crop_exact
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


Defense is unquestionably a negative, but the aforementioned gasoline Thomas pours on his team's offense more than makes up for it. With a contract that's both team-friendly and a highly useful trade asset, the Celtics found a very good player at an even better price.

Ainge won’t hesitate to flip Thomas down the line if the opportunity to make Boston better presents itself. But for now the team is perfectly fine where it's at. Thomas is a bite-sized heat-check-in-waiting. The type of scorer who silences opposing runs and brings fans to their knees.

For an incredibly low price, Boston acquired one of the NBA's most thrilling individual commodities. It was a steal and partly explains why Ainge is arguably the best general manager alive.



All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com, unless otherwise noted.

Michael Pina is an NBA writer who’s been published at Bleacher Report, Sports on Earth, FOX Sports, Rolling Stone, Grantland and a few other very special places. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVPina.




bob




.
bobheckler
bobheckler

Posts : 45831
Join date : 2009-10-28

Back to top Go down

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Empty Re: Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future

Post by Sam on Sun Mar 01, 2015 3:27 pm

Bob,

It's interesting to note the following two stats.

Before Thomas joined the Celtics, they averaged 100.8 ppg.
Since Thomas joined the Celtics, they're averaged 111.8 ppg (a 9.1% increase)

(I think points per game is more revealing than shots per game because ppg includes free throws, and ppg implicitly is influenced by field goal and free throw shooting percentages)

Before Thomas joined the Celtics, they averaged 14.0 fast break ppg
Since Thomas joined the Celtics, they've averaged 16.5 fast break ppg (a 17.9% increase)

Aside from Isaiah's individual stats, he has also been a catalyst for the pace of the entire team.

Sam
Sam
Sam
Admin

Posts : 22660
Join date : 2009-10-10

http://samcelt.forumotion.net

Back to top Go down

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Empty Re: Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future

Post by bobheckler on Sun Mar 01, 2015 3:40 pm

sam wrote:Bob,

It's interesting to note the following two stats.

Before Thomas joined the Celtics, they averaged 100.8 ppg.
Since Thomas joined the Celtics, they're averaged 111.8 ppg (a 9.1% increase)

(I think points per game is more revealing than shots per game because ppg includes free throws, and ppg implicitly is influenced by field goal and free throw shooting percentages)

Before Thomas joined the Celtics, they averaged 14.0 fast break ppg
Since Thomas joined the Celtics, they've averaged 16.5 fast break ppg (a 17.9% increase)

Aside from Isaiah's individual stats, he has also been a catalyst for the pace of the entire team.

Sam


sam,

I'd love to know the before/after stats on ftas too.

I'll bet if they broke down stats to show "ftas while in the bonus", and I'm sure they do somewhere, there'd be a HUGE jump after Thomas' arrival.


bob


.
bobheckler
bobheckler

Posts : 45831
Join date : 2009-10-28

Back to top Go down

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Empty Re: Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future

Post by Sam on Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:00 pm

Bob,

Yes, that would be an interesting stat.

Sam
Sam
Sam
Admin

Posts : 22660
Join date : 2009-10-10

http://samcelt.forumotion.net

Back to top Go down

Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future Empty Re: Isaiah Thomas Addition Is Big Step in Right Direction for Boston Celtics' Future

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum