The Engine That Could
When Isaiah Thomas was selected with the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft to the Sacramento Kings few people around the league thought he would stick on an NBA roster. Much to everyone’s surprise the 5 foot 9 point guard had a standout rookie season and posed as threat to be a starter heading into the 2012-2013 season. Franchise player Demarcus Cousins was not enjoying Thomas being a scoring point guard. This led Cousins to make a big stink of not getting the ball or being the focal point of the offense and revolted about Thomas. In typical Kings fashion Thomas was traded to Phoenix despite averaging 20.00 points per game for a player who never played for Sacramento. In Phoenix Thomas only started one game sharing point guard duties with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. This worked for a season then it came crashing down to reality when Phoenix got off to an underwhelming start during the 2014-2015 season. Finally at the trade deadline Phoenix sent him to Boston for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first round pick.
Since the trade Head Coach Brad Stevens gave Thomas the keys to the offense resulting in his first all-star selection last season. With an arsenal of moves Thomas possesses he becomes a very tough guard each night. Thomas blows by bigger point guards off the dribble and use his small frame to weave through traffic to find the best shot for his teammates. In the pick and roll Thomas is too much to handle, the opposing guard can’t duck under the screen due to Thomas having a good jump shot. If the defender goes around the screen this will give Thomas enough time to get to the lane where he is at his best by using a deadly floater.
Boston had the best off-season in the Eastern Conference. Adding Al Horford from Atlanta gives Boston the flexibility it needed at the power-forward position. Boston replaced Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger with one player in Horford who will shoot, pass and rebound better than Sullinger and Turner. This completes a starting lineup filled with versatility in Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Horford and Amir Johnson. The process to build the roster might have taken time but the Celtics are back and they will be a dominate team in the East for years to come.
Five things to look forward to as a Celtics fan for the 2016-2017 season
1. The last chance to say thank you to Paul Pierce when the Clippers come to town during his farewell season.
2. The gift that keeps on giving in the 2013 NBA draft night trade with Brooklyn. Boston will have the right to swap first round picks in a loaded 2017 draft class. How will Brooklyn ever recover from one of the worst trades in NBA history?
3. Marcus Smart to emerge as the #1 player off the bench. Creating a three headed monster in the back court with Thomas and Bradley.
4. Having the luxury of watching an exciting player like 2016 #3 overall pick Jaylen Brown develop with no consequences to the team’s record. Look for Brown to earn playing time due to his work ethic and being a good teammate that the veterans want him to showcase his talents.
5. Waiting in suspense when President and GM Danny Ainge will make a trade for a star player or stand pat with the roster. Ainge is always full of surprises and has the pieces to pull off any trade he wants.
The Celtics are expected to run away with the Atlantic division, capture the #2 seed for the playoffs by sporting a regular season record of 57-25. Only to fall short to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Thomas and Horfod will be the all-star selections and Brad Stevens will be in the running for coach of the year. Sit back and enjoy the freight train that is Isaiah Thomas this season you won’t want to miss it.