Back in 2016, CJ McCollum gave then then-Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas some huge praises while breaking down his game from the 2016 Playoffs.
Isaiah Thomas is one of the very few players who genuinely love the game. Being among the shortest players in the league, standing at only 5-foot-9, IT is the literal definition of “heart over height”. Without any doubt, Isaiah has had one of the oddest stories in the association.
The southpaw was the last (60th) pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, had a pretty good 3-year stint at Sacramento, got elected for 2 All-Star appearances, dropped MVP like numbers while leading Boston to the ECF before a gruesome hip injury caused the Celtics front office to trade him to Cleveland.
Anybody who has seen IT’s game will know he is a straight-up bucket getter. During his prime, Thomas was an absolute menace for the defense to contain. Portland swingman CJ McCollum is one of the many defenders who has tried, and failed, stopping Isaiah from going on a scoring outburst. Back in 2016, McCollum named the 2-time All-Star as one of the “Elite Guards” in his “The Players’ Tribune” article. CJ praised him:
“I.T. is small in stature, but he uses it as an advantage by gaining leverage and attacking angles off the dribble. Russ is a dog. But Isaiah? He’s a pit bull. He’ll go into the paint with reckless abandon. Nine times out of ten, he’s either going to finish or draw some contact.”
Apart from praising Isaiah Thomas, CJ McCollum broke down his performance from the 2016 Playoffs
While dishing out a few praises to Isaiah Thomas, CJ McCollum even brown down some of Thomas’ performance from the 2016 postseason.
“As a defender, I.T. can really frustrate you, because he’s constantly putting you in positions where you can get into foul trouble if you’re too aggressive. Watch how low he stays to the ground here, and his body control as he creates space for himself.
If he goes straight up with that, Horford’s blocking it. But he freezes him and finishes with the tough lefty off the glass.
You might be wondering how he even gets to the paint. He’s got a nice little Smitty move where he takes a hesitation dribble, freezes the defender with the right hand like he’s about to spin, and keeps on going to the baseline. Steve Smith used to do that move all the time, hence the “Smitty.”
Watch the Smitty to freeze the defender at the three-point line here. It’s all about the change-of-pace.
When you’re a 5-foot-9 guard, you need to be able to get shots off quick, and Isaiah does that by pulling up in transition and by taking shots from unusual positions. Let’s see how he deals with a bad pass here.
A lot of guys wouldn’t be able to get that off. Isaiah gathers it with one hand and instantly gets into his jumper. Two things to notice: Watch his footwork, and watch him talking to his man at the end. Talk to him, Isaiah.
When he can’t use the art of surprise, he relies on his change of pace. Let’s see how he handles the end of the shot clock here. He uses the same two-step hesi pullup jumper as Russell Westbrook. Again, watch his feet. He’s got the same bounce as Russ.
Real recognize real, and I.T. is a ridiculously good and effective player.”