<![CDATA[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.
After Embiid, the first-year player making the biggest impact so far has probably been Malcolm Brogdon, a solid bench guy on a scrapping-for-a-playoff-spot Bucks team. The Hernangomen—Willy of the Knicks and Juancho of the Nuggets—have been solid as well, albeit in limited minutes. Alex Abrines has been… fine. Yogi Ferrell had a nice two-week run. Rodney McGruder has played some good defense. Dario Saric, Embiid’s teammate, has made some plays, but he can’t shoot and has left plenty to be desired on the other end of the floor. (Yes, there have been several other solid but unremarkable rookies. No, we’re not going to list them all here.)
Vice Sports abusing advanced statistics here. Win Shares (which this article relies heavily on) are a strictly offensive metric, as is Value Over Replacement Player. And Jaylen’s numbers for the full season do not reflect the progress he’s made. So far, Jaylen Brown has started 15 games. The Celtics have lost two of them. He is the primary reason why they were able to weather the loss of Avery Bradley without falling in the standings.
And in those 15 starts, Jaylen filled the off guard spot, a position that few people expected him to be able to play when he was drafted, much less defend.
Advanced statistics are not a substitute for observing players. Grabbing a few figures and using them to proclaim Malcolm Brogdan a rookie of the year candidate because of how his name pops up when you sort an Excel spreadsheet, despite the context of his numbers (on a Bucks team that is free to experiment with him because they’re short on players and not exactly winning a bunch of games), is intellectual laziness.
I’m not going to position Jaylen Brown in this year’s rookie of the year contest because I haven’t seen enough from other rookies. I suspect that if the Vice Sports writer above used the same judgment, he wouldn’t have even written the article.
Page 2: Let’s enjoy some Jaylen Brown highlights
Page 3: The Celtics romped
“Right now I think the fans and media will probably build up the rivalry more than what we’re looking at in our locker room,” said Walton. “Because where we’re at, it’s about trying to get better at what we’re doing. Boston’s a very good team. They’re second in the East right now. They’re playing for something completely different.”
Even while saying that, Walton could not have anticipated how violently the Celtics would gash his team. He could not have expected Amir Johnson’s big night (13 points, six rebounds, four assists), Boston’s 70-point first half, or the Celtics lead reaching 30 points early in the third quarter. Midway through that period, Isaiah Thomas provided the highlight of the night by leaving an alley-oop off the backboard for teammate Jaylen Brown. Even after letting up for a bit later, the Celtics crushed the Lakers, 115-95.
This was not exactly a rough start to the Celtics’ other West Coast road trip, and it was nice to see the team stay on task, rather than turning in a dud after an emotional win over Cleveland.
Page 4: Let’s put to rest this “Isaiah wants to go to LA” nonsense
Isaiah Thomas loves being a Celtic. He loves that he is now the face of the franchise, he loves the rich tradition, and he loves the rabid fan base.
Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, it is also true that he always wanted to be a Los Angeles Laker, and that dream lingered long after he entered the NBA.
Thomas’s father’s interest in the Lakers has been well-documented, and he passed that down to his son at a young age. Then in 2011, Thomas worked out for the Lakers prior to the draft, and he thought the team would use one of its four second-round picks on him, but it did not. Then when he was a free agent in 2014, he had preliminary talks with the Lakers, but the team was reluctant to make a move as it waited to see if it could lure Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles. So Thomas signed with the Suns.
All along, Thomas’s fascination with Los Angeles endured, to the point where he said he desperately wanted to join the franchise somehow.
“I used to, before I got on the Celtics,” Thomas said on Friday before the Celtics’ 115-95 victory. “But yeah, for sure.”
One of the most tired narratives in the NBA is that of the Lakers’ mystique. The Lakers’ ownership and management have a thoroughly unfounded confidence in their ability to land ‘star’ players. It is one of the primary reasons why they are in the state they’re in. They could have signed Isaiah Thomas–if they had recognized what Isaiah Thomas was capable of. Instead they were trying to lure Carmelo Anthony away from New York, on the basis that, well, who knows exactly what their pitch was–apart from “endorsements! build your brand!! play with Kobe’s corpse!!”
Frankly, it’s ridiculous that people still think the Lakers would now be a draw for a guy who is as competitive as IT is, and who has positively thrived in an environment that is as healthy as the Lakers’ environment is toxic these days.
The rest of the links
MassLive: Guerschon Yabusele injury: Boston Celtics draft pick sprained ankle in China | 2017 NBA Draft news: Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas believes Markelle Fultz will be No. 1 pick — and that the two could coexist
ESPN Boston: Rookie Jaylen Brown brings some showtime to Celtics]]>