As an NBA point guard, Isaiah Thomas has the distinguished honor of guarding players like reigning MVP Stephen Curry.
Thomas recently provided a glimpse at the challenge posed by players like Curry as a contributor for The Players' Tribune. Thomas detailed his scouting report for some of the top ballhandlers in the league, including Curry, Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, James Harden ... and himself.
Here's his report on the Warriors guard:
With Steph, you’re always guessing. That’s what makes him so dangerous.
First off, you gotta respect the three, cause if you don’t, he’ll light you up from the outside. That’s where everything starts for him.
Steph plays like he’s a wide receiver in football running an option route on every play. Everything he does depends on what the defender is doing. So when he’s coming at you, if you’re afraid of the three — which you should be — and you give him too much space, he’ll knock it down. If you play too far up on the three, he’ll take you off the dribble. If he beats you on the first step because you were playing too far up, say goodbye. He’s already gone. If you sink back with him, he has the shiftiness and the quick release to step back and shoot.
And the worst part is that he’s such a good passer, nobody’s leaving their man to step up and help. You’re on your own.
I don’t think he ever goes down the court thinking “I’m pulling up” or “I’m taking it to the basket.” He reads the court so well that he doesn’t need a plan. He can just rely on his instincts and react to the defense, and he can do it all, so he takes whatever you give him.
You can’t tell me he planned this:
He uses the pick to split the defense, then runs into two bigs who stepped up. Between the legs, behind the back, step back, bucket. Four defenders within arm’s reach, and they’re still no match for Steph.
You’ve all seen this one, too:
You have to really sell it if you’re gonna get a guy to bite on the move to the basket, and even then, you gotta have the quickness and control to stop on a dime to create that separation.
Chris Paul is one of the best defenders in the NBA — not just at point guard, but period. And Steph put him on skates because when he went behind his back and faked baseline, he sold it, and CP3 had to respect it. As soon as CP3 committed, Steph knew he had him, and he had the quickness and ball control to pull the ball back behind his back and create the shot.
A lot of guys have a skill set that includes the ability to drive, pass and shoot. But not a lot of those guys also have the handles to do everything in between and create any of the three for themselves.
Thomas will match up head-to-head with Curry twice this season. The Warriors face the Celtics on Friday, Dec. 11 in Boston and on Friday, April 1 in Oakland.