Friday, November 09, 2007

Thank Goodness For Tyrus Thomas

I was planning on writing about the Mavs-Warriors game tonight, what with the recent history between those two teams and all, but I knew that anything going down in Oakland was going to be upstaged sometime late in the third quarter of Bulls-Pistons.

The plan is to do quite a bit of blogging on Thursday nights during the NBA season. Even though I have the League Pass this year and therefore can see most any game, there is still something about watching the TNT crew do its thing. Plus, it is near the end of the work week, so I can afford to stay up a bit later to bang away on the old laptop.

Anyway, tonight's entry is about Tyrus Thomas and about how much fun he made tonight's game to watch. He clearly isn't the answer to the Bulls' lowpost scoring needs (they will FOREVER regret not dealing Deng for Gasol and I will swear by that until the end of time), as he is still skittish and erratic in the paint and has very few - if any - polished scoring moves in the paint. (By the way, don't try to tell me that Joe Smith is the answer to this problem either, because The Man Who Was Worth Seven Draft Picks isn't much more than a lesser version of Kurt Thomas - a smart veteran who can play position defense and hit the 15-foot jumper on a pick and pop). But aside from the fact that TT is the Bulls' power forward, yet can't give them power forward offense in the half court, this guy is the best thing smokin' (as rapper Young Dro would say) in Chicago. He is fast, athletic, and never stops moving. It is refreshing to see a player move constantly without the ball - on both ends of the court - even if he has no assurances that he's going to touch it at any point. He has very active hands, good timing, and (obviously) amazing leaping ability, so he's good for three or four highlight plays a night. Throw together his ability to create turnovers, the offense he manufactures on garbage plays, and his tendency to move the crowd and I would argue that Thomas is the most exciting player in a Bulls uniform this season.

And Thursday night's game was great, because it was an opportunity for Thomas to break out on a national stage. It didn't hurt that he was the key guy in getting the Bulls their first W of the season.

That said, the best thing about Ty Thomas' coming out party didn't even have anything to do with Thomas himself. Because the very best thing about the way Thomas played tonight was the effect it had on Rasheed Wallace.

I know Sheed missed a couple of times down the stretch when the game was in reach, but aside from that, the man with the crazy white spot on his head played like a man possessed, going for 36 and 9. Seriously, when was the last time Wallace went for more than 30 in a game? (Answer below). When was the last time you saw him defending the paint AND gobbling up boards in the same contest (he usually does only one or other other). Or how about draining deep threes as the trailer on the secondary break AND taking Thomas down in the post for some lessons (he also typically chooses only one of these as well). For one night - and maybe just one night - Sheed really did look like one of the best big men in the game, not just a guy with "the ability" to be one of the best big men in the game (as we hear on every telecast).

And that's what made Thursday night's Bulls-Pistons game so exciting.

(A few throwaway thoughts while we are here: Noah made a bunch of really nice passes tonight that proved why his ceiling his higher than Side Show Bob's, the Bulls are much better when they let Hinrich create as a true point than when they try to use that stupid weave/handoff system, Ben Wallace took four of the worst shots I've ever seen in an NBA game, the Pistons are going to be really tough if and when Maxiell gets more run and Stuckey gets back from that injury, and, finally, Chris Duhon is bad at basketball.)

(Oh, and the answer to the Sheed question from above ... he last had 30 in a game way back in November of 2005 when he had 33. The last time he went for 35 or more was January 15, 2003 when he went for 38 against Memphis. Thing about that - this is the most he's scored in almost five years! And all because Tyrus Thomas made some flashy plays and got his blood pumping. Great stuff.)

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