Learning from Isiah Thomas’ defense would help Darius Garland
No all-time point guard list is complete without Michael Jordan’s longtime nemesis, Isiah Thomas, of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons. Throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s, Thomas and Jordan battled time and time again in the NBA Playoffs.
In four playoff series’ between 1988-1991, Thomas had a 12-10 record against the Chicago legend. Thomas’ legacy was built around his tough defense and fearless competitive nature. Thomas’ career defensive rating was 107. Trying to score with Thomas on your hip was a near impossibility during his tenure in the Association.
Throughout his 13-year career, Thomas was named to the All-Star team 12 times, league MVP twice, won two NBA Finals, and was named the NBA Finals MVP in the 1990 title run.
For every player, winning the NBA Finals is the ultimate goal. Many great players have never achieved this feat, and winning twice along with a Finals MVP is a career-defining moment.
Once again, much of Thomas’ dominance is due to his willingness to face the toughest battles without fear. Isiah Thomas has become Detroit’s greatest point guard in history by taking the hardest matchups every night out.
Although Darius Garland’s offense continues to grow, his defense falls behind. He has improved since his first year, but Garland struggles against the league’s best guards. For a team defined by defense such as the Cavaliers, Darius Garland should work to have a critical role in Cleveland’s schemes.
Thomas averaged a near-20-point, 10-assist double-double throughout his career, and pairing his offense and defense together molded him into the perfect leader for the Pistons in his era. Garland already has the scoring and court vision. With a more attuned defensive game, Garland can create an even greater name for himself in Cleveland folklore.
Finally, Garland can maximize his value as a teammate that makes those around him better.