NBA basketball may not be a thing for Jeremy Lin. Good thing he stayed in school.
He went to local yoga classes, set up local workouts and shot regularly on the same high school court he won so many games as a Hilltopper. Onalaska basketball coach Craig Kowal was always there to open those doors, and Thomas said he shot alone and with his sister, Josie, who plays at the University of Dubuque.
“It was stressful because I didn’t know for sure what was happening,” Thomas said from Phoenix on Wednesday. “It was great to spend that time and the experience with family, but then I had to leave pretty quickly.”
Shooters are king in the NBA, and the 6-foot-5 Thomas has always been a darn good one. The fact that teams in the league were thinking about adding him wasn’t a shock.
He was in his house — more specifically his mom Martha’s house — when the call came, and there wasn’t much time to process it. Thomas was soon off to Toronto for the chance that every player in his position wanted. The NBA champions wanted to sign the guard to a three-year contract.
“Joy and excitement,” Thomas said of his reaction to the news. “Then it starts to sink in. I start to think about all of the hard work over the course of my life while hoping to get to this point.
“It’s an entirely new challenge for me, and I will start at the bottom.”
The deal was announced on July 1 and became official on July 19.
The experience, he said, was also nice to share up close with his family. Josie and his brother Tony also visited Onalaska while Thomas was home and the contract negotiations active.
O’Neal finished with 13 points, including seven free throws, and Nwuba added three points of his own. Tuff Crowd’s roster was bolstered by the recent addition of former Oregon State guard Gary Payton II, who finished with eight points and four rebounds, as well as Raptors forward Stanley Johnson, who finished with 21 points and five rebounds.
“You’ve got to stay tough against top players,” Nwuba said. “We’re playing against NBA talent going hard out here every week – it makes you better.”
Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell joined Public Enemy earlier in the summer, but he was not in attendance Sunday.
Tuff Crowd is currently tied for sixth in its division, with the top eight teams making the playoffs. The team’s regular season concludes next week against Young Citi, which is tied for the division lead with Public Enemy.
Alongside Leonard, Lowry could finally excel in silence. Lowry’s a No. 2 option at best and always has been. He’s the prototypical championship point guard with his combination of leadership, defense, playmaking, and shooting.
He could finally be the best version of himself. For years he’d been asked to do more than he was capable of – shoulder more than he could realistically manage. With an elite talent by his side, Kyle Lowry could be Kyle Lowry.
Lowry had another stellar regular season and was named to his 5th straight all-star team. His sturdy played continued into the playoffs where he averaged 15/5/7 along with 1.5 steals on 44/36/80 shooting splits.
The Raptors clawed their way through an immensely talented Eastern Conference and made it to the franchise’s very first NBA Finals. They’d go on to take down a hobbled Golden State Warriors outfit, 4-2.
In Game 6 came the most fitting of moments. Mr. Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry took the game by the scruff of the neck. The ‘choker’ and the so-called perennial loser thrived on the biggest stage of all.
Lowry scored Toronto’s first 11 points on 4/4 shooting and finished the quarter with 15. He’d finish the night with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Raptors were crowned NBA champions.
The potential to develop into an NBA player, because it’s important to note, he is not there yet.
Offensively, Boucher has the theoretical ability to be a stretch five. However, despite his bravado, he’s a still below-average outside shooter. His handle, passing, and screen-setting all need work if he wants to play on the perimeter.
Boucher dominated the G-League by rim-running and finishing around the basket. He’s solid but relatively average in those areas at the NBA level. If he wants to improve he desperately needs to gain 20+ pounds and improve his ability to finish in traffic.
On defense, Boucher shows flashes of an impact player. He has good instincts, very good athleticism, and unbelievable length. However, he can be caught over helping and needs to harness his energy more positively.
Boucher needs to be reigned in to be effective. That’s OK. It’s better to have to calm a player down than to try to light a fire. He has the same problem, but to a lesser extent at the G-League level. More reps and time on the court is what Boucher needs the most right now.
At this point, Boucher is more theory than production. He comes in swats a few shots, launches a few triples, but he’s not actually contributing to winning. It looks as if he is Robin still trying to learn Batman’s utility belt. But the potential is there. Can he and the Raptors reach it?
“Free agency has been tough because I feel like, in some ways, the NBA has given up on me.”
We’re rooting for you, J Lin 🙏🏼 (🎥: NBA Reddit) pic.twitter.com/pqdJpA3TMp
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) July 28, 2019
This summer’s free agency has forced him to face a different question than the doubts and pain that come with injuries, or the anxiety of a potential trade. This low was more existential: What happens if winning in Toronto is followed by there being no new jersey to wear next season?
“I got my first year in after injury and I know what it’s like and next season it’ll be different. But then free agency came around, and this was the last straw that broke the camel’s back,” Lin said during an appearance on GOOD TV, a Christian television station in Taiwan, pausing as applause echoed in the room from those gathered to watch him speak.
Screams of “I love you” can be heard. He gathers himself, and presses on.
“Man it’s hard. Life is hard. Cause I’ve always wanted to do things the right way, and I’ve given more of myself to God every single year, and every year it gets harder. In English, there’s a saying, when you hit rock bottom the only way is up, but rock bottom just seems to keep getting more and more rock bottom for me. So free agency has been tough, cause I feel like in some ways the NBA has kind of given up on me.
“… After the season, I had to get ready for this Asia trip. And it was the last thing I wanted to do because I knew for six weeks I would have to just put on a smile, I would have to talk about a championship that I don’t feel like I really earned, I would have to talk about a future that I don’t know I want to have, and honestly it’s just embarrassing and it’s tough.”