Henry Abbott says KD has flipped the script on his plus/minus issues: “It’s a new season, though, and players Durant’s age improve quickly. And so far this season? Kevin Durant may have the greatest plus/minus improvement in NBA history. He was one of the very worst players in the league by that measure last season, and now he’s second-best. Only Dirk Nowitzki rates better in Wayne Winston’s adjusted plus/minus. As of today, Durant’s Thunder are giving up 11.5 fewer points per hundred possessions when he’s on the floor. And they’re scoring 13.75 more. That’s unbelievable.”
One note on Henry’s old article and this one. I would hope people don’t do the stupid thing and say, “Oh, it looks like Abbott has changed his mind about Durant… now he sees how he was wrong.” Because that’s a stupid thing to say. Henry just presented numbers. The plus/minus stat, which is a widely accepted stat, so much that it’s in NBA box scores, said Durant was not helping his team last year. Of course I disagreed and gave what I thought was a good explanation for it, but regardless, that’s what the numbers said. Now Henry is presenting new numbers saying Durant has drastically improved. A lot of that is because of the team improving around KD, but also a reward for Durant’s extremely hard work in the offseason. So this article is no admission of fault, it’s just another in a series of following Durant.
David Thorpe, ranking the sophs has Russell Westbrook fifth: “Westbrook’s shooting woes and poor shot selection continue to hurt him. More than two-thirds of his shots come from the perimeter, where he’s shooting less than 40 percent (and just 31 percent from 3). But his energy and athleticism are still having a positive impact. More importantly, he is managing the game better and quarterbacking his team into playoff contention.”
Randy Hill of Fox Sports looking at the quarter-pole of the NBA season: ”Our quarter-pole Coach of the Year is Oklahoma City Thunder sideline boss Scott Brooks. As the leader of the league’s youngest core rotation, Brooks has overcome turnover-producing inexperience on offense and developed the NBA’s fifth-most-efficient defense without the luxury of a certified baseline bruiser or shot-blocker. Kids who play team defense? That also makes Brooks eligible for the surprise list.”
SI’s rookie rankings: “Harden is just beginning to transfer his talents from the college game, where he was an aggressive scorer who got to the free-throw line more than any player in Arizona State history outside of Ike Diogu. Against the Warriors on Monday, Harden scored a career-high 26 points and went 13-of-14 from the foul line. He also didn’t have a single turnover (while his team collected 19) in the Thunder’s 104-88 win.”
Tommy Craggs of Deadspin follows up on OTL’s report on white guys in the NBA: “There’s Mark Schwartz making his Concerned Face and firing some heat at poor Wayne Embry, who bumbles into saying that the NBA’s legalization of the zone was a sop to the white kids. And then there’s someone, I can’t recall who, suggesting that white players like McAlarney don’t get a shot because they’re unfairly stereotyped as bad defensive players, which, if you’re like me, is roughly the point where you threw the remote at the television.”
KD, Russ, Jeff Green and James Harden broadcasted on UStream last night and I watched about 10 minutes. Let me tell you, those guys really like each other. I’ve got to think not too many other teams are in their hotel room watching SportsCenter at 10 p.m. One funny moment: Someone asked if KD if he’ll be in the 3-point contest. Durant quickly answered, “Ppsh, I’m shooting 28 percent from 3. I ain’t good enough from there.” Hmm, so he IS thinking about it…
Yannis Koutroupis on how deep this year’s draft is on the big men: “The biggest knock on Greg Monroe has been his inability to dominate like he’s fully capable of. He’s been compared to Lamar Odom throughout his time at Georgetown because of his versatility. Unfortunately he’s also shared Odom’s most detrimental trait: passiveness. There were too many times as a freshman Monroe allowed himself to just be another player out on the court, rather than the standout he should be. He’s working on it now and making strides, evident by his career game of 25 points and 14 rebounds against Butler earlier this week.”