Rob Mahoney of Bleacher Report on Durant and Westbrook: “Many are apparently unsettled by that juxtaposition of styles, or more accurately, unsettled by Westbrook. He will always have his critics, and they will always have their very narrow view of what Westbrook is and should be. Too often ignored is the fact that Westbrook’s on-court mania is much more of a blessing than it is a curse; that his vision, while imperfect, is still incredibly productive; and that deepest, darkest secret of them all — that Durant needs Westbrook far more than most know. They’re a fitting tandem, and more important yet: a highly effective one. Their contrast (and James Harden’s mediation thereof) has come to define not only what makes the Thunder interesting, but also what makes them great.”
Marc Stein’s power rankings: “Reassuring to see OKC mow through Portland in Sunday night’s late ESPN game because its humdrum 6-4 record since the All-Star break leading up to the Blazers’ visit — which included three home L’s — was starting to make me think last week’s tongue-in-cheek Curse of Kate Upton line had some actual merit.”
NBA.com’s rankings: “Neither the Heat nor the Thunder is their best basketball of the season right now, but you know they’ll both be up for their two meetings in the next couple of weeks. Sunday’s game in OKC will be their first meeting in over a year. And if it’s a Finals preview, it will go a long way in determining home-court advantage.”
Dre of Wages of Wins on signing Fisher for leadership: “As for Fisher’s leadership? If this is truly a quality that people are looking for, than let me offer an alternative. Barack Obama is a basketball fan (apparently it’s in his DNA). He also has a pretty decent set of basketball knowledge and clearly has a great deal of leadership on his resume. The president’s salary is roughly $400,000, which is below the NBA league minimum. Team’s are content with Fisher’s poor stats because of his great leadership. If team’s want to pay for that though, I’d say Obama is a superior choice and his price tag is lower. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that Fisher has just been lucky to play on good teams. It’s possible that such players get more credit than they deserve. But if that’s not the case then here’s hoping Obama likes your team!”
If you missed it yesterday, KD signed with Kobe and James Harden’s agent Rob Pelinka.
BBall Breakdown on why Russell Westbrook will never win a title: “In the last 30 years, there has NEVER been a team that has won a title where the point guard has taken more than 19% of his team’s total shots, adjusted for any games he didn’t play in. “But Coach,” you’ll say, “the Triangle offense was the reason the numbers are like that.” Fine, take out those Bulls and Lakers teams and it still doesn’t matter. When you have a player whose responsibility is to be in charge of the ball, and he tilts the shot distribution too far in his favor, it hurts the team. That team might win a lot of games, they might get through a round or two of the playoffs, but sooner or later, after enough of his teammates hustle down court to their spots only to get whiplash watching Westbrook’s shots go up so fast, they’ll stop playing hard. It might be imperceptible, just barely noticeable, but it’s there. Enough trips down the court where Ibaka doesn’t get to at least touch the ball, he might not soar as high as he needs to get that next block, Durant might not fight around a weakside screen as hard (“What’s the point, he might ask himself, Russ is gonna toss it up anyway?), and the Thunder stop making winning plays.”
I don’t agree with everything in the breakdown video with that BBall Breakdown post, but it’s certainly very interesting and there are a lot of good points. Makes me wonder: I wonder if teams track the percentage of a player’s shots that turn into offensive rebounds. Would suggest smart shot selection, no?
Quality response to the breakdown. Here’s why I don’t agree with everything from Coach Nick: A basketball game is a very fluid thing and bad things like rushed shots or bad defense happen. You can find Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, LeBron, KD, whoever doing exactly those same things. Russell has a lot of room to improve, which is one of my favorite things about him.
Berry Tramel on Nick Collison sticking with the Thunder: “Teams often try to keep their stars as the core, and rotate role players in and out of the roster over a period of years. But the Thunder has made Collison a virtual lifer; he’s under contract through summer 2015. Sam Presti gave Collison a huge signing bonus in November 2010, which basically made Collison a $13-million player for that season. But the payoff was that Collison would remain a Boomer the next four years, making $3.2 million, $2.9 million, $2.5 million and $2.2 million.”
Darnell Mayberry on consistency: “The Thunder at times has shown its ability to maintain a high level of focus. The team started the season on a five-game winning streak and bounced back from its only two-game losing streak of the year by stringing together seven straight wins. But blemishes and setbacks have dotted the schedule every three games or so dating to a stunning three-point road loss at Washington on Jan. 18. If the monotony of the schedule or the mediocrity of recent opponents has contributed to the Thunder’s inconsistency, then the current stretch should grab the team’s full attention.”