You may have notice a few changes around these parts. One in particular I’m most excited about is the addition of headlines over there on the right sidebar. That will house all the stuff I used to pass on because I didn’t want to clog up the main page. Minor events, press releases, rumors, news stories, smaller items — all that stuff. Just more stuff for you to click on while you’re either wasting time at work or putting off starting that research paper.
Rob Mahoney of Bleacher Report on Harden winning Sixth Man: “Harden is a wonderful example of player-coach cooperation and, at worst, a third man. Yet because the notion persists that the starters sit on one side of the line and the rest on the other, he’s been made into a symbol of stigmatized exclusion. Harden can’t simply be one of the best in the business. Because he was willing to subscribe to Scott Brooks’ lineup ideals, he’s the best of the rest—an accomplishment that, while impressive, reeks of an odor that only serves to reinforce the idea that bench players are of a different set.”
Trey Kerby of TBJ on Harden: “Justifying this vote is pointless, since he’s been one of the best players in the league this season, regardless of rotation quirks. Harden led all bench players in scoring and was second to Manu Ginobili in PER, while playing nearly twice as many games as his Argentinean likeness. He’s, at worst, the third-best player on the Western Conference’s second-best team and he’s often their best player. He’s got the best beard in the league even though his mom wants him to shave. He might be dating Trina. It’s been a good year. So yeah, James Harden is this season’s Sixth Man of the Year. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Some things are impossible to mess up.”
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on Harden in crunch time: “The Thunder finished the regular season with the league’s second-best offense. And while these charts generally make ball-dominant guards look pretty inefficient (Bryant and Parker, for instance) … Harden is amazing. Three of the Thunder’s five most efficient playtypes are Harden , whether spotting up, isolating, or handling the ball in the pick-and-roll. He’s a very rare player in that even when he is essentially a ballhog, flying solo, he’s still, as the Mavericks will attest, very tough to stop. That no doubt has a lot to do with the many potent offensive players he plays with. The defense can’t just load up on James Harden with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka around. But still — lots of players have great teammates, and very few produce like this.”
Ian Levy of Hardwood Paroxysm with a graph of OKC’s offense: “Looking at the Thunder we see plenty of similarities with the Lakers. Isolations and post-ups, other than James Harden’s incredible iso production, are on the back half of the efficiency curve but are used quite a bit. In fact 58.0% of the Thunder’s possessions were used on that back half of that efficiency curve, almost the same as the Lakers’ 61.0%. The difference is that the back half of the Thunder’s curve is much more efficient than the Lakers’. Russell Westbrook’s pick-and-roll possessions were among the least efficient offensive outcomes for the Thunder, but they averaged 0.86 points per possession roughly the same as Kobe’s isos, pick-and-rolls and post-ups. The Thunder have a similar balance to the Lakers but their offense produced more efficient results because they ran each of those options a little bit more effectively.”
Brian Phillips of Grantland with an open letter to Seattle: “I feel awful about this. I really do. Don’t get me wrong here: I also feel absolutely fantastic. I grew up in Oklahoma during a time — that time ranging from “before the dawn of creation” to “circa 2006″ — when the idea of having a top-line professional sports team within our state borders seemed about as plausible as starting a surfing academy in Tulsa. We were a college-sports state, not because we chose to be, but because we didn’t have the numbers or the money to make a googly-eyed billionaire pay any attention to us. NBA franchises don’t just fall from the sky when you live in flyover country. Where I grew up, the nearest one was a six-hour drive away.”
Kenny Smith talking to the NY Post about Thunder-Lakers: “Over the last year, it’s been the Lakers inability to cover quick, small guards like we have seen with Denver’s Ty Lawson. So, Russell Westbrook can go off on them. They have to at least keep him under control, that will be there challenge. When (Metta World Peace) is back he gets every one playing their right positions. Steve Blake doesn’t have to be a 2 guard, he can be a back up point guard and Kobe (Bryant) can slide over to the 2, and World Peace can move to the 3.”
Dan Devine of BDL on Harden: “What I’m trying to say is that James Harden is just about as good as Manu Ginobili, except 12 years younger and healthier. So, that’s a pretty good thing to be, and to have. Y’know, if you like guys who are good enough to legitimately wave off Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and tear the heart out of the defending champions in an elimination game. Which you should, because that is rare and amazing.”