Zach Lowe of Grantland on OKC’s offense: “Again: You could define “greatest” in other ways if you’d like. Michael Jordan shooting 54 percent with sky-high usage rates in his prime is pretty nutty, though 3s were not a big part of his game for much of that time. Everything Wilt Chamberlain did was pretty nutty. Steve Nash was typically just over 50 percent in his four campaigns, but he shot proportionally more 3s and had free throw percentages approaching 94 percent (on relatively few attempts, compared to the Nowitzki/Bird/Durant trio). Bird shot fewer 3s — about three per 36 minutes — but he attempted more 3s by himself in the mid- and late-1980s than two or three teams each season. Context matters. Please don’t call Larry Bird an “overrated shooter” without doing your homework. Durant has a half season to go, obviously. But appreciate what’s going on here. This is one of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of basketball, and the amazing thing is, he’s still not the best player in the league or the MVP.”
Kobe Bryant in an interview with ESPN the Mag: “Who would you most like to play one-on-one, either active or retired? Jordan. No question. What would happen? I’m not sure, but he would win some and I would win some in a seven-game series. It would probably come down to the last few shots. You versus LeBron? Who wins? Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it. Damn. That’s pretty confident. LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who’s an all-time great. But I’d get him. Who could get you? Kevin Durant is the guy that would give me the most trouble. With his length and ability to use the dribble he’d be tough.”
Tom Ziller of SB Nation picks All-Star reserves: “This is not even a question. Fact to know: Westbrook is just barely behind Chris Paul in assist rate, which is the the percentage of a player’s used possessions that are assists. Russell Westbrook! They said as recently as a year ago that he wasn’t a real point guard!”
Kobe was asked what other teams play defense like Miami: “Oklahoma. That’s about it.”
Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas writes OKC’s success justifies the Mavs’ plan: “Plain and simple, the Mavs needed to get much better to have a chance to compete with the Thunder for the foreseeable future. Yes, even though Dallas dismissed OKC in a five-game 2011 West finals. That was a case of a veteran team peaking at just the right time and a baby-faced bunch learning some hard playoff lessons. The lightning-in-a-bottle Mavs got to pick on their little brothers one last time. The Mavs’ best players from that team get further from their prime each year. The Thunder’s best players, the freakishly talented 24-year-old tandem of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, just keep getting closer to their prime.”
Kevin Durant shoutout on The Office last night. Kind of cool.
Ian Thompson of SI.com on Serge Ibaka: “The dominance of Durant and Westbrook raises the healthy question of whether there is room for a third star in Oklahoma City. It became easier to put things into perspective when Harden emerged as an explosive star in Houston — a role that he never could have established while trying to complement Durant and Westbrook. While Ibaka is worthy of All-Star consideration from the Western Conference coaches, who should appreciate his across-the-board impact on the best team in the conference, he’ll be unlikely to approach 20 points per game as long as he’s playing in the seams between his prolific teammates. He is an emerging star in the mode of Rasheed Wallace, Buck Williams or Horace Grant — an unselfish big man whose team couldn’t contend without him. At one end of the floor Ibaka shoots a high percentage, and at the other end he holds opponents to low percentages.”
KD wanted to play for the Raptors as a kid. Did not know that.
Ben Golliver of SI.com breaks down the worthiness of the All-Star starters: “Even with an extremely deep West frontcourt pool to contend with, Durant’s ticket to Houston is just as inarguable as James’. The Point Forward’s first-quarter MVP selection has been mind-blowing. Durant trails James in PER by a fraction of a point and is averaging 28.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks. Durant is challenging for his fourth scoring title in a row, he is on pace to join the ultra-elite 50/40/90 shooting club and he has the Thunder tracking toward one of the most dominant regular seasons of the past decade.”