Wednesday Bolts – 2.8.12

John Hollinger of ESPN.com takes Westbrook as a reserve: “Let’s start by taking our mandated two guards. Westbrook has the best recent historical numbers of the group, leads them all in EWA and has appeared to pay a bit more attention on defense this season, and his team in his first place. As much as we’d prefer he didn’t take pull-up jumpers with 14 on the clock, his overwhelming athleticism still makes him an extremely effective player, and I’d say he has the strongest argument of any remaining player for inclusion.”

The Thunder have three players in the top 10 of the 25 under 25 list on ESPN.com with KD being No. 1: “It would come as little surprise if Durant won multiple MVP awards and multiple NBA titles, as his team is built with an excellent blend of youth and role players with good seasons left in their tanks. Durant also set a new trend by signing his max deal for the full amount of years available. He’s a terrific teammate and is as coachable a player as there is in the league.”

Perk used the Socratic method for something.

Mike Prada of SB Nation on sixth men: “There are all sorts of possible reasons for why the sixth man concept is back, but to me, it speaks to two growing trends. First, coaches are starting to understand the need for spontaneity. The beginning of games has become so regimented. Coaches need to get certain players going, and certain players need to develop the right kind of rhythm. Teams are so concerned with not letting the game get out of hand early that they maintain the same rituals to ensure it doesn’t happen. That means that, early on, games tend to be played to a draw. The true competitive advantage therefore comes when the substitutes enter the game. Good coaches understand the need to find players who can change the pace of the game during those moments.”

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com’s power rankings: “The Thunder’s stars are playing better but their overall performance has stumbled a bit. So the head is shining and brilliant while the body’s kind of knocking into things, clumsily. It’s like Robin Williams in “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” which I’m sure none of you have seen.”

Michael Pina of Shaky Ankles looks at if Serge Ibaka is regressing: “Right now there’s a good chance when Ibaka takes the floor that he won’t get to the free-throw line. He won’t score in double figures or grab 10-plus rebounds. Yes, there’s the near guarantee he blocks two shots, but both are probable to land in a fan’s lap, swatted with irresponsible enthusiasm. Last year Ibaka was the 56th most efficient player in basketball, with the spot up jumper serving the team’s if-all-else-fails weapon of choice. This year he’s the 174th with a little over 20% of his offensive production coming on the backs of others via the offensive rebound. This is awesome in its own way, but in the modern NBA, where the good teams start power forwards who can wander outside and knock down a consistent jumper, if the put back has become Ibaka’s main form of offensive contribution then a problem has been posed.”

KD in graphs.

Perk is worth every penny for things like what he said about Griffin’s dunk: “If I was in the same position, in the same rotation, I’m going to jump again and again and again,” Perkins told Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t care. A lot of people are afraid of humiliation or don’t know how to handle embarrassment or would even get embarrassed. I don’t care. I’m the same Perk you’re going to see. I’m still going to sign autographs the same way. I ain’t going to change. The people that move out the way and stuff are the people who have insecurity problems. That’s my job. How will my teammates look at me if next time I just back out the way and just let him dunk when I’m supposed to be defensive-minded, a shot-blocker? That would be a coward move on me. He’d just have to dunk on me again.”

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com on the tough Northwest Division: “Common denominators in the division’s turnaround? Patience, for one. The Thunder seeded their plan with Durant, Russell Westbrook and a few other deft personnel moves and have given it time to grow. The Wolves might have had no special inklings about playmaker/gate attraction Ricky Rubio when he fell to them in the 2009 Draft, but Kahn, the team’s basketball czar, cultivated a relationship across the Atlantic over two years and didn’t give in to any temptation to deal him.”

5-on-5 asking if the Thunder are the best team in the league with all five saying no.

Blazersedge on what the goaltending call did: “This whistle won’t define his career nor the team’s fate. But it did take away a chance for both star and team to become more than they were in this moment and to travel further down the road to perceived greatness. Now if Aldridge puts another spectacular block on Durant announcers everybody around the league will react with surprise and amazement, saying, “Can you believe that?!?” instead of saying, “This has happened before. Aldridge may have Durant’s number and may be just as potent of a team leader, if not player.” The gulf between those two statements is vast, not only in assessment but in impact and influence on the game, team expectations, and yes, officiating. The edge the latter statement provides is exactly the one that teams like the Lakers, and now the Clippers and Thunder, carry into matchups against less-heralded foes. That edge can easily provide the difference between playoff wins and losses in an otherwise-even contest.”

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