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Loud Links: 12|07|09

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Plus/minus debate rages around league |
[The Oklahoman looks into the plus-minus stat.] When Jackson arrived in Los Angeles, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti handed Jackson a packet of print outs that included plus-minus, a daily ritual when Vitti worked for Pat Riley. "I told him to throw it away," Jackson said. "I’ve never consulted those. I know there is some value to it. But to me, it’s an instinct by a coach. ‘This group is going pretty good. I think I’ll leave them in there.’ But obviously there’s some merit to it. You can’t throw it all out."

Riley, now the Heat’s general manager, said he devised his own plus/minus rating 30 years ago. In Riley’s formula, he grades players in all areas, including effort, then shows players their best five games as a standard to shoot for. "We wanted to quantify an across-the-board evaluation," Riley said. "We’d take pluses and minuses over 48 minutes played and used those numbers to motivate. I liked it when a player came up to me every now and then and asked, ‘Coach: How am I doing in plus/minus impact?’" Most players claim they either don’t understand the stat or say it has minimal value. Miami star Dwyane Wade said he was glad when the Heat stopped using Riley’s plus/minus impact rating. Wade said he wasn’t always ranked high and that it sometimes hurt his confidence.

Some of Durant’s teammates scoffed when asked if the stat showed Durant was overrated last season. Nenad Krstic said Durant is a future All-Star. "I don’t understand it," said Russell Westbrook. "I don’t know what they were talking about. It obviously wasn’t anything good they were saying (about Durant). But I don’t know what it meant or what they were trying to say."

Last Night in the D-League; Big Men Run This League - Ridiculous Upside
[Ridiculous Upside looks into DeVon Hardin's development with the 66ers.] This is hyperbole, but DeVon Hardin is killing this Tulsa team. The overall rebounding numbers are there, true, and he had seven last night, but he gets lost on defense and overeager to block shots and allows his man to score too easily (did you see Dorsey's and Harris's numbers in the preceding paragraph?). He also doesn't have the burgeoning offensive repertoire that Byron Mullens does; all Hardin can make at this point are dunks and layups, and even then he blew several layups in this game. I haven't really seen anything from him to justify his starting spot or the 28 minutes-per-game that he's averaging. I've said before that he's talented, but the 66ers have two other talented power forwards, Keith Clark and Latavious Williams, who deserve playing time as well. Williams played just under eight minutes last night, all in the first half, and finished with six points, two rebounds and a steal. He also made both of his free throws, whereas Hardin went 1-4. Even giving Hardin somewhere around 20 minutes a night, upping Williams to 10-12 minutes (consistently, no more of this DNP stuff) and keeping Clark at his 15-17 average (rather than the six minutes he played last night) would help improve all of those players' games in the long run and maybe even send a message to Hardin that he needs to focus.

Thunder Insider: The Jeff Green Barometer |
"He’s a very integral part of our team," said Durant. "He’s one of our leaders, so we depend on him a lot. We’ve got to continue to encourage him and feed him the ball and make sure his confidence is always up." Confidence has rarely, if ever, been an issue for Green. Consistency, on the other hand, is where Green must continue to step up and emulate Durant, who’s numbers only take a slight dip in losses.

Point guard Russell Westbrook, oddly enough, averages more points, rebounds and steals in losses than wins. But perhaps a more pertinent stat is Green’s production when Durant scores 35 points or more. The Thunder is just 1-3 in those games. Green eclipsed his season average of 14.3 points only once, shot just 40 percent and averaged a mere four rebounds in the three losses. In the one win, a 127-108 victory over Washington, Green had 19 points and 14 rebounds, providing Durant with a steady and sufficient second option. "Jeff is a strong-minded player, so I know if he has a bad game, the next one he’s going to have a great one," Durant said.

Sunday Discussion: The Ibaka Conundrum | Daily
This is why, no matter how much I selfishly want Serge Ibaka to play 25-30 minutes a game, I understand the nights that Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic and even Jeff Green eat up those minutes with their veteran savvy and (at least fewer) mistakes. Ibaka, as all rookies do, especially rookie bigs, will get into foul trouble, he will turn the ball over, he will be out of position and he will make mistakes to the point that I fear I might punt one of my remote controls into my television and then be in a world of hurt.

He’s young, he’s inexperienced and he’s trying to adjust to so many different things that he continues to amaze me in that regard alone. But he also shows flashes, flashes of post dominance and offensive ammunition far exceeding the "raw" moniker he was given when he submitted his name in the 2008 NBA draft. Quick glimpses of shot-blocking rage, rebounding fervor only matched by black-holes and his sweet, effortless jumpshot force me, once again, to wonder if 14.4 minutes a game is enough for him RIGHT NOW, and not because I want him to develop faster, but because when the stars align and the game slows down for him, Serge Ibaka is the most dominating post presence the Thunder have and have had since the franchise’s relocation to Oklahoma City.

Where to now for Portland? - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN
In a roundabout way, it's unfair to Pritchard too. I know what you’re all thinking, so before we go any further: All you second-guessers out there, just stop it. All 30 NBA general managers were prepared to take Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. All of them. There wasn't even any question about it. One can fairly ask whether this consensus was borne more of the hope that infects every personnel evaluator upon seeing a talented 7-footer than of common sense. That said, it's hard to single out a front office for doing what everybody else would have done too.