Hello, March. February was a bit unkind to the Thunder; let's hope that spring brings us renewal with new players and a new outlook. I know I can't wait until Kendrick Perkins gets out on the court and starts crushing people with high screens. It's a beautiful thing.
Royce Young puts together some good footage featuring James Harden while he was guarding Kobe Bryant. The duo of Harden and Thabo Sefolosha limited Kobe to 8-22 shooting; I think it's fair to say that defense wasn't the Thunder's problem on Sunday. Two things I like about how Harden defends - he gets up into Kobe with his body, and he doesn't fall for pump fakes. I think Harden knew that Kobe couldn't go past him, so he committed to sitting down and playing Kobe straight up. Well done.
Here is a worth while read about two young men who are trying to break into the NBA. Ever since I watched the documentary "Hoop Dreams," I think I always examine cases like these with a cautious eye. I think, generally speaking, we as a people want to root for kids like these. Unfortunately, what often gets lost is the staggering percentage that most will not make it, and there are a thousand reasons why.
David Aldridge breaks down the winners and losers of last week's trading frenzy. Front and center of course is Mr. Presti and his strong acumen in making the right kind of deal.
Speaking of numbers, HoopSpeak takes a look at a number that HoopData calls the "Assist +" which is an assist that leads to a made 3-point shot. In essence they've weighted the stat to reflect the fact that a three is worth more than a two. Derrick Rose only averages about eight assists per game, but two of those assists will lead to three's. If you look at Russell Westbrook's stats, you can see that he has a bit of a barbell weighting - he has a lot of assists at the rim and a lot for 3-point shots. Unfortunately for him, the Thunder are a much better mid-range shooting team than deep shooting team.
More links after the jump.
Parity seems like it would be a good thing, because it would even the playing field more and better distribute talent. Count me firmly "No Thanks" category. I'd much rather have six or so legit "superteam" contenders around. We'd like to think that the existence of "bad" teams makes the NBA unwatchable, but I don't think that's true. What makes the NBA unwatchable is 25 teams that are more or less the same. We've been down that road, and I prefer the one we're on now.
This story highlights something kind of amazing - for years, NBA naysayers have crowed about how players only care about money. Suddenly, we find ourselves in an NBA environment where players forgo money in order to play with their friends, and still they wail. I'm beginning to think that what they're really not a fan of is the NBA itself.
We've been able to get a glimpse at Cole Aldrich as of late, with Perkins not quite ready to suit up. His minutes have been sparing and his overall court awareness is still green, but one thing you can see is that he wants to be an aggressive defensive player.
This story is written from the Trailblazers' perspective, but it is worth considering for the Thunder as well since they still are about $3.4 million under the salary cap.
Mahoney gets all meta on us with this examination of how the newer generation of NBA fans has fallen in love with metrics. He writes about what it means to chase what we might call "the final number" - that statistic that is so perfect that it tells us everything we want to know about player X. We know of course that no such number could possibly exist, but it is the idea of the pursuit of it that keeps the process relevant.