The Thunder have been playing ball at a level since the All-Star break that could be most favorably described as "uneven." They have stretches of simply breathtaking dominance (4th quarter against the Suns) and then stretches where they seem to have forgotten how to think through a game (Cavaliers loss). This week should be a good challenge then to see how well the Thunder can prepare against various types of teams. We get to see: 1) the always troublesome Rockets (good defense, guard play); 2) the fast and athletic Nuggets; 3) the disciplined and explosive Spurs. Each team will test the Thunder in a different way, so these games will be as much about preparation as anything.
Mayberry wonders if GM Sam Presti has something up his sleeve as we approach the trading deadline on March 15.
If you missed it, rookie phenom Ricky Rubio is out for the season with an ACL tear. Players and fans alike know that the loss of Rubio isn't just the loss of a player, but rather is the loss of an entirely different and better way of playing basketball. Let's hope for a speedy recovery.
In the recent movie "Moneyball," advanced stats savant Peter Brand notes that his approach is to boil the player analysis down to one number. This is not quite true, however. The idea of advanced stats is fully manifest not in the discovery of one number, but in the process of pursuit that is propelled by the idea that one number exists.
Abbott posits something that I've long wondered - why does the NBA still maintain on preventing players from interfering with the ball when it is above the cylinder? I have always equated it with the "force-out" play in the NFL that was done away with a few years ago - when a receiver was trying to land in-bounds after a catch, previously the refs were given discretion on whether they would have theoretically landed in-bounds were it not for the force-out by the defense. Why put that kind of arbitrary pressure on your refs to make a microsecond decision on something where the outcome is undetermined? Instead, just let the players decide the play.
This story is interesting. I was all set to write all about how it seems like the NBA is becoming increasingly draconian with this trend where a pro league seems to have no limits on its authority (think: NFL fining Terrelle Pryor without having any legal authority by which to do so). However, all that has to be taken into the context of...
Any discussion the NBA wants to have about conduct unbecoming of players cannot possibly stand in light of the implicitly endorsed human depravity that is flaunted by the Clippers' owner.
The NCAA tournament starts this week, which means that hundreds of young players are going to be auditioning their wares for NBA scouts. Here are a handful of players from the South region to keep an eye on.
Contrast this with the media freak-out following LeBron James' end-game sequence against the Jazz.
Ray Allen, sixth pick of the 1996 draft class, has maintained his level of play due to a lifestyle that is part by choice and part by inability to choose otherwise.
"Why don't stop talking for a while, Champ."