Nick Collison, the crowned prince of funk and good cheer, played four minutes and twenty-three seconds last night. He did not score, did not grab a rebound, did not get an assist, did not block a shot, and did not get a steal. He turned the ball over once. He fouled no one. He was a plus three. At this point I believe Collison could play legless and still come out on the positive end of the plus/minus. He’s an untouchable and I would give him the very breath from my lungs if he ever needed it.
Unless there’s injuries or foul trouble, the man does not get significant minutes ever. His true age is unknown, but educated guesses place him somewhere between the Mesozoic era and Moses. And still, Randolph gets up to go in and Billy D walks to the bench, pulls the cover off, wipes the dust away, and for four and a half minutes turns back the stubborn hands of time. Watching Collison play basketball now is an exercise in immediate nostalgia.
Some of the people Collison has shared the front court with during his time in Oklahoma City: Steven Hill, Malik Rose, Chris Wilcox, Byron Mullens, Etan Thomas, D.J. White, Nenad Krstic, and Cole Aldridge.
Collison will be a relic. He’s still a joy.
This is a list of things Steven Adams is more powerful than:
Ariana Grande’s voice
The ending of 45 Years
Dennis Leary’s speaking voice
Last night, with just over a minute left in the game, Adams chased down one of the best point guards in the league in the open court, made him pull the ball out, stayed with him, and blocked a three that—had Conley made it—would have cut the lead to one. His offensive development is starting to catch up to the outsized expectations he entered the season with and the number of times I start giggling when he scores have reached truly dangerous levels. We’re looking at easily five times a game now. It’s uncalled for, and I’m actively working on chilling out.
The touch has only gotten softer and the moves have only gotten smoother. Since Christmas he’s putting up averages of 15, 8, 2, and 2 on 64% shooting from the field and 73% shooting from the line, and he’s doing that all in a little over thirty-one minutes a game. The beauty of all this, if you’re a Thunder fan, is that this is still very much his blooming period. He’s hardly done improving. Seemingly each game he gets more and more comfortable in the post and the better he is down there, the smaller the load gets for Westbrook who, for the entire season, has played with a herd of Goliaths on his back.
Adams is 5th in the league in field goal percentage and tenth in total offensive rebounds, per Basketball-Reference. (An aside: Westbrook is FIFTH in the league in total defensive rebounds, which is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard). Despite the efforts of whoever controls the Thunder’s Twitter account, Adams won’t be an All-Star this year. His numbers are good, but not quite to the level needed for that just yet. The West is loaded with high quality bigs and several deserving players have put up better numbers than he has. Still, though, The ‘Nak is 23 years old. His future is awash in bright, Clark W. Griswoldian lights. His listed nickname on Basketball-Reference is Kiwi Phenom, which, while true, also feels boring. If Funaki ever gets old—it won’t, how on Earth could it, but this is strictly for fun—I submit Bigfoot as a viable alternative.