4 min read

Wednesday Bolts – 6.6.12

Wednesday Bolts – 6.6.12

Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com tries to figure out the LeBron or Durant debate: “Afraid to go to the line? Durant wants to be on that line, he needs to be on that line. His belief in his shot is total, and with good reason, which is why you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Kevin Durant if you were starting an NBA team today and could pick any player in the world to build around. LeBron looks better, runs faster, jumps higher, fills the stat box with a few more numbers than Durant. But with 10 seconds left in a close game, Durant’s the guy you want shooting the ball. So forget what I said last week. Forget even what I wrote earlier in this story. Give me the power to start an NBA team from scratch? Give me Kevin Durant with my first pick. I’d like to have LeBron, sure. I’d like to have the most talented all-around player in the game. But I’d rather win.”

Carles of Grantland: “Oklahoma City is hoping to ride the Thunder into a new decade of prosperity and development. The city seems destined to be overpopulated with ‘trying too hard to look urban’ new developments surrounding their downtown, just like in Austin, Texas. The personal culture is a more tolerable version of Dallas. It will be interesting to look at the city when Kevin Durant retires and there’s a pretty definitive model on the impact of a Hall of Fame player on the economic development of a ‘small market’ city.”

Barry Petchesky of Deadpsin makes my favorite counter to the anti-Hero Ball argument: “One more point: the iso play exists not only to pre-select the shooter, but the timing of the shot. On the last possession, the play is drawn up to take the shot at the buzzer, so the other team has no time to counter with a possession of their own. That’s easy to do when you give the ball to your playmaker, and let him spot up with a single man in his face. Not so easy to do when you try to make that extra pass.”

Game 5, Phantom’d.

Ben Detrick of Grantland wonders if the 76ers are the next Thunder: “Superficially, the Sixers’ current trajectory resembles the ascension of the Thunder. From 2008 to 2011, Oklahoma City’s wins rose from 23 to 50 to 55. Both teams made significant leaps from the primordial muck and then gradually developed four-chambered hearts and tufty mammalian pelts. The Thunder are now bipedal, Urkel-spectacles-wearing, fully formed contenders. Philly is sort of like a giant prehistoric meerkat, awaiting opposable thumbs. The deflating reality is that the Sixers are nothing like the Thunder. Win or lose, Oklahoma City squints into a future brightened by a core of young stars. Philly has no such promise. And for a young team ostensibly on the upswing, the Sixers are surprisingly entering an offseason where everything is in flux.”

Read this about DT-Shirts.

Rob Mahoney of the NY Times: “In that light, Durant has not grown into his current role, but developed on his own course with a meticulously tailored expectation following behind. Brooks’s laissez-faire system has allowed each Thunder player to mature into a more complete version of his basketball self, and while Westbrook settled into balance, Ibaka refined raw ability into genuine skill, and Harden learned to master the creator/complement interchange, Durant has harnessed his most attractive abilities as a defender without bearing the weight of systemic pressure. It’s those aforementioned stars who allow Durant to function as a highly efficient machine, but it’s Brooks’s comfortable, accommodating standard — and the resulting use of defenders like Sefolosha — that have brought a blindingly talented star closer than ever to his natural peak.”

Tony Parker, BIG edition.

Zach Lowe of SI.com: “Westbrook has transformed his mid-range jumper from a liability into a strength, and he has improved as a passer. His assist numbers dropped this season because he increasingly shares ball-handling duties with Durant and Harden, but he has widened the range of passes he can work. Monday night alone, he tossed four or five I’m not sure he could have made last season — two cross-court skip passes to Daequan Cook out of the pick-and-roll, a nearly blind pitch-back to Durant for an open three-pointer and a gorgeous drop pass to Nick Collison out of a pick-and-roll, a play on which Westbrook froze the lurking help defender (Stephen Jackson) by yo-yo-ing his dribble in the lane and looking briefly at Jackson’s man (Harden, on the wing) before the dish. On one of those Cook passes, Westbrook saw Parker deciding whether he should leave Cook to help on Westbrook in the lane, and he took one extra hesitation dribble into the paint, forcing Parker to commit. This was “pure” point-guard play amid some classic Westbrook madness, and it was not possible last season.”

Will Leitch of New York Magazine: “Oklahoma City certainly has stars of its own — honestly, we’ll take their big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden over anybody else’s in the NBA — but you still can’t help but think the Spurs are blowing this more than the Thunder are taking it; the normally reliable Spurs have turned shockingly turnover-prone in the last three games, especially last night.”

Andrew Sharp of SB Nation: “As OKC exploded onto the scene, it’s come with equal parts beauty and terror. Beauty because they make basketball breathtaking when it all comes together. Terror because they’re still nowhere near perfect — from Russell Westbrook to Kevin Durant to Scott Brooks — but they just keep winning in the meantime. It’s kinda impossible not to get caught up in the joy of it all. The Thunder aren’t the Spurs. They may be every bit as unstoppable, but they’re nowhere near as precise and that’s part of the charm. Every Thunder game is a new adventure with different heroes doing ridiculous things, and we’re along for the ride.”