A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Durant

2011 Player of the Year – Final

with 5 comments

The Player of the Year Watch has gone on all season long. Here we have the Final ranking.

Player (last rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1A)

This is an easy choice for me. When it comes to literally lifting a team, Dirk has been the personification of this all year long. With the way LeBron came on against Chicago, I thought he was going to make me toss that aside but it didn’t happen.

I’ll admit that I actually thought that Wade was the MVP of the Finals over Dirk, but over the course of the entire season, nobody contributed value like Dirk.

2. Dwight Howard (3)

My regular season MVP got knocked off his perch down to the 3rd spot after the Conference Finals. However he floats back up a spot after LeBron’s weak Finals play. I’m always hesitant to let someone who has already been eliminated rise in my rankings, particularly when they were eliminated in an upset in the first round, however I can’t find real fault in Howard’s playoff performance, and what happened in the Finals did sway my opinion on LeBron’s season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Silly superstars, Treys are for Kicks!

with 2 comments

Image via nba.com

As the Dallas Mavericks progressed through the playoffs it was noted how well their offense was faring, and how strong the team’s 3-point attack was. The team shot 39.4% from 3-point land in the playoffs while shooting more than 20 3’s per game. This is devastating and obviously deserving of attention. Of course with Dirk Nowitzki, one of the great shooters of all time leading the way, would you expect anything less?

Yes, actually you would if you’ve been paying attention.

First off, Dirk has never shot 3-pointers like a mad man. While Ray Allen and, ahem, Antoine Walker shot in excess of 600 3-pointers a season Dirk peaked in the high 300s. Still though, when you’re shooting about 5 3-pointers per game, that’s a serious focus of your game.

It’s fascinating then to see how unimportant 3-pointers have become to Dirk’s current game as they’ve become more important to the Mav team as a whole. Dude’s been averaging about 2 3-pointers per game the past few years. How low is that? Well obviously it’s a heck of a lower than the amount that guys like Kobe, Durant, and Rose shoot, despite the fact none of them is the level of shooter than Dirk is (though admittedly Durant is getting close). Even superstars criticized for their lack of outside shooting like LeBron and Wade shoot 3s more than Dirk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

June 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm

2011 POY Watch – End Conference Finals

with 6 comments

The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.

Player (last rank)

1A. Dirk Nowitzki (4)

It’s been a joy to watch Dirk this year. He would without question be my Offensive Player of the Year. He plays so damn smart, with such an unreal touch. The Mavs are in the finals, with not a ton of talent around Dirk. I know that fit matters, and the Mavs have fantastic fit, but Dirk deserves some credit for helping to build that fit to.

1B. LeBron James (3)

And then there’s LeBron. I talked once before about how much I hate ties in rankings…when I last ranked a tie. Again though it seems appropriate right now as an in flux ranking to have a tie on top.

What LeBron did to Chicago was unreal. Tier 1 level offense, with world class defense. He is the best player in the game, and at this point I’m expecting him to take the crown over Dirk when all is said and done. But as they say, that’s why they play the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

8 thoughts on the Thunder’s elimination

with 3 comments

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunders at ...

Image via Wikipedia

1. For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma City Thunder exit the playoffs in a way that leaves us all excited for the future. One of the biggest turnarounds in history last year to get to the 1st round, now they get to the conference finals. They remain precocious as hell, and short of some major blow up in the off-season, I expect they’ll be the favorites to win the Western Conference next year, as well as to be the dominant team in the West going forward.

2. I think people need to keep some perspective though. This was a Thunder team that achieved their record in the regular season largely by beating mediocre teams (they struggled against the elite), and that were very fortunate that instead of having to face the best team in the conference in the second round (as a #4 seed should), they played an 8 seed. And even then, they only beat the 8 seed with the help of home court advantage. It’s wrong to talk about the series with the Dallas Mavericks as if it was the gentleman sweep that a 4-1 victory implies – the Mavs had to turn it on completely and get a bit lucky just to win 2 of 3 home games. However, the fact remains that after getting a fortunate draw, they managed only 1 win when faced with a true contender.

Bottom line is that no one should look at this Thunder team like one that took the playoffs by storm this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

The evolution of a player: Old Dirk, young Durant/Young Dirk, old Durant

with one comment

Dirk Nowitzki

Image via Wikipedia

One of the reasons I find this Dallas-Oklahoma City matchup intriguing is the comparison between Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant. Both guys are nearly incomparable to another star in NBA history due to their length and shooting ability for their positions – except maybe to each other.

What I see in Durant is shades of young Dirk, a player who’s height, speed and jumpshooting ability allow him to dart around the court and find open shots whenever he wants. Dirk started his career at C actually, where his speed and off ball cutting was even more pronounced. What’s fascinating about Durant’s current game to me is how despite being the 2 time scoring champion, he needs remarkably little set plays to get his points. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

May 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

From the bad coaching files: Scott Brooks leaving Thabo Sefolosha in

with 6 comments

Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach...

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

If you were watching Game 4 of the Dallas-Oklahoma City series last night, you saw one of the biggest 4th quarter collapses in NBA Playoff history. The Thunder were leading by 15 with under 5 minutes left and lost in overtime.

The turning point was James Harden fouling out, of which Dallas went on a 17-2 run immediately following. But for me what really sunk the Thunder was Scott Brooks. Specifically, Brooks leaving Thabo Sefolosha in the game the entire last 5 minutes and overtime.

If you’ve watched the Thunder regularly, you’ll have seen the team strugging offensively with Sefolosha is in the game. The concept is simple – Since Sefolosha is a virtual non offensive threat, the man defending him usually leaves him to go play a free safety role on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Compounding this, since the C position is usually played by Kendrick Perkins or Nick Collision, the Thunder are left playing virtually 3 on 5 with Westbrook, Durant and Serge Ibaka. When 2 of 5 defenders are free to double team without repurcussions, it makes the offense disastrous. Read the rest of this entry »

Flop and Punishment; Adapt or Suffer

with 14 comments

Image by baldeaglebluff via Flickr

During the game Saturday night, James Harden executed a flop to perfection against Tyson Chandler. He bumped into Chandler, and then when Chandler reacted by putting his arms up, Harden flopped at a point where Chandler’s elbows protruded maximally. Worked like a charm, Chandler got whistled for a technical.

Among the television announcers, Jeff Van Gundy talked about how they need to fine players for such flops, while Mark Jackson said you can’t fine a guy for trying to help his team.

I can’t think of a finer scenario for a meditation on flopping and rule making.

Read the rest of this entry »

2011 POY Watch – End Conference Semis

with 9 comments

The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.

Player (last rank)

1. Dwight Howard (1)

Odd position to be in. Howard’s sitting at home while the next 5 guys are all on the last 4 teams playing for the championship and playing fantastic. As much as I don’t want to be swayed by who has the better supporting casts, at this point I think it’s unlikely that Howard will keep the top spot when all is said and done.

2. Derrick Rose (2)

Started off the playoffs slow with some nagging injuries. He’s looking quite solid now. It’s also interesting that there was so much stat community negativity toward the guy during the season, meanwhile he keeps showing more as the season goes along. Doesn’t mean they were wrong by any means, but if Rose truly does emerge as a guy challenging for the top spot in advanced statistical metrics in the near future, I can just hear the frustration among the statistically minded.

Bucher: “So you admit you were wrong now?”

Stat guy: “No, YOU were wrong, but now you’re right. It’s a complete coincidence.”,

Bucher: “Whatever you want to tell yourself, I could have told you he’d do this because I watch the games.”

Stat guy: “Gah! That statement doesn’t even mean anything!” <Head explodes>

Read the rest of this entry »

The Miami Heat’s success: A basketball triumph or travesty?

with 6 comments

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, 2008

Image via Wikipedia

Recently I heard a topic come up of what the Miami Heat winning the title would mean for basketball. On one hand, it’d be a sign that success in the NBA truly comes down to just having superstars – and it’d light a match to the gasoline of other stars leaving teams to team up. In an ideal world, it’d be teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls who triumph – ones that play a 5 as 1 game, where the defenders and rebounding role players mean as much as the superstars.

But I’m not so sure. Read the rest of this entry »

2011 POY Watch – End 1st Round

with 3 comments

The Player of the Year Watch continues past the regular season factoring in all of the playoffs and coming up with the player that truly had the best overall season. After each round, I will update the rankings.

Player (last rank)

1. Dwight Howard (1)

What’s that you say? The Magic lost in the first round to the lightly regarded Hawks, shouldn’t he drop? Well, dude played great though. I’m not going to drop him just because his team disappoints. I’ll admit though that this does leave him out of sight and out of mind while others have a chance to up their rep. Excellent chance he ends up slipping a bit by the end of June.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

May 3, 2011 at 11:10 am