This play is the definition of putting a defender on skates.
Kevin Durant is great. That’s all.
NBA players can never do enough. If one is an excellent shooter, people wonder why he cannot be an excellent defender. If another is a great rebounder, he gets criticized for not being a good passer. Sometimes this badgering is warranted, especially if a player is simply sitting on great gifts that can be realized through some hard work. But sometimes people go too far. When they see someone doing everything great (see: LeBron James), they push their own star to do the same. But not everyone is fit to be in certain roles.
Kevin Durant faced off against James in the NBA Finals last year, and people claimed that their rivalry would become the new “Magic and Bird.” Obviously some of the fallout from the loss was that Durant did not have as diverse of a skill-set like James. He heard the criticism, and took measures to attempt to increase his role and ability as a playmaker. The results, however, have not been as world class as he may have wanted. Read more…
Here’s something nice to officially kick off your weekend. I wrote last season that Kevin Durant having a lethal crossover is basically unfair; Sasha Pavlovic surely agrees.
On the surface, predicting who will win the NBA’s MVP award is extremely easy. Select a really good player on a really good team, then call it a day. But, unfortunately, as we travel through each new season, a subjective investigation is given to the word “valuable,” and all hell breaks loose. Is it designed to reward the league’s best player? Or should it go to whomever is most important to their specific team—the player most obviously carrying his team towards the playoffs.
If the world we lived in were strictly based on facts and statistics as a means to present logical evidence, the 2012-13 MVP discussion would contain seven players. Here they are, in no particular order: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, and Andrew Bynum. Read more…
We’ve covered Kevin Durant’s crossover several times this season, and in its effective ability to create efficient baskets, this one is no different. Durant only made five baskets in this game (which these days is rarer than standing outside in a downpour and not getting hit with any rain). He did, however, pull this move off—a sequence of beauty that should probably count for more than your typical two points. It’s so difficult not to love.
For a majority of this lockout shortened 2011-12 season, LeBron James was a solid five or six strides ahead of everyone else in the always entertaining race for MVP. The Miami Heat looked unbeatable when they wanted to be, and the biggest reason for that was James’ consistent magnificence.
Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul joined him in early season conversation, but eventually LeBron simply pulled away, looking like a man on a mission. Playing in a condensed season that posed a lose-lose situation for both him and his team (the Heat could have gone 66-0 this season and nobody would care unless they won the championship), James began to put up historical numbers. When Dwyane Wade went down for an extended stretch, the question was posed as to whether Miami was actually a better team with LeBron running the show by himself. Wade is one of the league’s 10 best players on an off night. This train of thought was insane and intriguing at the same time.
I don’t recall anybody ever saying the Bulls were better without Scottie Pippen, or the early 2000 Lakers were better without Kobe Bryant. This was hard evidence for just how other-worldly LeBron’s season was earlier this season. There was a Bryan Cranston at the Emmys type of feel about LeBron and the MVP award this year. It was his to lose. Nobody was close.
Then March 20th happened. In a game against the Phoenix Suns, with the outcome already decided, James and Grant Hill crashed into each other diving for a loose ball. The collision was so violent, there was talk James might have suffered a concussion. Three nights later, he had a surprisingly subpar effort against Detroit, going 6-15 from the field for a puny 17 points. Granted LeBron had 10 assists, four steals, and his team won, but with LeBron the expectations are always higher than everyone else’s.
Two days later, in a much anticipated Sunday night matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder—and more importantly, prime rival MVP candidate Kevin Durant—both LeBron and his team floundered. The result was a seismic shift in the race. LeBron went head to head with Durant and was badly outplayed. For the first time, LeBron’s five fingers appeared to be slipping off the trophy.
Exactly one week later, the Heat were handed their worst loss of the season, and James recorded 0 assists (passing is the largest advantage his game has over Durant’s) while the Thunder handed the league’s best team (record wise) their worst beating in recent memory.
Between the win against Phoenix on March 20th and last night’s 41 point demolition of Philadelphia, Miami was 3-3, playing like an average basketball team at best. And LeBron’s MVP candidacy is on the ropes like a popular politician enduring a sex scandal in early October.
The trophy is officially up for grabs.
As we go into the three main components that decide who should be named MVP, it should be noted that for the rest of the season, this is a two horse race; it would be “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has been nominated for an Osacr” type shocking if either LeBron James or Kevin Durant did not win. They’re the two best players in the league, and until further notice, their respective teams are headed on a probable collision course this June.
But this column isn’t about them so much as it is the award’s selection process. Each year, or so it seems, the requirement to win is altered. One year it could be awarded to the best player, another year it could be given to someone dragging his team by the scruff of its neck into playoff obliteration. Is it too much to ask for a little consistency?
(Quick Tangent: It’s absolutely INFURIATING to hear former players, analysts, and reporters speak about the MVP on television as if it’s a little child swaying back and forth on a swing. When there’s a month left in the regular season it makes absolutely no sense to say one guy has “passed” another just because he outplays him in a single game. This award is supposed to validate an ENTIRE season’s body of work. Right? It doesn’t matter who you think should win, please, for the love of God, just present your case with some logical evidence and move to the next topic of discussion. Thank you.)
There are so many different paths that can be taken to receiving the MVP award. Here, in my opinion, are the three most important: Narrative, Statistics, and Value. Read more…
Of all the amazing things Kevin Durant is able to do with a basketball, the way he manages to tighten his gangly arms into a crisp, effective crossover while moving full speed towards the basket might be the most understated. He can make it flashy, but Durant’s game isn’t about that; his performances widen eyes staring at his post game box score almost more than his actual game time play. He gets it done, every night, with no exceptions. In line with almost every other action he conducts during a game, Durant uses the crossover as a vessel to score the basketball, and the way he’s able to use it traveling at all different types of speeds makes him that much more of an unbeatable, once-in-a-generation talent.
If your enjoyment of basketball as a game runs deep into the whys and hows which explain the tendencies of every player, then you probably love advanced statistics. They exist to explain what’s unexplainable (at first) to the naked eye. They’re both fun to pour over when you’re bored and crucial instruments in deciding the limits of million dollar contract extensions.
The statistic being put under the microscope right now is one rarely—if ever—mentioned on television broadcasts or highlight reels. It’s awkward from the tongue and slightly confusing as to what it specifically constitutes, being that it’s so based on the subjective, but “percent of field goals assisted” (%ast) is underrated in its importance. Read more…
In the grand scheme of what’s altruistically important in life, I believe it’s fair to suggest all teachers, doctors, surgeons, and members of the armed forces should be given financial compensation of equal or greater value to that of which is awarded professional athletes. Their actual impact on human life is indisputably greater, more important, and further reaching. Of course, they don’t (and never will) because the businesses they’re in don’t create the billions upon billions of dollars in gross revenue that the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL produce on an annual basis. They also have an uncountable number of members in their labor force, making each worker’s slice of pie much smaller than that of the athlete. Call it sad. Call it unfair. Call it horribly disproportionate. Call it the real world. Read more…