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@FF_pickups I disagree. Even if we all agree that Westbrook has been improving exponentially (I think we all do), he still occasionally manifests issues with tunnel vision when running an offense. He still has a distinct lack of diversity in the ways he attacks defenses and is still getting the hang of consistently creating opportunities for others after he drives. Then there are other things that indirectly ties into this, like his lack of finesse with his footwork in the paint, and how unharnessed the speed of his penetration dribbles are (hence him ending up on his ass or clanking the bottom of the rim on about half his lay-up attempts). The presence of constant improvement doesn't mean there is an absence of flaws, even if they are not as glaring as they were in the past.
2 years, 8 months ago on Wednesday Bolts - 4.18.12
Good point, but like I mentioned, I qualified my comparisons by expressing that I felt that Russ has time to close the gap between him and others, and will (probably) outpace many of his contemporaries by the time he gets to their age. Also, Parker's assist to turnovers is better than Russ's this season, which is what I was referring to.
@SB718 Lots of hypothetical lines of questioning related to context here. Some players are naturally gifted and talented; others have to have their skill sets overseen and coaxed by proper coaching and development. Does the fact that Parker and Rondo might be a product of their surroundings (great coaching, talented teammates, etc.) really detract from their accomplishments that much? I mean, who cares? Harden and Westbrook could very well be completely different (and not nearly as fantastic) players had they been developed elsewhere. That doesn't change the fact that these players are decent to great.
Ironically, both PGs' respective teams are having the offensive focal points shifted through them these days now that the superstars on their rosters are on the downturn of their careers.
And I'm willing to wager that, of all the elite point guards in the league, Westbrook would rank at or near the bottom of a Top 5 or even Top 10 as one of the least impressive passers. I did also qualify that statement by identifying that he has youth on his side, and that many of the disparities that exist between him and Parker currently will be closed in a matter of time; in fact, I think Westbrook will be much more impressive than Parker by the time he's 29.
Re: Tony Parker vs. Westbrook, their skill sets are completely different, especially since Parker is the superior 1 of the two in a classical point guard sense. Consider the following about Parker:
• he has a lower usage rate
• he has a better assist-to-turnover ratio
• he has better footwork and a vaster array of offensive moves
• he can harness his speed more effectively
• he is generally savvier with his shot selection
• he has greater depth of match-up experience and experience against a variety of different defenses
• he has superior court vision
• he runs offenses better
Parker - along with other storied PGs like Nash, Rondo, and CP3 - have proven and demonstrated time and again that their decision-making is rooted in a classically high basketball IQ, and that their actions (whether or not they result in high-volume shooting) is at least coming from somewhere deliberate and thought-out. Due to Westbrook's (comparatively) thin experience and current lack of variety in ways in which he can attack defenses, he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt.
The good thing about Westbrook is that even though Parker trumps Westbrook in all of the metrics listed above, almost all of his shortcomings (when compared to Parker) are simply rooted in his general inexperience. Westbrook is obviously more athletic, and I think improvements in all areas will definitely come with time.
I think the first question neatly demonstrates the kind of theory-crafting and hypothetical situations that sports fans (and, really, any student of history) tend to attach to "What if...?" scenarios. I have always thought that the practice is silly and shortsighted due to one fundamental problem with those type of questions: they zero in on precisely one or two conditions while literally ignoring every other relevant and potentially more crucial detail.
This line of questioning occurs quite frequently in academia, especially in social sciences (psychology, sociology, economics, history, political science, etc.). Take for example the following hypothetical question that might pop up in a political science course: Could U.S. President X from the 1800s have more success than U.S. President Y of today?
Let's get more specific: Could Abraham Lincoln experience more success if he were installed as our president during either George W. Bush or Barack Obama's presidencies? I feel that this kind of question is inherently flawed for a number of issues. It's not a simple matter of taking Lincoln's skill set, applying it to the circumstances of our modern political climate and seeing what clicks and what doesn't. As the saying goes, Lincoln was very much the product of his environment; his mentality, poise, thoughtfulness, approaches, and political savvy were directly shaped by the contextual factors (social, economic, political, cultural climate, etc.) of his era. The list of contextual factors, in of itself, can be expansive of range, stemming anywhere as far back from the way he was raised and schooled as a child to whatever issues were the most salient and divisive during his presidency.
With basketball the same circumstances and contextual factors need to be considered: What other elements were present that led to KD's current leadership position with the team? Furthermore, the first mailbag question can be taken another step and refined: Could Westbrook have been the leader of the team if you simply reversed his and KD's draft years? Royce never comes out and explicitly pins it on contextual factors, but he does emphatically state that this can't be the case due to a variety of other factors that contributed to the way their respective roles on the team developed.
The concept of contextual factors is even more relevant when people talk about things like draft successes or busts, or how Player X was garbage with Team A until he was traded to Team B (see: Robinson, Nate; Mullens, Byron). There is a sheer amount variance that goes into a list of contextual factors that directly or indirectly affect player performance, and most people would end up with a better understanding of just how truly fragile and impressionable the human psyche is if they would just realize that players (and people in general) do not exist in a vacuum and that everything around them is fair game in affecting them, for better or worse.
Also, for the record: the silly idea of royal jelly is just a glorification of a simple contextual factor.
2 years, 8 months ago on DT Mailbag: Alpha issues
No love for Thabo, anybody? I wish this guy would hurry up and get better, because I felt he was superb in his limited minutes. I was supremely happy he was able to extract a bit of revenge against Miami by picking Wade's pockets immediately following that BS superstar foul Lebron drew when he initiated contact. For whatever reason, he just plays classically stellar defense on Wade.
2 years, 9 months ago on The Thunder kick the Heat, 103-87
2 years, 10 months ago on Report: Thabo to miss another month because of sore foot
@T-Fred @HookemKD@ThunderWins@RRRWHOAAAA Dirk was also not playing like himself. Also, Dallas is still a Top 5 defense in a tough conference and arguably the second best Southwest division. They are still a team to be worried about, especially since they play us so well.
2 years, 10 months ago on Warriors vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
@ThunderWins If we didn't play so many .500 teams, we might be able to. East is complete garbage.
@Lost Ones Family site, homies.
2 years, 10 months ago on Thunder at Rockets: Pregame Primer
Man, it's a good thing assists are overrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is definitely one of the more questionable notions I've seen posited here on the Daily Thunder. Royce, the way you attempt to marginalize the function of assists and characterize them as having little purpose outside of being stat sheet stuffing is kind of frightening. Passing has always been and will always be the best and fastest way to create an open, high-percentage shot. The idea behind it is simple: a basketball being propelled through the air will always be faster than a player, even if he or she is already mobilized. Rapid passing sequences generate holes and passing lanes in the middle of the opponent's defensive rotations, which are then exploited accordingly. I believe that passing will always create opportunities for an offense to score, and that careful and accurate passing will always produce open looks at a far greater and more reliable clip than isolation plays. Passing is so fundamental that literally any team in the league can do it effectively, even if a particular team is bereft of any athletic talent.
The Thunder are generally a sub-par passing team. That isn't to say that neither KD, Westbrook, Harden (who is probably the team's best passer), or (God willing) Perkins aren't capable of threading the needle in order to complete a difficult but flashy assist, but our offense has always been marked with a distinct lack of ball movement and movement off the ball. Ibaka and Perkins might be notorious for dropping passes in the post, but I would fancy that a significant portion of our turnover margin comes from bad or lazy passing as well (which I feel like I have seen a ton of in the last several weeks). KD and Russ are particularly guilty for making ill-advised hand-offs or shovel passes in the middle of double teams, which are both predictable and telegraphed well ahead of time. When it gets down to it, I don't think anyone can persuasively characterize the Thunder as a great or even decent passing team.
I also find it funny that you characterize our guys hanging out disinterestedly around the perimeter with virtually nonexistent screening and motion (except for when Harden and Collison are on the floor together) as "clearing space for a scorer to do work" (actions which, incidentally, comprise the majority of the Thunder offense). I look at this as more of problem than you do, I suppose, because lack of off-the-ball motion makes us much easier to defend.
I felt that our utter dismantling of the Jazz last night was a direct result of uncharacteristically great passing all around. Houston ran out to a solid 16-point lead due to great looks produced by precise passing while we were bricking our iso jumpers, and we are supposed to be the statistically and athletically superior team.
I think what I'm trying to suggest is this: Why should it be a question of assisting versus shot creation based on sheer talent? It is impressive that our offensive rating has consistently held its ground somewhere in the Top 5 all season, but is that a good enough reason for the Thunder to rest on their laurels and forgo any opportunity to get better? If great passing theoretically enables any team to find an opportunity to complete a high-percentage shot, why shouldn't OKC use it to its advantage IN CONJUNCTION with our Big 3's ability to create their own shots? KD may be TS% might be a tad bit ridiculous this season, but I will still take a wide-open look at the bucket produced by a great pass or sequence of passes over a well-contested isolation shot any day of the week. It's one thing to say that assists are "overrated"; but it's an entirely different matter to imply that we don't need to assist or are, in fact, better off not assisting/passing.
2 years, 10 months ago on Unassisted scoring: How the Thunder get their points
Sorry guys, this is still way worse than the Wizards spanking. This is completely f'ing miserable.
2 years, 10 months ago on Thunder at Kings: Pregame Primer
COOL WE'RE GONNA TRY TO WIN THE GAME DOWN 1 POINT WITH 5 SECONDS LEFT AGAIN YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY
@bmuelle22 No Thabo.
@ILikePancakes Good point, but they had me convinced they would never pull this type of stunt against a terrible team ever again. That's what makes this slightly worse to me.
I don't care if we win or lose. This is by far the worst game of the season.
Oh my god. Is this really happening again? Against f'n Sacramento?
@Remify Yeah our perimeter D has been completely balls these last four games.
I'm torn: would you guys prefer Cook to start closing games for his ability to stretch defenses, or do we need Thabo's defense back?
It literally doesn't matter who we play. We make everyone look amazing.
I know I'm beating a dead horse, but we look completely horrible.
@shiki KD's stats are similar to Lebron's in most areas except for one: true shooting percentage. While KD is shooting a career-high 51%, Lebron is posting an insane 55%. That's kind of a significant difference. It's not like you can call their similar stat line a wash and just go to anecdotal evidence to make the final determination for which of the two is better at this point, because Lebron is still statistically heads and toes above everyone in the pack for obvious reasons.
Who knows, though? MVP voting can be really flaky sometimes, and they may just give to someone who actually isn't the statistically dominant performer (again) this year because voters are bored of voting in Lebron year in and year out.
2 years, 10 months ago on The Thunder survive a wild one against the Warriors, 119-116
@shiki Did you even follow Lebron's career before he went to Miami? There were tons of regular seasonand playoff games during his tenure in Cleveland where he completely took over 4th quarters.
@The_Beard_Knows Interesting, but not surprising. I wouldn't be upset in the slightest if Harden came off the bench with Jason Terry-like minutes for the rest of his time in OKC, at least with our current half-court offensive sets. We have a collective tendency of underrating Thabo in our own camp due to his general lack of offense, but I still think that this is only the case because we have virtually no sets that make Thabo the focus of the offense. He's a completely capable player otherwise (as evidenced by his early days with Chicago and in Europe).
2 years, 10 months ago on Thunder at Mavericks: Pregame Primer
@f5alcon Kind of what I was getting at. KD doesn't do it much (and when he does, he sets really lazy screens), but when he does, it opens it a huge wealth of offensive options.
@supreethm92 I hear ya. I've noticed that Russ and KD have been trying to dish a lot more to our bigs whenever they get doubled, but neither Ibaka's jumpers or Perk's baby hooks have been terribly reliable lately. I'd love for KD and Russ to run more PNRs - only good things happen when they do, but they only do it 3 or 4 times a game.
I mostly agree with you that we will make it difficult for Dallas to score in the paint in general, but Matrix or Carter in the post is still something that needs to be respected, and Beaubois has been surprisingly efficient at slicing up average-to-decent defenses (Jazz and Spurs respectively) with his driving. Our defense, at best, is above average.
Also, I thought Marion was pretty effective at harassing KD in general? That was definitely the case in the WCFs during key stretches, and I distinctly remember Marion effectively challenging many of his shots in the last game as well.
@supreethm92 I read earlier today that Carlisle has taken notice that Westbrook has gone to the post or an iso as the first play for the last several games, so I have no doubt they will be ready to double Russ if Beaubois starts having trouble staying in front of him throughout the night. I'm pretty interested in seeing this match-up: Beaubois has been kind of a defensive menace since he's been getting heavier minutes, but he has not had to deal with a threat like Westbrook either. Beaubois's current game reminds me of a blend of Russ's and Maynor's: he has a similar sensibility to probe defenses for his own shots, but has Maynor's footwork.
Wouldn't be more accurate that Dallas exacted revenge on us for that buzzer-beater since our home game against them came first?
@lmaxwell11 That will be definitely one of the things this game hinges on. The Mavs have converted 19% of turnovers into points this season (apparently good for 8th in the league), not to mention that they're hovering somewhere in the Top 5 in defensive efficiency. Even with Kidd out (who I personally believe has been an utter liability all season long) and with Dirk playing terribly, Dallas is getting all sorts of crazy production from all over the place (Beaubois, Marion, West, Carter, Mahinmi, etc.)...hell, even Brendan Haywood is playing really well.
I also think Harden needs to start showing up more consistently on the road. That might be a little bit more problematic tonight than usual though, because Jason Terry's defense on Harden has been pretty stellar, especially in the last game.
It's going to be a really tough game, I think.