Thursday, January 5, 2012

AC'S Spotlight-Talking NBA in a nutshell

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships"
Michael Jordan

Through almost two weeks of NBA action, there have been great storylines, great theatre. You have the Heat looking cohesive and impressive, the champion Mavs struggling with a new mix of players, the Knicks struggling, Derrick Rose continuing to astound, and the CP3-Blake combination. At the epicenter of all this, and the best storyline to follow IMO is the Oklahoma City Thunder, and not just because of the simmering Durant/Westbrook combo.

This team is not ready to win a championship, at least not yet. Watching them closely through 7 games, while they still have their continutity, everything is way too difficult offensively. They have 4 plays, Durant Isolation, Westbrook Isolation, Harden Pick and Roll, and Ibaka baby jumper in the corner. Most if not all of their offensive success is made from those plays. You can argue that their best playmaker and creator is James Harden, not Russell Westbrook. If you're trying to win it all, that is a HUGE problem.

I do have to ask, at what point does this fall on Scott Brooks? The OKC organization has stressed patience, but we're past that point aren't we? Isn't it now about winning the title? I thought what Steve Kerr said on TNT last week was right on the money. The easiest thing to do is make the climb to relevancy and prominence, but the final step, winning the championship is hard and comes with so many different challenges. Can the Thunder stay together? The dynamic will be so intriguing to watch. Will Westbrook crack under the pressure of the media and whatever pressure he puts on himself? Will his ego and play affect the team? I think they're all legit questions, and won't be answered till June.


AC'S LEAGUEWIDE THOUGHTS:

Paul Westphal getting fired from the Sacramento Kings is one thing, and I can understand it, but why does Keith Smart get an automatic contract extension? For his stellar work at Golden State? So all of a sudden Keith Smart will prevent Demarcus Cousins from running him out of town too? Right....

I remember Derrick Rose said something at halftime of the Christmas day opener against the Lakers, to paraphrase, "Last year I was inefficient, I'm trying to be more wise about when I shoot the ball, and make sure my teammates involved." The Bulls are 6-1, D.Rose averaging almost 4 less shot attempts, and almost up to 9 assists. The Essence of an MVP.
The Knicks are at 2-4, and just looking discombobulated after losing to the offensive juggernaut Charlotte Bobcats who threw up 118 in the Garden. Since I am a Knick fan, I guess it's fair to 2nd guess the way this squad was put together. I do have a problem with the mad bombing from three that the Knicks are doing, especially due to the fact that they're not making any. That's an issue. D'Antoni on the hot seat? You know it, how long till the "defensive specialist" Mike Woodson takes over? A month the way they're going, and while I say this Amare is shooting another three.

Losing Ginobili sucks for the Spurs, but don't be shocked if their continuity holds them up to be a top 8 playoff team until he comes back. Coach Popovich knows what he's doing, and the Spurs will survive the REGULAR season.

Nate Robinson to the Warriors, I really hope Nate finds a niche, but I don't see it with Ellis and Curry who play the majority of the minutes. Hopefully Nate can stay focused.

Kobe really needs to save his legs for the postseason and let Bynum and Gasol caddie him to the playoffs. It's nice to know he can score 30+, but he'll wear himself out like that.

I love the way Portland and Denver have played thus far, two deep teams with solid principles based on TEAMWORK. Very refreshing to see.

Till next week y'all!
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