Nate Robinson and David Lee put Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford to shame. Chris Paul makes J.J. Barea look bad, and Nenad Krstic is making Sam Presti look good. Appearances matter at the TrueHoop Network.
Mike Kurylo of Knickerblogger: "What I want to talk about is the siren song of the NBA - the creative scorer. As a fan who watches many games, it's easy to understand the lure of the volume scorer. The average fan focuses on the guy with the ball, and the scorer tends to have the ball in his hands more often than his teammates. Additionally he is able to create the shot by his own ability, independent of his teammates. It's easy for the fan to see the benefit of the scorer's efforts, since it connects directly to the main goal of the team: Points. Rebounds don't change the point totals on the scoreboard. When the news covers the game, usually you hear something like 'Robinson led the Knicks with 29 points, while Duhon and Hughes chipped in 19 each.' You don't hear about the other stats unless it's a phenomenal number (20 rebounds). And the players listed are in point order, even if they score 19 points on 20 shots.
...I'll agree that the double-double is an overrated stat, but is it that much more overrated than points per game? Or even the ability to create your own shot? This final component seems especially important for the average fan who plays basketball. At the level of the average fan, being able to create your own shot is more important than many other attributes. In other words your neighborhood version of Al Harrington is worth more at the park than the NBA's version is to his team. In the Hawks game thread, a game that Robinson missed due to injury, 'ess-dog' commented, 'Now this is the kind of game that makes me wonder if Nate's scoring and penetrating is overrated.'
During Isiah's tenure New York was stuck with two players that could create their own shot, but do little else. Crawford & Curry seemed to divide Knick fans between creationists who worshiped their ability to make shot attempts, and those that covered their ears to the siren song of YouTube highlights. This year the team has traded one and marginalized the other, and their record is on track to improve by 10 games. It's no coincidence that this improvement has occurred by replacing the inefficient ex-Bulls' minutes with the more efficient Robinson and Lee. Additionally the latter pair gives the team more than just field goal attempts. Lee provides rebounding, while Robinson sprinkles the stat line with rebounding, assists, and steals.
As advanced statisticians already know, at the highest levels of basketball shooting is the most important factor with regards to a team's chances of winning. But it's not shooting volume that we use to measure it, but rather shooting efficiency."
Ryan Schwan of Hornets247: "I felt bad for Dallas back-up point guard J.J. Barea. He and Antoine Wright got most of the defensive duties against Paul all game, and Paul was treating him the way eighth graders do fifth graders on the playground. He was smacking Barea's hand away, going right at him, and treated him multiple times to a contemptuous stare that looked right through Barea like he wasn't even on the floor. Defensively, Paul was even more disrespectful of poor J.J. I counted four possessions where Paul left Barea open on the perimeter -- and never came back. He simply walked away and helped out elsewhere, showing no concern about Barea at all. It was so egregious that I re-watched Barea's second stint in the game, and I figured out why. Neither Dirk nor Kidd pass to him. Paul kept close to Barea for a few possessions and then cheated towards Dirk three times. Not once did the ball skip out to Barea, even when he was left wide open. So Paul abandoned him -- and it led to some nice defensive possessions. (Oh yeah, Paul had 27 points on 18 shots, 15 assists, 4 rebounds, a steal and a pair of turnovers. Nice)"Royce Young of Daily Thunder: "It's probably more coincidental than anything else, but since Krstic officially became a Thunder-er Dec. 31, the team is 13-16 (though he didn't actually play a game until Jan. 7 against Minnesota in a huge blowout loss). He averaged 8.8 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game in about 22 minutes per game in January. In February, his minutes went up to 26 per game and he averaged 8.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg. But so far in March (two games albeit), he's averaging 22 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and has led the Thunder in scoring the last two.
...[F]rom what I can tell, he's not doing anything that much different. He's still taking a majority of jump shots, but now he's making a really high percentage of them...He catches, sets and shoots. No thinking and no second guessing. Just swish.
...I don't think we should get used to 20-point nights from Krstic, but he's really settling in and is a candidate to put up solid offensive numbers every night...He's not going to be the Tyson Chandler enforcer in the paint and block shots and change games on the inside. That's not his game. We still definitely need that, but he's a more than competent defender with good footwork and long arms and a potentially deadly offensive weapon.
And for just $3 million a year, I think Presti worked some magic again with this guy. Maybe it's a coincidence that the Thunder's playing better with Krstic in a Thunder uniform and maybe it's not. Regardless of that, the team got much stronger with him and the future got brighter."
(Photos by Lisa Blumenfeld, Barry Gossage, Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)