5 Reasons Why – Part 2: NBA All-Star weekend is crumbling

asg21. Frequent disappointments 

In my opinion, the number one reason the NBA All-Star weekend has been struggling lately is due to the disappointments, on all levels. Players don’t try, favorites rarely win, dunks don’t live up to the hype, and shooters seem to never show up. While hype can (and is) usually built through social media and TV networks leading up to the event, we rarely see any predictions or stars follow through and amaze us.

2. Lack of effort

As mentioned briefly above, lack of effort is a major problem during All-Star weekend. Hardly do you see players giving their best effort or even remotely trying to win any competition. For instance, I was watching today during the Skills Challenge (essentially a dribbling/passing/shooting course for guards) and I would say 90% of the players were jogging around, hardly giving any effort. One player in particular, Reggie Jackson of the OKC Thunder, was moving a shade over walking speed while doing the course, and all I could think was “C’MON MAN!” While this is technically a midway break from the season for most players, it would be nice to see them go full speed, especially for events that last 30 or so seconds…

3. Lack of participation

This is another big issue. The key events that have generally been exciting and superstar filled (dunk contest/3pt shootout) are now being performed by marginally known players and hardly any superstars. While I will give the 3pt shootout a break, since it usually does have the games top shooters (except Kyle Korver this year…), I can make no such excuse for the dunk contest. Rewind a decade or so and you had the likes of Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Jason Richardson, Steve Francis, etc., performing and enjoying this event while also displaying genuine creativity and athleticism. Then look at today, a bunch of mediocre dunkers performing ok dunks with the occasional get-off-your-seat slam.

4. Lack of personalities 

This is another issue that I didn’t really notice until this past year, we really don’t have many great personalities. While LeBron James, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul bring some personality, the rest of the upcoming stars are very mild mannered. When you take a look at say, Kevin Durant and Paul George, you see some great players with personalities, but both just have a “chill” attitude. Neither of them will be seen pulling off entertainment stunts such as this gem from Shaq a few years back.

5. Injuries

This is the inevitable. Players are bound to get hurt. Year after year we move closer to All-Star weekend and 2-3 key players have to miss out, with this year being Kobe Bryant and (potentially) Dwayne Wade. While injuries are not an avoidable reason like some of the points mentioned above, they definitely add to the dullness of the weekend. Although, in all fairness, I should say that in some cases we do get to see young stars and snubs get their chance to rightfully perform (i.e. Anthony Davis).

Kevin Durant vs. Dirk Nowitzki: An Interesting Comparison

nba_g_kddirk_576As I sat in my fairly nice, but ridiculously overpriced, college apartment yesterday with a sub-par homemade coffee in one hand and some Oreos in the other (my typical breakfast, don’t judge), a thought rolled through my mind; how similar are Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant? While my in-the-moment inclination, largely due to the current media hype, was that Durant is the greatest player to ever play basketball, I decided to explore this comparison and what I got was a very interesting comparison.

Check out the numbers:

Shooting:

Durant: 47.8% FG, 37.8% 3PT, 88.3% FT – – – 18.9 FGA, 4.2 3PA

Dirk: 47.5% FG, 38.2% 3PT, 87.8% FT – – – 16.7 FGA, 3.2 3PA

Scoring:

Durant: 27 PPG, High PPG: 30.1 (besides this season), Most point in a game: 52

Dirk:  22.6 PPG, High PPG: 26.6, Most point in a game: 53

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OKC and Chicago Head Home: It Was Inevitable

It ended how we all expected. True, there was some drama in both the Thunder and Chicago series, but both ended in five games with the fifth games not being all that close. Credit to Chicago for fighting hard even with all their injuries, and credit to Kevin Durant and the Thunder for battling without their second superstar. Really though, neither team stood much of a chance in their series.Image

            The Thunder probably had the best chance of sending their series to six games. They had the best player in the series, which usually counts for something, but as covered earlier this week on the blog, Kevin Durant just had too little help without Westbrook. Along with that, it didn’t help that Memphis was a team built to beat the Thunder. Memphis was able to play their style all series, slowing down the game and keeping the Thunder out of transition. Once in the half court, all the pressure was on Kevin Durant to create for himself and others while playing heavy minutes (he averaged 44.1 minutes per game this postseason). As a result, his shooting suffered. Durant shot just 45.5% in the postseason compared to 51% in the regular season, when he had Westbrook. If anything, this postseason should silence all the Westbrook doubters. This team needs him in order to make the finals, and Kevin Durant is not better without Westbrook on the floor. Continue reading

Kevin Durant Can Only Do So Much: How the Thunder Have Stacked the Deck Against Their Own Superstar

Kevin Durant just cannot win these days. Despite doing everything possible, he lost the MVP award almost unanimously to Lebron James and now he finds his team down 2-1 to the Memphis Grizzles. Never has a player been so good but clearly just the second best player in the NBA. It appears this year he won’t get the chance to prove himself against Lebron, through no fault of his own. Westbrook went down due to a freak injury in his otherwise very healthy career. I still favored the Heat in a finals rematch, but the Thunder certainly had more than just a punchers chance with Westbrook.

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         Coming into the playoffs the Thunder seemed like a lock to make the finals and face Miami in a highly anticipated rematch. Now the Thunder are in serious jeopardy of being bounced out in the second round despite Durant averaging 32pts/12reb/6ast all while shooting 50% against a strong defensive team who can concentrate all their energy on him. The inability of Durant’s teammates to generate anything offensively has the Thunder in dire straights (that would be even more dire were it not for Durant’s heroics in game 1). Kevin Martin has shot just 38% in the series and left all the pressure for Kevin Durant. The Thunder have zero shot creators outside of Durant, the only player who comes close is Reggie Jackson, who has played well in stretches. Most Thunder fans must be thinking, “It sure would be nice to have James Harden right about now…” Continue reading