Lost Wonder

As usual, Ziller beat me to it, in officially blogging a sigh of relief that Kevin Durant has been moved to Small Forward. Gee, ya think? This was something I pined for back in the beginning of the season and something you would think wouldn't take this long to figure out. Gee, PJ, do you think one of the best freshman forwards in college history should be forced to play two-guard? Hell no.

The bottom line is that the Thunder already look and feel better under Scotty Brooks, who I must namedrop, as one of the few NBA guys I actually made friends with during my few years working for the Timberwolves. When I was 11 years old and working my first game, Brooks hit me with a $20 bill and actually chatted with me -- I felt a connection with him ever since that point. He was one of the true nice guys in the league, and also was a tough little bastard -- someone that Barkley would go to war for in their Sixers days and someone who played some key stretches during the Rockets' mid-90s title runs. Brooks has been city-hopping for a while, and may in fact be the next great coach. He provides the toughness of Scott Skiles, but also knows when to loosen his grip. Quoth Durant (again via Ziller):

"Not taking anything away from P.J., he wanted the best out of us," said Durant. "But Scott did a great job of giving us a little bit of room for error. Once we messed up he just told us what we needed to do better and told us that play was over. I think that kind of made us feel a little better. We just got to continue to build on it."

I can't think of a better situation for Brooks as a first-time coach, and for these Thunder players. Plus, when Brooks took over, they actually played like they were going to win a game, and because I fell asleep for the last two minutes of the Thunder/Suns game last night, I'm going to pretend they did. I could see an extreme sense of levity and comfort amongst these guys. And at very least I have seen in Westbrook and Durant, a potential small-big power-duo that by midseason will be competitive with D-Williams/Boozer, Nash/Amare, and Chris Paul/David West as far as these duos go. Not to mention next year, when Westbrook establishes himself as the official Deron Williams to Derrick Rose's CP3. Westbrook just has insane Dwyane-Wade-like upside and is fast becoming my favorite player in the league.

Now if the Thunder could only dump their supporting cast for better three-point shooters, we would have a serious team on our hands. Westbrook can get in the lane with the best of them, and Durant is JUST STARTING HIS CAREER NOW. In an email to Shoals and the Recluse last night, I officially proclaimed him "freed." Screw Glenn Robinson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. This is the bizarro-KG-Dirk-assassin that we all were watching at Texas. It will take a year still for that player to emerge, but I could finally see the remnants last night, beginning to be reassembled.

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At 11/26/2008 12:25 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I agree with this whole heartedly.
Unfortunately though, they still haven't actually won a game under Brooks.

At 11/26/2008 12:35 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

haha...yeah, that was confusing on my part. fixed.

At 11/26/2008 12:40 PM, Blogger Kris said...

Those combos you listed include numerous all star appearances, Nash's MVPs, and a future MVP or two. I want to get on board with the Westbrook optimism, but it's too damn early. In the immortal words of Magic Johnson, "So I would probably have to just pass on that one."

At 11/26/2008 1:04 PM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...

I guess I'm confused; you point to the greatness of Durant becoming a 3, and then laud him and Westbrook as one of the great 1/4 combinations? I see Westbrook as Williams, but Durant as Boozer/Amare/West? Pump your brakes on that one.

I'm not sure what the comparison would be. I guess maybe Nash/Marion, if Marion were the top banana on that team. Other than that its really a potential for a dominating combo we've never seen, a 1 and a 3. But Durant is far from, and hopefully never will be, a big.

At 11/26/2008 1:15 PM, Blogger Big Rils said...

They definitely need a better supporting cast, but I like what Jeff Green is doing and think he will be a very good NBA player.

The problem is - does he fit? When your 1 and 3 for the next 10 years are not particularly accurate outside shooters, you really need someone in that 2 hole to stretch the defense. If they could land a Rasheed-type 4 that plays D and hit the 3, they may be able to stick with the Westbrook/Green/Durant combo, but barring that, I'm not sure it can happen.

In any case, they are a long way off, but should be a fun team to watch the rest of the way.

At 11/26/2008 1:27 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

re: leonardson,

i'm saying durant is a 3, but fulfills the role as the team's "notable big." it's not quite stockton and malone, but just in terms of height, dunking potential, and reboundability (ESPECIALLY now that he's back to playing the 3) durant is serving that function.

besides, in today's nba, there are essentially two positions: small & big. sometimes you get a true center or a true point guard, but otherwise, it's all a mishmash.

At 11/26/2008 4:28 PM, Blogger D.Miz said...

Of course he shoudl be at the 3. While Bargnani and Yi were both pushed to go to the 4 or 5, i feel like it's a similar situation for all three. All three of them have good size/length, decent speed, and nice jumpshots...they should be on the wing.


At 11/26/2008 6:07 PM, Blogger doof said...

thanks for reporting on ALL teams, not just the "sexy" ones

At 11/26/2008 8:34 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

I have no interest whatsoever in seeing Methlahoma City blossom as a franchise. I wish nothing but ill things on that franchise until Meyer Lansky is no longer Commissioner and there is a reconstituted Seattle SuperSonics.

Here's to Durant signing with a real team when his rookie contract is up.

At 11/26/2008 8:52 PM, Blogger T. said...

I thought this was the positionless revolution gestation grounds.

Anyways, in the case of Yi, he's got very good straight line speed, but his lateral movement would leave him toast against the majority of small forwards in the league. Plus, he's legitimately 7' tall.

WV: pricaira - the spanish team that will sign Ronnie Fields next year

At 11/27/2008 10:45 AM, Blogger Aaron said...

I think there's a difference between Shoals's "Positional Revolution" and your notional "positionless revolution".

A guy like Dirk or Durant doesn't lack position. They just redefine the idea of position. You don't say that Durant is both a power forward and a shooting guard. You say he encompasses elements of both into some new position.

At 11/27/2008 11:01 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I've actually talked about a couple different levels of a positional revolution. One would be true apositionality, where responsibilities are redistributed from situation to situation. The other would be where a coach or GM puts together a team where the players complement each other such that responsibilities get filled, generating new roles. Though I suppose there's some overlap between the two, and that new roles/positions could have flexibility built into them that put them on a slippery slop toward the first, more extreme, theory.

At 11/27/2008 11:03 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Come to think of it, the former is totally idealistic and impossible, the latter maybe just a slight improvement over old orthodoxy. Some combination of the two is what my favorite teams boast, where there's a notion of structure that is also not averse to turning itself inside out.

At 11/27/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger J Rock said...

BS - Is it like Julian Wright backing up the 4 AND the 1? Which is what he should be doing to prevent Brown and James from mucking it up.

Chandler/Eddy Curry (over the top move)

DLIC - I'd say Durant will find his best success at the 4 spot, with the right 3 next to him. An bounder and a leaper. Someone like Trevor Ariza, maybe. How many starting 3/4 combo's in the league would be able to matchup with that?

Westbrook and Durant could pick and roll/pop all day long.

At 11/27/2008 1:56 PM, Blogger J Rock said...

I forgot about Rasual Butler in the Hornets lineup. He would be a good fit with Durant.

At 11/28/2008 3:48 PM, Blogger tray said...

When do we get the positional counterrevolution???

At 11/28/2008 5:11 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

OT: The book is on Uncrate today. I know publicity is publicity, but the FD magnum opus is getting pimped next to unaffordable cars, modern furniture, and collar stays.

Fuck, I look at Uncrate. I would make a younger me throw up.

At 11/29/2008 4:46 AM, Blogger tray said...


At 11/30/2008 2:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

terribly sorry for this tangent:

i've commented only once before but I'm a long time reader and knick fan...i was thinking of making Free Stephon shirts and I was wondering if anyone here would be down to get a shirt like that...probably wouldnt be too expensive. I figured some people here may like a shirt like that, i could be wrong though...

At 12/09/2008 4:30 PM, Blogger Gregorio said...

guy floats you a 20 and you're riding his jock. Imagining your response if he passed you a benjamin.


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