By: Sherwood Strauss
NBA Playoffs: Raining on the Thunder
I like criticizing OKC because so many carry an almost parental stake in their success. It’s not that I think them poorly run or inept—the Thunder are a yawning distance from bad. I just believe Oklahoma could have been so much better.
Sam Presti’s a good GM, but he can’t see into the future. Sports media gets into a mode where GMs are considered “good” or “bad,” and that premise frames opinions of every individual executive action. For example: After Joe Dumars fell off, it took years for sports pundits to catch up. Faulty Dumars moves could not be acknowledged as such because errors would violate the “Joe knows what he’s doing” meme.
Presti hasn’t fallen off, and he’s still building a winner—but the Thunder’s deficiencies and mistakes are taboo topics. As I watched the Laker flog the Thunder with Derek Fisher’s corpse, I wondered how it all could have been different. I dreamt of a young Thunder squad that featured Joakim Noah, Stephen Curry or Tyreke Evans.
Draft Botch No. 1: Jeff Green over Joakim Noah
Why, oh why, do I feel a powerful urge to bullhorn Jeff Green’s overratedness? Despite being mediocre for three years running, Green has a Team USA invite. This irks me more than any real trauma or tragedy—which speaks to my having a blessed or pathetic existence (I was recently on something of a date, and the girl asked, “What are you thinking about right now? I couldn’t reveal that I was obsessing over this very topic).
Jeff Green fascinates because he manages to be overrated on a small market team. It’s almost an accomplishment, since big market exposure is key to an overrating. I’ve already floated my “Big Three Bias” theory, but man, there should be limits. Jeff must be an incredibly nice guy.
During Game 1, I watched Green undercut any chance OKC had against the Lakers (Seriously, how did this power forward only grab 3 rebounds in 42 minutes?). JG got dominated down low, bricked open shots, and even inexplicably traveled with no one around him. Somehow Green delivered a -15 in 42 minutes to Kevin Durant’s -3, 42 minutes performance. Like Ron Artest’s hair, I’m not sure that’s even mathematically possible.
On the basketball internet world, I read excuse after excuse about how this is a bad match-up for Green. I have news for those who never watch the Thunder on League Pass: The NBA is a bad match-up for Jeff Green, for as long as he plays the four spot anyway. I keep hearing that Green is “good but undersized.” Um, size matters in the League. Green sucks at rebounding and defense. He contributes the occasional three-point play and that’s about it.
Jeff Green isn’t bad as a small forward, he’s just not NBA power forward material—which excludes him from probable future building block status (Green ain’t supplanting the SF position, that’s for damned sure). Stop pretending that this was a good draft choice. It wasn’t.
Draft Botch No. 2: James Harden over Tyrephen Evrry
Westbrook was an excellent pick, Ibaka looks like another 2008 home run. Jeff Green was a bad pick. James Harden is likely a regrettable pick. I don’t get how Bill Simmons (in a very entertaining column I might add) can say Harden was “probably the right move.” No, he wasn’t. Tyreke Evans is much better than James Harden. Stephen Curry is much better than James Harden. James Harden doesn’t help OKC’s “chemistry,” he just produces at a lower level than other draft picks. Oklahoma won this year, but it doesn’t mean they had the perfect formula.
They could have won more, they probably should have. Durant’s a superstar, Westbrook’s a fringe future All-Star, those two alone should be worth a playoff spot year after year. I’m amused by the Harden apologists because they ironically sound like the Oden apologists of old (“Sure, Kevin Durant looks better than Oden, but Oden is the right fit for Portland!”).
- Tim Kawakami thinks Biedrins would be a good fit for OKC. Yep.
- I feel like Bynum should yell, “When healthy (something profane)!” after awesome dunks
- Where are all the Andre Miller haters now?
- Bulls-Cavs should be scrambled like 90s porn, I’m not sure we need to see that series.
- If Milwaukee can’t win with Jennings going off, it’s going to be a long series (by which I mean a short series).
- Larry Brown has amazing defensive parts that he refuses to combine. Larry Hughes? Theo Ratliff? That was a decade ago, dude. Play your real NBA guys. Give me those awesome Thomas-Jax-Chandler-Wallace-Felton swarmfests.
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