We at Bulls by the Horns realize that you’re busy and don’t have the time to go searching through website after website for some interesting, NBA related reads. So, every Saturday, we’ll gather the articles we’ve found interesting and put them together for you in one place.
The second round of the playoffs is underway, but we must take a closer look at the first round before moving forward. Tim McGarry at the USA Today compiled the stats and argued that this year’s opening round might have been the best in NBA history. This year’s first round featured 50 games, which is the most in NBA history. It also featured the most upsets (24) and overtime games (8). Before being upset at some of the blow outs in the second round, just remember how lucky we were to witness the first round.
One of the best story lines is the development of the young point guards in Portland and Washington, D.C. With their development in mind, the Point Forward got their contributors together and asked if they’d rather have John Wall or Damian Lillard for the next ten years. The group overwhelmingly chose John Wall. Wall was selected for many reasons, but one of the biggest was his age. Though Wall has been in the league longer, he is still younger than Lillard. Also, many of the writers thought that though Lillard has exhibited better skills in a few areas, Wall could easily become a better player in those same areas because he has steadily improved in each of those areas.
A big surprise in the Spurs-Blazers series hasn’t been Lillard, but instead the disappointing play of LaMarcus Aldridge in Game 2. While Aldridge was outstanding the first round and great in Game 1 against the Spurs, he was nearly non-existent in Game 2 and much of the reason was the defense of Tiago Splitter. Scott Rafferty of Hardwood Paroxysm took a closer look at Splitter’s defense on Aldridge and why Splitter was so successful. Aldridge was just 2-f0r-13 in Game 2 with Splitter guarding him and has been 8-for-25 on the series because of Splitter’s ability to close out jump shots and then move his feet as Aldridge attempts to get to the basket.
Like Splitter, the Thunder’s Nick Collison is regularly underrated for his skills on the basketball court, but apparently he’s also underrated for his abilities as a writer. With the help of Sports Illustrated, Collison wrote about his experiences with his teammate Kevin Durant. Collison has been the only player to have played alongside Durant for his entire seven-year career. Though this is pretty much the definion of a fluff piece, it was still cool to get to hear everything from Collison’s perspective. Collison truly understands his role on the team, but also how his role gets extenuated because of Durant’s special talents.
In the Eastern Conference, the Heat signed Greg Oden to make a difference in the playoffs, but it just hasn’t turned out that way. Oden has struggled with his health and has been unable to get onto the floor this season. His friend and former teammate Mark Titus went to Charlotte at the end of the first round to talk with Oden about his experiences in Titus’s former role, benchwarmer. Oden was very open and even admitted that he knows that he’s “one of the biggest busts in NBA history”, but it hasn’t affected his mood. For a while, he thought he would never even be able to work out and train with a NBA team, so he sees what he’s been able to do this season as an accomplishment, rather than a disappointment.
Turning away from the playoffs, let’s take a look at the market for head coaches. SBNation’s Satchel Price explored the best options for the Golden State Warriors’ open head coaching position, but it also served as a good overview of the popular choices for each of the open head coaching positions. Price took a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the three hottest candidates (Steve Kerr, Stan Van Gundy, and Tom Thibodeau). Along with that, Price mentioned a few of the other possibilities among former NBA coaches and college coaches as well.
Finally, in the longest and quite possibly best piece of the week, Jonathan Abrams compiled an oral history of the classic 2002 Lakers-Kings Western Conference Finals. Abrams talked with almost all of the involved parties with a few exceptions (Kobe Bryant, Chris Webber, and Rick Adelman) and dug deep into a series that has grown in infamy since it ended 12 years ago. Abrams brought up some interesting things that many people forget about both of those teams and just how much those teams hated each other.
That’s all for this week. And as always…Reading is FUNdamental.