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.
On Monday night, Lebron James scored a career-high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats and the internet exploded. People were ranking the best individual games ever, asking if James’ 61 points was more impressive than Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game, and all sorts of other foolishness. One of the better pieces took a look at why James’ 61 point game likely wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. Matt Moore of CBS Sports took a look at the stunning evolution James has made as a player and even put that evolution into a GIF that shows James’ shot charts from every year of his career. In that GIF, as well as in Moore’s breakdown, James’ evolution becomes apparent. Though he was blessed with incredible athletic ability, James has also improved consistently every season to become the world’s best basketball player.
On Tuesday, Moore wrote another great piece defending the Bobcats defense. A month before the Bobcats gave up 61 to James, they let Carmelo Anthony get loose for 62 points, which has led many to claim that the Bobcats have a weak defense. The opposite is actually true as the Bobcats have been one of the league’s best defenses according to points per possession and points per game. Many critics immediately bring up the fact that they play in the Eastern Conference, but Moore dug a little bit deeper and found that the Bobcats actually did very well against Western Conference as well.
James’ scoring barrage made many people reconsider the MVP race as many had given the trophy to Kevin Durant after his scoring exploits earlier this season. One of those people was Royce Young at CBS Sports who questioned the mindset of each player and their respective teams. While the Thunder regularly sit Durant during the fourth quarter of blowouts, the Heat willingly allowed James to chase a career high in the fourth quarter against the Bobcats while up 20. Young suggests that the Heat allow James to stay in the fourth quarter to chase stats, but the reality may actually be that the Thunder have a bit stronger and younger supporting cast.
In his discussion of the MVP race, Young brought up that though there are two clear-cut candidates for the award, the rest of the discussion gets very confusing. At the beginning of the year, it looked like Paul George would take that third spot, but he has struggled in the last few months and SB Nation’s Kevin Zimmerman examined why that has occurred. Zimmerman noted that George was unbelievable from midrange in the first few months of the season, but his percentages quickly dropped in 2014. Zimmerman theorized that George’s decline has been a huge reason why the Pacers offense has regressed as well in the past few months.
Another hot shooting streak came to an end as Kyle Korver’s streak of consecutive games with a three pointer came to an end at 127 games on Wednesday. Bo Churney of HawksHoop described the significance of the streak. Obviously, Churney viewed the streak as a representation of Korver’s tireless work ethic and his abilities as a shooter, but he described that it meant much more to the team as a whole. Korver’s streak would not have been possible without the off-ball screens and playmaking of his teammates. Churney also mentioned that it showed Hawks fans that the team’s management team is capable of targeting and signing capable players in free agency and then developing newly acquired players into significant members of the squad.
Speaking of development, the last week has featured a couple high profile basketball people discussing the most effective way for young players to develop. Mark Cuban asserted that many college players would benefit from playing in the D-League more than they would from playing an extra season at the college level. Larry Brown, former NBA coach and current SMU head coach, quickly answered back that Brown’s comments were the “worst thing I’ve heard”. Brown went on to say that players should be learning more than just basketball because “life after basketball is a real long time.”
A perfect example of why both Cuban and Brown care so much about player development is DeMar DeRozan. In his fifth season with the Raptors, DeRozan put it all together and got elected to the NBA All-Star Game. Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney showed how each season has helped DeRozan develop new skills that he has used to become the player he is today. In the past, DeRozan would settle for midrange jumpers because he was too weak to get further in the lane, but as he’s grown stronger he can now get all the way to the basket while also getting to the free throw line. Mahoney noted that DeRozan likely knows he is doing a little too much right now, but Toronto’s roster composition is calling for it and he is doing all he can to help the team.
We’ll wrap up this edition of What We’re Reading with an entertaining interview with Jeff Pearlman, author of Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. Pearlman talked with Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead about Magic Johnson’s announcement, Kareem’s struggles in the public eye, Jerry Buss’ business dealings and Buss’ extravagant personal life. Pretty entertaining read.
That’s all for this week. Remember…reading is FUNdamental.