LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin?
Really good analysis from Bill Simmons, writing about LaMarcus Aldridge. Simmons was explaining who he would pick for the All-Star Game, and he compared Aldridge to Blake Griffin:
“If we’re just talking basketball, I’m giving LaMarcus a slight edge over Blake — he’s a better all-around player, he’s better in crunch time, and he’s a much better free throw shooter. Throw in the other stuff (dunking, charisma, entertainment, alley-oops, etc.) and it’s suddenly a much better argument, and when you remember it’s the All-Star Game — the kind of showcase that was literally created for someone like Blake — then that’s when you start thinking, ‘Can we just give Blake all of LaMarcus’ minutes?’ I don’t mind thinking this way for the All-Star Game, but when we’re trying to win a Gold Medal in six months? This becomes a more meaningful debate.”
Simmons couldn’t be any more accurate. Which explains why I have no interest in the All-Star Game — it’s not basketball. Amazing athleticism, but not really basketball. Simmons, by the way, picked both players for his All-Star Game.
The column also perfectly distills the Oklahoma City Thunder. About Russell Westbrook, Simmons writes:
“Westbrook passed Rondo as the league’s premier Table Test guy — in other words, nobody brings more to the table while also taking more OFF the table, but he brings so much to the table that it doesn’t totally matter. He also plays his ass off and sincerely gives a crap. Why does he insist on chucking those terrible 22-footers, and why doesn’t he defer to Durant more when Durant continues to be the most automatic two points in the league? I couldn’t tell you. (Cut to Scotty Brooks nodding his head sadly.) Still, he’s a destructive athlete and the main reason why OKC always makes its opponents feel like a boxer that’s pinned against the ropes. Think Julio Cesar Chavez. They have NBA title pole position right now for that reason over anything else.”
Again, Simmons couldn’t be more right if he wrote that Kim Kardashian likes attention. The Table Test analogy perfectly sums up Westbrook. How many All-Stars sit for the ENTIRE FOURTH QUARTER of a close playoff game, as Westbrook did last year (the only game the Thunder won against the Mavericks)? Westbrook was even pretty good that game; but the bench got rolling, and Westbrook always has the potential to blow up a good run with a turnover, a forced 22-footer, and a missed layup on an I-don’t-care-about-these-four-defenders-I’m-taking-it-to-the-hoop play. And he’ll do those things on three consecutive possessions. He doesn’t do it often, but the potential is there.
The Thunder’s championship hopes rest on two things: Kendrick Perkins’ knees and Russell Westbrook’s head (or is that three things?).