Giving credit where credit's due
Here are some players (and a coach) whose efficiency and productivity deserve a little more credit. (
At this point in his career, Landry is probably better known for being shot in the leg in an early-morning incident a year ago and losing three teeth in the arm of
Just how little is his offensive game appreciated? He was the Rockets' second-leading scorer as their sixth man and their top low-post scorer, yet Houston shipped him to Sacramento before the trade deadline for
Yes, there were extenuating circumstances because the Rockets had to give up something of value in order to trade
With the move, Landry is likely to lose votes for the Sixth Man Award because he is now the starting power forward for Sacramento, where he continues to display the scoring ability that he unearthed in Houston.
A second-round pick in 2007, Landry is averaging 17.6 points on 53.4 percent shooting in 10 games with the Kings, who run their offense through Rookie of the Year front-runner Evans. With increased minutes, Landry's rebounding has improved as well. He averaged 8.2 boards a game in March, up from 6.1 in February. Don't be surprised if in a year or two, as the Kings improve, Landry becomes a 20-10 player.
With all the attention on Durant and the Thunder's incredible rise from a lottery team to legitimate contender, Sefolosha has been, for the most part, forgotten.
But he may very well be the next
Sefolosha has held Golden State's
These numbers, of course, are not precise because of substitutions and defensive rotations, but the trend is there: Opposing shooting guards tend to struggle when they play Oklahoma City. Part of the reason Sefolosha is able to focus on defense is because he's not needed as a top scorer. Durant is second in the league in scoring (29.6 points), while Westbrook and
That leaves Sefolosha to go to work defensively, and at 6-foot-7, he has the body to do just that, using his wingspan to fill passing lanes, tip balls and harass opponents' best offensive player. It's the reason the Thunder gave him a four-year contract extension after getting him from Chicago in a pre-deadline trade last season.
He may have gotten his first All-Star nod this season and been part of the 2008 U.S. Olympic gold-medal team, but Williams rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as
Williams (18.6 points, 10.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds) is the complete package: He is big, he is tough and he is getting better. Plus, he plays hard-nosed defense. Most coaches throw in a defensive specialist when they want to clamp down on somebody toward the end of the game. Jazz coach
Perhaps it is because he plays in a small market. Maybe it is because he has been overshadowed by New Orleans'
As a rookie in 2005-06, Williams struggled with the consistency on his jump shot. But after putting in extensive work over the summer, he has become a serious threat from the outside, able to use his body to create space and possessing the confidence to make the shot. He is shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range this season.
This has been the year of the point guard for the rookie class. But while Evans,
In just 25.3 minutes, Gibson is averaging 8.5 points and leads all rookies in rebounds (7.0), blocks (1.2) and double-doubles (10). With another 8-10 minutes on the floor, Gibson could reasonably average a double-double. Not bad for the 26th pick in the draft.
At this rate, Gibson can be counted on as Chicago's power forward of the future -- unless, of course, the Bulls fail to land Wade this summer and go after Bosh instead. The Bulls have coveted a solid power forward, and it seems they have it in Gibson, who is everything
An example of Skiles' competitiveness: In 1995, as the starting point guard for the Washington Bullets, his backup,
Every coach has it in some way, but how they handle it once it becomes an issue is what separates the great ones from the mediocre ones. Hopefully Skiles will learn to adjust that part of his personality because the guy can flat-out coach.
You think his team is not taking on his personality? How about Jennings standing up to Boston's
One NBA insider said Skiles comes up with some of the most creative play-calling in the league and has a firm handle on the mismatches that give Milwaukee an advantage. He has handled Jennings masterfully, even as the rookie has struggled with his shot for a while. And Skiles has
He has incorporated both