• To mark the end of Evan Turner's tenure as a 76er, Andrew Unterberger cobbled together a list of 40 particularly memorable Turner moments. There's the usual smattering of highlights, but the real punctuation of the list is provided by Turner's underrated social media goofiness.
• More on all that Turner was and wasn't, and where that left the Sixers -- courtesy of Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers:
My issue with Turner was never that he's not a superstar. That seemed pretty clear off the bat, if we're being honest. The athleticism couldn't carry him far enough and he didn't have the shooting or playmaking ability of Paul Pierce and Brandon Roy to make up for it.
It's that he never accepted himself for what he is. He can be a good spot-up shooter. He can pass well. He can defend, on occasion, smaller guards when he uses his size to his advantage. What he didn't do was play within the flow of an offense. Each Evan play was an isolation, dribble the air out of the ball, clogfest. When he wasn't involved in the play, he was totally detached.
• Sunday was just another day at the office for Jason Collins, Brooklyn's run-of-the-mill, barrier-shattering ballplayer.
• Great insight here on the momentum-busting role of zone defense in the NBA, as explored through the Spurs, specifically. Patty Mills offers a nice, succinct explanation of why that particular defense works well, even on the pro level:
“Your initial reaction is to hold the ball and try to work out what they're doing. As long as you hold the ball, people stand, and that's exactly what the zone wants you to do.”
• If bringing about league parity was -- as has been claimed -- one of the primary motivations behind the most recent NBA lockout, then Tom Ziller of SB Nation has some bad news.
• The D-League has long been a venue for experimentation, as the NBA has test driven tweaks in presentation and rules at the minor league level. But no D-League experiment to date can rival that of the Rockets-affliated Rio Grande Valley Vipers -- arguably the most fascinating professional basketball team in the country. It's hardly a new development that the Vipers push the pace and chuck up three-pointers at most every opportunity, but that they've done so to a greater and greater extent in each of the past four seasons puts them squarely on basketball's avant garde. Grantland's Jason Schwartz is the latest to peek into the laboratory, and among the first to offer a clear look at one of the lead researchers: D-III-plucked Vipers head coach Nevada Smith:
When Smith heard the voice mail, he assumed it was a prank. Even when the Rockets sent a follow-up email, Smith didn’t quite believe it. Life at the D-III level is not glamorous. At Keystone, Smith was responsible for doing his players’ laundry, driving them to games, and ordering food for them on the road. He shared an office with coaches from other sports, and there was just a single computer for all of them. The notion that an NBA franchise might want to hire him seemed about as likely as being asked to suit up alongside Dwight Howard in the All-Star Game.
After finally making contact with the Rockets, Smith did a phone interview on a Monday and flew to Houston that Friday for a full interview with Morey and several other Rockets front-office members. “We just talked basketball,” Smith says. When the Rockets asked him what type of analytics he used at Keystone, he said he’d used basically none — just true shooting percentage and the plus-minus of different lineups. After all, he barely had a computer. “They laughed at that,” Smith says.
• An ode to Joakim Noah, who hasn't at all received enough praise for his play this season.
• This is hardly a surprise, but on a big-picture level, Shane Battier just gets it.
• In reviewing the value of a second round pick, ESPN Insider's Tom Haberstroh laid out the good with the bad. The latter is understood in broad strokes, but Haberstroh lays out the slim odds of the second round in quantified detail:
What I didn't tell you at the top was that 32 percent of all second-round picks never even play in the NBA. Not a minute. This is one of the many discoveries of the NBA DRAFT Initiative study that I published at Insider in 2009, which I've dusted off and updated this season. From Pervis Ellison to Janis Timma, I've analyzed all 1,442 picks who have been selected since 1989, the first year the draft shrunk from three rounds to the current setup of two.• In breaking through the Suns' defensive scheme, the Rockets prompted this breakdown of the primary objectives in Phoenix's coverage.
What else do we find after putting the draft under the microscope? Yes, it's true: Second-round picks are essentially a crapshoot. About one-third don't even play in the NBA. And even if they manage to slip on an NBA uniform, most burn out before lasting three seasons. Of the 603 second-rounders picked between 1989 and 2009, just 246 of them made it to Year 3.