Short Corner: Unexpected leader in techs per minute, Jose Calderon's heady play and more
Welcome to the Short Corner, a celebration of the NBA in the pithiest form possible. Below are a collection of notebook-style items, laid out for your buffet-style enjoyment.
• This season's leader in technical fouls per minute isn't the perpetually irritated DeMarcus Cousins, the carping Blake Griffin, nor the belligerent Lance Stephenson. It's Warriors elder statesman Jermaine O'Neal, who on average manages to get whistled for a tech once every 89 minutes of playing time. To put that in perspective: Had O'Neal continued picking up technical fouls at that same rate while playing in every game for the Warriors this season, he'd be up to 31 techs for the year -- more than double that of the current leader (Cousins, 15).
• Friday's game between the Rockets and Thunder was fun on the whole, though the fourth quarter was essentially a competition to see which team could draw more fouls by way of pump fakes and rip moves. I won't say that I didn't enjoy James Harden trying so desperately to get Derek Fisher off his feet, though I've certainly seen better -- and more viewer-friendly -- late-game execution.
• There's no use in making some grand declaration after just 20 games in unusual conditions, but I'm starting to think the Sixers might have found an interesting piece in Henry Sims. The 6-10 center is the only player component remaining in Philadelphia from the Spencer Hawes deal, as Earl Clark -- the other player acquired from the Cavs -- was released promptly on arrival.
• Jose Calderon's successes are so often defined by the little things -- understanding the balance between making a play and forcing the issue, taking open looks without hesitation, and setting teammates up with perfect passes rather than functional ones. There are plenty of decisions he makes on a game-by-game basis that could help illustrate his value, though I was struck by how simply and intelligently he avoided this potential trap:
So many guards in the NBA would try to push past Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson in that situation. Calderon knew better.
• For a quick lesson on why even the smallest moves matter in a league bound by a salary cap and dense transaction rules, consider the case of Scotty Hopson -- an undrafted guard who will make $1.4 million to play seven games for the Cavaliers this season.
• With Warriors coach Mark Jackson still insistent on segregating his starters and reserves as much as possible, we've unfortunately seen very little of what could be the best defensive trio in the league. It's a bit of a moot point while Andrew Bogut is sidelined with a pelvic contusion, though overall Bogut has spent just 75 minutes on the floor with Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green -- Golden State's other top defenders. Lineups featuring that trio have been predictably dominant in coverage in that dash of playing time, though their grouping seems like it could be a potent situational counter in a postseason setting. This isn't just novelty; the very idea of those three working in concert should make even top offensive teams fear for their efficiency.
• After a 10-of-10 performance against the Lakers on Friday, perpetually underrated Mavs big man Brandan Wright is now shooting 86 percent from the field (24-of-28) over his last five games. We're nearing the point where his misses might need to be celebrated for their rarity.
• Credit where credit is due: It hasn't been a smooth season overall for Cavs guard Jarrett Jack, but he played smart, clear-eyed basketball through March. Check out this tough pick-and-roll feed to Anderson Varejao:
That doesn't even look like the same player who so often played with tunnel vision during his first few months in Cleveland.
• I fully expect that at some point in the upcoming playoffs, Pacers guard Evan Turner will begin ceding minutes to the little-used Rasual Butler. There are only so many errant shooting nights an already struggling team can take from a player who otherwise dominates the ball and flunks in defensive coverage.
• Second-year forward Terrence Jones has given Houston production and minutes from a position of previous need, though he also seems to be at particular risk of on-court absence. At his best, Jones is a force; he can be effective enough offensively that opponents can't afford to leave him and active enough defensively as to help protect the basket when Dwight Howard is pulled away. It's also not terribly uncommon for him to fade into the background entirely, as was the case in his two-point, four-foul performance in 19 minutes against the Clippers last weekend.