Short Corner: Thunder's fill-ins thriving, Jermaine O’Neal’s hitch; more NBA observations
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.
• Oklahoma City's makeshift starting five -- with Steven Adams and Perry Jones filling in for Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha -- has scored like crazy in limited minutes to date (124.3 points per 100 possessions), to the point of well eclipsing any defensive concession. It's not much of a revelation that Perkins tends to hold the Thunder back in terms of their offensive functioning; we've known that much for years, and in his heart of hearts so, too, does Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. But every stint like this one adds another wrinkle to that conversation, making it harder and harder to justify reliance on Perkins save for when the matchups break just so.
• Watching Warriors road games is a treat in itself, if only for that moment when Jermaine O'Neal hitches up his first free-throw attempt in front of an unsuspecting crowd. The audible groans are tremendous.
• Anthony Davis has long since established himself as an essential player for the Pelicans, but is there a designation beyond that? Monty Williams has had his hands tied of late with Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson nursing long-term injuries, Eric Gordon periodically sidelined, and Tyreke Evans popping in and out of the lineup as various ailments demand. That desperation has turned Davis into a first, second and third offensive option -- a treat in itself when there's not much other reason to watch the Pelicans. It also doesn't hurt New Orleans from an an entertainment standpoint that Davis has essentially been mandated to stay on the court as long as possible, to the point of averaging 41 minutes over the past five games.
• Because it isn't said often enough: Watching Mike Conley is a blast.
• I can understand why Stephen Curry was a little miffed after seeing his basket here waved off due a traveling call, but the move he executed is 100 percent illegal:
From the NBA Rulebook, Rule 9, Section XIII, Item h:
Upon ending his dribble or gaining control of the ball, a player may not touch the floor consecutively with the same foot (hop).
It's slight, but in ending his dribble Curry actually hops his way into taking two consecutive steps with his right foot.
• Pau Gasol took plenty of heat for his poor defense last season, but I fear he may now be getting off easy in light of the Lakers being so collectively miserable. So, just to be clear: Gasol has been as horrid a defender when healthy as when injured. There are still some physical issues in play, as is inevitable with any aging big. But the complete lack of awareness behind his years-late rotations is more than a little troubling. He moves on defense as if he were knee-deep in a tar pit.
• Shocking: Matt Barnes has received just one technical foul this season. Less so: He's still managed to lead the league in ejections.
• The problem with players like Evan Turner -- who has already had a few distinctly problematic performances in his short run with the Pacers -- is that they take a lot of work to fully maximize. Turner doesn't have a very natural sense of how to move without the ball, and over the course of his career hasn't shown much aptitude for spot-up shooting. He's most productive when in control, yet putting him in the right positions necessitates that a team put a lot of effort into a customized second-unit offense. As theoretically useful as Turner might be, is that really the most efficient use of a team and coaching staff's resources?
• I'm just gonna leave this here: Since Jan. 1, Brooklyn has had a top-five defense and a league average offense. In terms of net rating, that puts the Nets in the ballpark of the Suns, Blazers, Mavs, Bulls and Pacers.
• Since arriving in Cleveland, Spencer Hawes has posted a nutty 72.2 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot attempts. That's a seven-footer tapping into his inner Kyle Korver (73 percent eFG), which unsurprisingly translates to stark offensive improvement whenever he's taken the court for the Cavs.
Statistical support for this post provided by NBA.com. BALLARD: Why Andre Iguodala is a uniquely valuable player