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Rockets Daily: Monday, September 13th, 2010

  • Never has one man so thoroughly dominated a night for all around around the world to see. Yes, Kanye was truly great (or at least moved Jonny Flynn). And Kevin Durant did a little something too. The skinny, tall one, despite being haunted by an entire team of 12 Giant Men focusing on him, gathered his lank and pushed ahead of Luis Scola to become the World Championships’ tournament MVP after leading Team USA to a gold medal over Turkey in a 81-64 drubbing that left Durant looking like a team full of virtual NBA All-Stars’ (and plenty of real ones) action hero. As they sputtered, he provided from his endless bounty of gifts (hint: his gifts were usually really, really long three-pointers). Durant’s game, so individualistic yet mostly mutual in its need for him to be placed in the most efficient spots, wreaks havoc on the basketball viewer’s mind: shouldn’t the NBA’s best young player be taking shots that, I don’t know, aren’t taken 25 feet away? Yet he continues to hit. And hit. And hit. His basketball limits seem to know none of their own; while he may not be the “great at everything” superstar we’ve been spoiled by for the past few decades (or just decade), his talent lies in his ability to make it all seem like child’s play. 6’11” men with jumpshots made of 100% silk tend to do that. Rob Mahoney writes about the exact blend of flaw and perfection that makes Durant so special: “KD isn’t a megalomaniac, but he’s also mortal, even if his game hints otherwise. The limits and quirks that make Durant so endearing are the same ones that will eventually tarnish him, just as they did with LeBron, and for that matter, with just about every other prominent star that ever laced ‘em up. We love NBA players for their flaws, even if with Durant, we haven’t quite realized it yet. His range is unbelievable, but sometimes he leans too heavily on his jumper as a result. He’s confident in his own abilities, but sometimes tries to do just a bit too much. He’s neck-deep in the game he loves, but maybe that makes him just a bit detached as a result. Can KD drop 40 with a flick of his wrist? Surely… That doesn’t mean we haven’t been down this road before, with other remarkable men and remarkable athletes. The lesson in all of this isn’t that Durant is spectacularly flawed, even if he ends up being so… The takeaway is that the fall is a part of the game (not the game, but the game), and the flaws spotlighted in the process are typically par for the professional athlete course…”
  • While Sebastian Pruiti has taken the liberty of breaking down exactly how scared of Kevin Durant and his mighty hammer the Turkish team was, to those who watched, the level of attention paid to Durant was fairly obvious: when he moved, with or without the ball, the zone shifted accordingly. Thanks to this, he and a group of point guards who have had trouble capitalizing on all of the freer lanes (Rose, Westbrook) picked apart the Turks, waiting for the wrong rotation to come, or worse yet, waiting for another Durant bomb. It truly did look like Durant had conquered the world. Not once watching this tournament did I think of LeBron James in any more than a tertiary manner, yet somehow, further jamming cylindrical pegs into square holes, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports saw a furthering of the dichotomy in which he has found such great fodder: Durant the Saint versus LeBron the Petulant. While I’m reluctant to attack any other writer in this column, I found his taking umbrage with James in the wake of Durant’s accomplishment unseemly and evident of a prevailing mentality: not simple subjectivity, as I expect no less from a professional journalist who has developed a voice, but blatant agenda-pushing, selling an idea even when no one’s asking.
  • While Luis Scola may have had to eventually stand in Durant’s ever-growing (both literally and figuratively) shadow in this tournament, he had his reign. While not long, it wasn’t too many days ago he was being written about as relentlessly as Durant is today. In the midst of that, many Spurs followers grieved the loss of Scola in a trade, but according to an interview with Scola conducted by Fox Sports Houston, they may not even know how sad they really should be. When asked about his feeling on the organization he was only associated with in name, the effective low-post sloth thought of himself as a San Antonio Spur and memorized their system as best he could in preparation for one day joining San Antonio. Essentially, Luis Scola was better prepared to be a San Antonio Spur when entering this league than a Houston Rocket. Spurs fans, meet this well kicked dead horse. My feet are tired. Have at it.
  • Robert Horry, Hall-of-Famer to some, “Big Smooth” Sam Perkins to others, has never signed a card featuring him in an NBA uniform. Well, that paradigm has shifted. Enter the new age.
  • As the Melo hype has died down, few teams are being mentioned in trade talk, leading all of the latecomers to getting in their own absent-minded speculation, everyone’s favorite kind. The Denver Post‘s Chris Dempsey hypothesizes an entire, dystopian post-Melo world that actually doesn’t seem so brutal (though Ty Lawson and Nene providing the young talent base for an upcoming team seems unlikely). The Hoop News‘ Jonathan Wasserman, though, runs the gamut of options and settles on (where else?) Houston as the most attractive landing spot for Nuggets fans looking for returning talent in a Melo swap: “Depending on who’s made available, the Houston Rockets have some real enticing players they can offer. Between draft picks, Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Luis Scola, Chase Budinger and Patrick Patterson, the Rockets can offer a combination of young talent with established talent. Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries both have expiring contracts as well, so cap relief would be another asset Houston can offer.  My guess is this is the team Denver is hoping to deal with, if they have to deal at all.”
  • You’re probably aware, but if you’re not, I’ll let you in on a secret: the Blazers’ foremost stat expert, consultant and all-around genius Jeffrey Ma, never wanted Greg Oden. Ma threw his team’s best young prospect and former GM Kevin Pritchard well under the bus in this somewhat shockingly candid interview with Blazersedge‘s Ben Golliver. I wonder if this will ever happen with a Rockets in-house stat junkie. The player will almost certainly be Ron Artest.
  • Zanesville, Ohio’s finest, our own Kevin Martin, returned home recently and got in a remarkably short interview with Whiz News (It’s actually WHIZ, but come on) He says exciting but expected things about making the playoffs. WHIZ News: bringing you trite like no one else!

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