In addition to a nationally televised afternoon doubleheader that forced Chris Sheridan to temporarily embargo his weekly MVP Rankings, 60 Minutes had a feature on Jeremy Lin, approximately one year after the height of “Linsanity.”
And before you delve into our collection of NBA news, check out the latest effort from columnist and resident historian/voice of reason Jan Hubbard, who sets the record straight on Mark Cuban’s interest in Brittney Griner.
We begin with sad news. Marty Blake died today, and a whole generation of basketball writers said, “Who?”
But if you are older than 30, then you know that before analytics, YouTube and Jonathan Givony, Blake was the first, last and sometimes only word on the NBA draft and its prospects for many years. Blake was the NBA’s director of scouting and ran the league’s predraft camp at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago every June.
During the Bulls’s second three-peat in the late 1990s, NBA writers had the good fortune to have the Finals and the predraft camp in the same city. During one of those Finals, I went to the predraft camp after the media availability and got a firsthand taste of Blake’s unique combination of spot-on player evaluation and acerbic wit.
An overweight center prospect named Leonard Coleman was standing to the side of the multiple courts, talking to a writer. Blake walked past and briefly stopped to offer his advice before moving on.
“Lose 50 pounds,” Blake instructed. “Make a lot of money.”
Many folks wrote obituaries about Blake on Sunday, but the best may have been by Chris Ekstrand for NBA.com. For many years, Blake and Ekstrand worked hand in glove in the weeks leading up to the draft. Blake provided the bulk of the evaluation; Ekstrand put it together in the NBA’s draft media guide.
- Here are a couple more anecdotes from Ekstrand’s story: “Once, after being introduced to a prominent college prospect after a game, the player asked Blake for an evaluation, right there on the spot. The player had scored nearly 20 points, but collected only one rebound in the game. “Congratulations. You got one more rebound than a dead man,” Blake told the player. “Next time, work a little harder.” When the three-point shot became a big part of the college game in the late 1980s, Blake showed his old eyes still knew the difference between a player’s reputation and production. In one scouting report, Blake wrote: “He is a three-point shooter, but not necessarily a three-point maker!”
- There is a first time for everything.
- And on the flip side of Battle: Los Angeles, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com strafes the Lakers, well, worse than the Clippers did: “In a game that featured only 88 possessions (unofficially), the Clippers had an offensive efficiency rating of 123.9 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers are such an easy defense to scramble. Why is Steve Blake cheating eight feet off Paul to offer a meek double-team on Griffin, who’s more than capable of kicking the pass out or spinning baseline away from Blake? What kind of defense worth its salt doesn’t pick up either of the opponent’s two wing players in transition? Why on earth is Antawn Jamison finding himself on the high side of a Paul-Griffin slip screen, essentially creating a five-on-four situation for the Clippers in the half court? And these are just a few examples from the Clippers’ run late in the first quarter. Optimists can talk all they want about how the Lakers will make noise in a potential first-round matchup with San Antonio, but the Spurs run the kind of offensive system that brutally punishes defensive cluelessness.”
- Sunday’s doubleheader opener put the focus on the scoring title duel between three-time defending champion Kevin Durant of the Thunder and white-hot Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks. But in his notebook, Darnell Mayberry of the Daily Oklahoman noticed another statistical battle that was no contest: “Carmelo Anthony had three times as many offensive rebounds (nine) as Kevin Durant had total rebounds. Durant then had the nerve to say he’s “not concerned” about the rebounding. This despite the fact that the Thunder has now allowed at least 16 offensive rebounds in five of its past 10 games and 14 on average over that full span. I’d say that’s a pretty good cause for concern. With just five regular season games remaining, certain aspects like defensive rebounding appear to be getting worse not better.”
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