Okay, the most significant long term takeaway from last night’s pivotal OKC Western semi W in San Antonio is that the Spurs are on the cusp of refurbishment. Whether or not they win the next two and survive this series with the Thunder, and even the next with Golden State.
Tim Duncan is but a holographic image of his former HofF-quality baller, and frankly, on the court, is a detriment to his team’s play these days, other than as a leader and calming presence.
I’ll get to Tony Parker in a minute.
LaMarcus Aldridge, important newcomer, is over 30. Kawhi Leonard is a budding superstar, but his demeanor is so reticent, it’s hard to see him as a “leader” for the future.
So, yeah, there’s that goin’ on. Actually, not goin’ on, as in needs the franchise needs to fill.
As for OKC, there’s all the conjecture about where KD might go, should he feel it’s time to move away from Tornado Alley. But, hey, if the Thunder make a big run this campaign, maybe their dynamic duo will stay put. Add a big — Dwight Howard, anyone? — and who knows?
But, enough of all that conjecture.
I’m fascinated by some of the numbers from last night’s OKC W at the Alamo.
* * * * *
Russell Westbrook was his usual he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere human dynamo.
All the wags this morning after are lauding him for “willing his team” to victory.
On the face of it, his numbers justify the acclaim. 35 points. 11 boards. 9 assists. Eight turnovers, yeah, but, you know, he’s goin’ for it, balls out, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The flip side is aging Tony Parker. He tallied only 9 points, even though it seemed like all of SA’s plays at crunch time were designed for him. Aldridge, Leonard and Danny Green were all 20 or 20+, but none seemed to get any touches in the final moments, when Parker always had the rock.
So, the initial impressions: Westbrook, great. Parker, disappointing.
Which is where my favorite analytical statistic comes in, and stands inapposite. The +/- number. It emanates from the world of hockey, and reflects the scoring appreciation or depreciation of the entire team while the player is on the court, or ice, or field, depending on the sport being played.
I hold the statistic in great store, as a harbinger of how a player fits into a team’s system, and contributes to the game’s final result.
So, I was a bit stunned, a bit inclined to take Bill James name in vain — He started all this number crunching years ago in the world of baseball — when I noted Parker’s and Westbrook’s +/- number from last night’s 95-91 OKC W.
Parker was +8. Which means the Spurs were -12 when he was on the pine.
While Westbrook, lauded as he may be for his importance in last evening’s victory, was -4.
So these planets aren’t lining up right. Something’s skewed.
Which tells the truth? The numbers. The face test. Both. Neither. ???
Or, maybe I just need to not put so much store in the =?-.
— Seedy K