Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If the math in my head is right...

...if you have 16 and the dealer's showing 10, you should hit. You're probably going to lose either way, but your odds of losing are at least slightly smaller if you hit. I know this. Well...I think I know this. I know this as well as one can calculate odds in their head. When I'm playing blackjack on my phone, I hit everytime in that scenario.

However, when I'm sitting at a $10 blackjack table, I stay. Every time. I get scared.

Now...leading up to last month's NBA Draft Lottery, I was all about Kevin Durant. I mean, Greg Oden never posted 37 points and 23 rebounds in one college game (against an NCAA tournament team, no less). Greg Oden made the NCAA finals, but he had fellow lottery pick Mike Conley on his team. Oden's great, but the game's getting faster and Durant's the future of the league.

I really did think all of these things.

And then Portland--my team--got the #1 pick. And the first thing I thought was, "I hope they take Oden."

Am I just getting scared again? Am I staying on 16? I mean, Oden's great, but Durant's the future, right? And since I consider myself a major numbers nerd, surely Hollinger's numbers were enough to sway me, right?


Okay. If Kevin Pritchard goes against the grain and takes Durant, I won't complain one bit. Not one bit. Durant's fantastic. But I'd still prefer Oden.

Hollinger’s numbers are great, and I love that the league is going in the direction of using crap like that...but is there anywhere in his ‘machine’ that accounts for effect on team defense? I mean, he takes blocks and rebound into account, but that's not enough.

In a chat with Chad Ford today, good old Bill Simmons once again took the opportunity to rail on anybody who thought Oden should go #1.

If I'm Portland's GM, I just spent the last five weeks wondering about Greg Oden. What's his ceiling? Can he be better than Patrick Ewing? Alonzo Mourning? Can he become as dominant as Tim Duncan? Should I be worried about his surgically repaired wrist, or the fact that he might suffer back problems some day because his legs are different sizes? What about the fact that he likes basketball, but doesn't love it? The thing is, all these franchise centers are basically the same -- it just comes down to their inherent will to dominate a game. Hakeem had that will, Duncan has it, Moses had it, Shaq had it in 2000 and 2001 ... for whatever reason, Ewing didn't have it, and neither did Mourning or Robinson. Can you see Oden stepping onto a basketball court and saying, "There's no way we're losing this f-ing game. I'm destroying the other team tonight." For some reason, I can't.

Well, Durant plays that way every game. He's a cold-blooded killer.
He goes on to call Oden (again) the Next Pat Ewing.

Look, Simmons. Durant will obviously be the best offensive player in the draft, but Oden is the best defensive player. And if Patrick Ewing had a Brandon Roy alongside him for 10 years, he might have won a title too. Oden doesn’t have to carry the team. He just has to carry the defense and get a lot of dunks. Roy will run the offense. Ewing didn't have it in him to be his team's Jordan on both ends of the court, but Oden won't have to.

Meanwhile, Durant rebounds well but plays average-at-best defense. Having a 2-3-4 of Roy-Durant-Randolph in Portland would be high-scoring and exciting and all, but a) how well will Randolph share the ball, b) how well will Durant share the ball (he did average like 1 assist a game at UT), c) Durant’s an up-tempo player, while Randolph most certainly is not, and d) where’s the defense?

Trading Randolph for a 3 (I’m still relatively confident this will happen) and having Aldridge/Oden in the post gives you a stiff defense for years to come. And being that Nate McMillan is a defensive-minded coach...well...

Oh, and Kevin Durant and his “There’s no way we’re losing this f-ing game” attitude carried a freshman-laden team to the 2nd round of the NCAA’s. Greg Oden and his “I play basketball because I'm bigger than everybody else” attitude carried a freshman-laden team to the NCAA finals. Yes, Oden had Conley, and yes, Ron Whatshisname bailed OSU out in the second round against Xavier, but still...Texas was average a good % of the year, and it wasn’t simply because Rick Barnes is a crappy coach.

Oh, and it sounds like Durant is leaning toward a major Adidas shoe deal. Portland = Nikeville. How’s THAT supposed to work??

Again, I'll be satisfied either way, and if Kevin Pritchard is so married to statistical analysis that he picks Durant, then I'll trust him (even though he's a Jayhawk) in that judgement--this kind of thinking is exactly what I want to see in a GM.

Have I mentioned how excited I am about tomorrow night, by the way? I look forward to the draft every year anyway, but this is something new. My team has the #1 pick and is looking to trade for another lottery pick (and he's willing to make jokes like "I want to break the record", in reference to the six draft day trades he made last year)...we've got HUGE names rumored to be moving (KG, Amare, maybe Marion, hell, maybe Kobe)...gonna be a fun night. Gonna be a REAL fun night. And after the draft, I get to start mentally preparing for the 2010 NBA Title.

I told you, I'm trying something new this year: optimism.