1. I'm just about finished with the Bargnani comparisons, I promise, but thought it interesting to poke away a little at Mehmet Okur's numbers given he's another centre that has defined himself in part by his ability shoot with deep range. He's a very good player, an all-star but not quite at the all-NBA level Nowitzki plays at, so maybe a more reasonable comparison for Bargnani. He's been a very consistent NBA player with a PER of between 18.3 and 19.0 over his seven seasons, the two exceptions being his rookie season (14.7) and last season 15.2. One thing he's done better over the course of his career than Bargnani is he's been a pretty solid rebounder for a jump shooting big. And once again, as compared to Bargnani, he's shown himself to be a more consistent shooter, averaging between 46 and 49 per cent from the floor, with the exception of his rookie season and last season. This year he's headed for a career-best, converting 49.6 per cent from the floor and 45.8 per cent from deep. An interesting point: His best years in terms of PER have come when he's averaged just three three-point attempts a game. The previous two years he averaged 4.4 and 4.5 three-point shots a game and they were his worst seasons, by PER at least, since he was a rookie.
2. Making threes is statistically an efficient way to score, on paper anyway - shooting 33 per cent on threes is like shooting 50 per cent on two-pointers. But my contention is that for a big man at least, shooting threes at a high volume is counter productive. Maybe it's because it takes the ball out of the hands of other guys; maybe it's because it takes them away from the paint and doing other important things. I can't say I can put my finger on exactly why, but I don't think it's a coincidence that Nowitzki and Okur have had better years when they shoot the three-ball less than more. And once again I'll argue that Bargnani's biggest obstacle to being a 'plus' player is offensive consistency, and his reliance on threes and short-comings in his mid-range game are the main reason for that.
3. By the way, I wrote that before the game, so I was feeling pretty smart when through three quarters Bargnani had 20 points on just 10 shots. He took just two triples, but both came after he'd already established himself on some post-ups and some penetration.
4. Paul Millsap does a lot of good things on the floor, but perhaps what he does best is keep the ball alive. Twice in the first quarter he came in late on a play and was able to not only get a hand on a ball, but kind of tip it to himself in such a way that he could gain control or in one case slap it off Bosh and out of bounds. In either situation he's not just banging his way to the ball; he gets there with a plan.
5. Shawn Marion is a way more limited offensive player than I thought. Wow. If he's not scoring on the break or on the offensive glass, he's not scoring, as the increasingly unwatchable series of bricks he's thrown up - and I do mean thrown up - around the basket have shown the last couple of games.
6. It's kind of an obvious thing to say, but Deron Williams is a fantastic ball-handler. Hard to quantify, but the things that stand out to me are that he's constantly using the dribble to be dangerous: lots of shuffles and probes just in case someone is sleeping. He can change directions in traffic really well. He also keeps his dribble alive under almost any circumstances, so the defence can never really get any effective pressure on the ball. He's obviously pretty quick, but not freak show quick, yet he beats guys be using his dribble to get guys off balance and then he attacks. Very nice player to watch.