Tag:Kevin Durant
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:39 pm
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Baseline Awards: Lakers on the hunt

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore


The Baseline Awards celebrate the week that was and give you a track of where the awards are at throughout the NBA season. Some are serious, some are not, but all took way longer than necessary to compile. 

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Rajon Rondo

Three guys have had a triple-double like the one Rajon Rondo had Sunday against the Knicks. Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Rondo. That's the list. Rondo's 18-point, 17-rebound, 20-assist 3D is the stuff of legend. It's enough for him to win outright this week. We're a league absolutely obsessed with the pull-up mid-range jumpshot. We make a big deal about dunks, and we talk a big game about team defense, but really, what we care about is rising up and hitting a mid-range jumper with a hand in the face. That's what Jordan did, and many of us are colored one way or another by the Jordan era. What Rondo does is so phenomenally different in its style than anyone else's approach, it almost makes Sunday's game more impressive.

The Celtics need so much every night and Rondo continues to provide it. He wasn't even offensively efficient on Sunday. But he creates so much action on a per-minute basis that you're left wondering if he's the entire Celtics team, in reality. These trade rumors are nonsense, barring an unbelievable offer. Rondo's one of the best in the game.


Western Conference Player of the Week: Kobe Bryant


There's a perception that those that look at advanced metrics and efficiency "have it out" for Kobe Bryant. Or "are haterzzzz" or whatever. But as a guy who's a big fan of analytics and efficiency, I'm telling you right now, Kobe Bryant is playing his best ball of the season. Yes, better than the 40-point stretch. He's working in the flow of the offense, finding good shots, hitting them at a great clip, getting to the line, everything. He's been simply brilliant. He's creating for his teammates, he's playing better than usual defense (and his defense is usually above-average). These are the stretches for Bryant where you understand the constant calls for him as the best player in the world. That those are usually based on inconsistent and flawed data regarding "ringz" and "clutch" are irrelevant. The Black Mamba is striking everything right now.


The Puzzling Enigma Award: Strangest week from player or team


Phoenix Suns

How have they won three in a row? How? How is this possible? Schedule advantages aside, they knocked off a near-playoff team in Minnesota, a playoff team in the Clippers, and a feisty Kings team. All at home, sure. But that's three games in a row and they're within spitting distance of .500 and throwing distance of the 8th seed. Steve Nash is still doing this at his age. It's incredible. I have zero understanding of how they are even out of the basement.


The Horde Award: Team you should fear


Los Angeles Lakers

There are a lot of teams on impressive runs right now. But the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season. They're just tearing through teams right now. Sunday's win over the Heat was a statement game. The fact remains that if this team gets home court advantage they're going to be a killer out in the playoffs. With their size and wing defenders starting to play well, their only real deficit is at point guard and they're getting by. They're not the invincible Lakers of years past, but they're exceptionally good.


Cub Scout Troop Award: Team you should not fear


Portland Trail Blazers

It's a train wreck. The players are divided in the locker room by all accounts, there's rampant talk of Nate McMillan getting fired, and they're losing games along with the soul of their team. There isn't a more mentally weak opponent right now


Searching For Bobby Fischer Award for Stratagem:


Tom Thibodeau's late-game adjustments to San Antonio. Thibodeau recognized the damage perimeter penetration was creating and packed the lane against the Spurs, daring them to beat them on rushed shots from the outside against a super-long lineup. It worked, Tony Parker was stymied, and the Bulls got a big win over the Spurs.


Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle:


Doug Collins late-game scoring options

The Sixers need to seize on the wonderful season Andre Iguodala is having and put the ball in his hands late in games. He doesn't have to shoot it all the time, but Lou Williams is trying to go NBA Jam every time and opponents know it. They need to be able to close and even if Iguodala isn't a superstar he can play one for thirty seconds. Against the Bulls and Thunder the Sixers blew opportunities to get their daggers in by squandering possessions. Rare criticism for the presumptive Coach of the Year.


Blog of the Week: SilverScreenAndRoll.com

The Lakers have a pretty nutso fanbase, I'm going to be honest. All fans are nuts. Lakers fans think they can trade Luke Walton for Chris Paul and Matt Barnes for Andre Iguodala. To be fair, they've been on the receiving end of some of the most lopsided trades in history. But they take it far. Which is why it's great SilverScreenAndRoll.com exists. It's a site that clearly shows the Laker side of history but gives hones and open criticism, has a sense of humor about itself, and doens't stray into too much cheerleading or moping. It gives great insight into multiple ways to approach the game and should be essential reading for you.


MVP rankings:

1. LeBron James: Yup, even still. Sorry, I'm not going to throw out being the most dominant force on the planet for 45 minutes because he passes to an open man in the 48th. His legacy is compromised, his MVP resume is not.
2. Kevin Durant: Started chucking a bit against Atlanta, and falls back to the pack a bit. If James falls out because of the clutch nonsense or because they rest him, it's going to be a fight down the stretch between Durant and the two behind him.
3. Derrick Rose: Oh, hey Derrick. Good to see you back. What's that, you want to destroy all of us in a fire of impossible floaters? OK.
4. Kobe Bryant: If he does what he does and doesn't need as many bad shots to do it, this is the best pound-for-pound offensive player on the planet Earth.
5. Chris Paul: Hard to get the kind of assist numbers he should have when none of is guys can hit a shot right now.
6. Tony Parker: I'm one of the few who believes there's a big gap between Parker and the top five based on his perimeter defense. Parker ballhawks but too often is caught out of position. Which would be a problem if he hadn't been insanely brilliant this year.
7. Andre Iguodala: If I'm willing to say he's the DPOY (and I am), he should get a shot here.

(Honestly, this completes the list at this point.)


ROY Rankings:


1. Kyrie Irving: That Anderson Varejao injury may have cost us the chance to see Irving put the Fear of God in someone in the first round of the playoffs, Rose '09 style.
2. Ricky Rubio: If Rubio bounced a pass off his nose like a seal for an assist, would you be surprised? Me either.
3. Isaiah Thomas: Mr. Irrelvant is doing some special things in Sacramento, if you can bear to watch.
4. Kemba Walker: I was impressed with Walker's control during the Nets game, improving more than I thought he would.
5. MarShon Brooks: The re-emergence of Brook Lopez is giving him some issues in terms of flow. Just 20 points total in his last three games.


DPOY Rankings
1. Andre Iguodala: Night and night out the most versatile defender in the NBA.
2. Luol Deng: When Deng sticks you it's like getting snuggied by an anaconda.
3. Dwight Howard: He's so good his effort level is way down this season and he's still third.
4. LeBron James: Same deal as Howard.
5. Tony Allen: Dwane Casey called him "a pitbull." Here was his response.

Posted on: March 2, 2012 12:25 am
 

Report Card: Flying fast breaks rule

Posted by Royce Young

 No-look oop? No big.

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.


Kevin Durant
How's this: Durant: 18 points on 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter. Orlando, 21 points on 8-of-25 shooting. The Magic had Oklahoma City beat, but that KD guy hit a couple tough shots, one impossible shot and closed out Orlando, finishing with 38 total. It's really no coincidence that the Thunder are 29-7. They just figure out how to win.
Awesome fast breaks
The two best fastbreaking teams in the league both put up nominees for "Fast break oop of the night." The Heat's (above) included a Dwyane Wade no-look lob to a flying LeBron. The Thunder's featured a no-dribble break that went Durant-Westbrook-Durant for a soaring finish. Take your pick. Both were awesome.
Steve Nash
The ageless one piled up 17 assists to go with 13 points as the Suns took down Minnesota. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, how about eight rebounds too. I really don't know how Nash is doing it. At this point, if you told me he'd be averaging a double-double when he's 58, I'd believe you.
Jimmer Fredette
The Kings lost, but there were small flashes of brilliance from Jimmer. It's March, so it might be Jimmer Time. He scored only 11 points, but hit 3-of-4 from 3 and started to play with a little of that BYU swag that made him such a scoring machine.
Dwight Howard
Howard finished with 33 points on 20 shots, but was a non-factor as the Orlando offense sputtered to a halt late in the game. Howard only got a couple of baskets -- a lob, a putback dunk, another cutting dunk and a couple free throws. He wants to be a part of the late game offense, but it's really hard to see how he can be. The Thunder used Kendrick Perkins on Howard one-on-one in the post and Perkins basically stopped him.
Orlando Magic's fourth quarter As mentioned above, the Magic scored only 21 points in the fourth. The problem with that being Oklahoma City had 35. Orlando blew an 11-point lead as the Thunder came back and took a tough one from the Magic. The offense had no idea where to look for baskets outside of just chucking a deep 3 and hoping Howard could clean up the glass.
Beasley and Williams
A night after going for a combined 54 on 20-25 shooting, Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams combined for nine points on 3-15 shooting.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 8:10 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

Derrick Rose will play big minutes in the second half and could steal a second MVP from LeBron James. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

As the NBA catches its breath after a hurried rush to the season and a whirlwind All-Star Weekend, we turn our attention to the NBA's stretch run, the second half. We're at the point with the trade deadline looming two weeks away where teams will begin to make moves to either ramp up for a playoffs run or bottom out in rebuilding projects. Will the Heat keep up their pace? Can the Bulls finally get healthy and if so, how good can they be then? Are the Thunder legitimate title contenders? Are the Spurs "back" once again?

So many questions, so little time.

A huge element in the second half of the season is going to be minutes. The best teams will rest their players while desperate teams will have to play to the bone. The Bulls are somehow a great team and a desperate team. They want every advantage including homecourt advantage, and below we'll tell you how that could impact the MVP race.

So we present the Baseline Awards second-half predictions, focused on who will be taking the various trophies for the second half of the season.

Projected Eastern Conference Player of the Second Half: Derrick Rose

LeBron James is the runaway MVP leader, the best player on the planet, and was nearly flawless in the first half, despite the end to that All-Star Game. So why isn't he here? Because the Heat will have a top-two seed locked up by early April, and then you're going to see James take more and more games off as the Heat rest him for the playoffs. What he does between now and then will determine is MVP, but in the meantime, Tom Thibodeau plays his players 35 minutes a game even when they're hurt. Assuming that the All-Star rest helped Rose recover from the back and leg injuries that hampered him this season, he'll get the minutes, he'll get the production, he'll get the win. I expect big things from the reigning MVP in the second half.

Projected Western Conference Player of the Second Half: Kevin Durant

It's terrifying that a kid, a 23-year-old kid, can lead the league in scoring two years in a row and then make the leap. But that's what Durant has done. Everything is better. His efficiency. His productivity. His team. His leadership. His clutch play. And his defense. It's a phenomenal streak the kid's on and there's zero reason to think he'll slow down in the second half. The West is just competitive enough for the Thunder to keep Durant playing nightly and yet not good enough to challenge the Thunder for the top spot in the West (though San Antonio's making a good show of it).

Most-Likely to Succeed: Miami Heat

They have it together. They have no discernible weaknesses, outside of "Can LeBron James succeed in the clutch?" and that's not a regular season concern. The offense is clicking, their chemistry is good, they've had fewer distractions, they're playing at an elite level on both sides of the ball and their injuries haven't been significant. It may be sickening, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the baddest team in the land until further notice.

Least-Likely to Succeed: Charlotte Bobcats

Here's the worst thing about the Bobcats. They don't even have anything of value to firesell. Tyrus Thomas is having a terrible season, Corey Maggette has been injured, D.J. Augustin is just good enough to be their best player and not good enough to draw huge offers on the market. Gerald Henderson may be their best asset and he's too good to move. If they keep this team, they'll be horrible. If they sell off the parts for future components, they'll be terrible. If the lottery doesn't help this team, it's going to be classified as negligible cruelty.

Best Dressed: Indiana Pacers throwbacks

These jerseys are awesome. (Getty Images)


Those blues and yellows are just sharp as all get out.

Worst Dressed: Memphis Grizzlies throwbacks

This, not so much a crime against fashion as a crime against humanity. (Getty Images)


Let us never speak of these again.

Class Clown: JaVale McGee

Runs the other direction, denies things he's said into tape recorders, goes for triple-doubles in blowouts, makes ridiculous goaltends and has somehow failed to get better with John Wall on his team. McGee is funny. But someone really needs to get into his head and straighten things out or a world of potential is going to be lost.

Projected Defensive Player of the Year: Luol Deng

Andre Iguodala deserves it, but Deng may end up winning it simply based on reputation. If Deng is healthy, he's the best perimeter defender in the league. Dwight Howard has struggled at times and hasn't been as dominant. If the coaches really vote this one right, Deng should win as long as he continues to get healthy and Tom Thibodeau doesn't run him into the ground.

Smoke and Mirrors Award for False Relevance: Atlanta Hawks

Always a top-six team in the standings, never a top-six team in the conference. The Hawks have managed to survive a drop-off from Joe Johnson and the injury to Al Horford. The team is supremely in need of a complete makeover but none seems imminent. So they will continue to drift through the season, winning games and getting no credit, losing games and getting hammered, never going up or down. Consistency in this league is often heralded as success. But with the Hawks, it's always seen as evidence of either a mediocre student over-achieving or an excellent student never living up to potential.

Most Likely to Blow It Up: Boston Celtics

The holes have not been plugged. They have not rounded into shape. They have not righted the ship. The experience has not come through. The casual approach to conditioning has not yielded the results they want. They did not coast, they stumbled. They did not cruise, they crashed. They are alive only because of Rajon Rondo and the weakness of the Eastern Conference. The time has come to end this and move on. Sentimentality is not worth wasting time, because if the big free agents get re-aligned and the Celtics have nothing to move forward with, they'll be back in the stone age they were in before the Big 3 arrived.

Carmelo Anthony Award for MeloDrama: Dwight Howard

"I want a trade! But I love it here! But I want more input on decisions in the front office! But I'm just trying to play! I'm not talking about free agency! Except to talk to you about how much I'm not talking about it! I love my teammates! But I love Deron Williams! I love New York! But I love Orlando! I love my mom! But I make my own decisions!"

It's like watching a teenage girl decide between four boys while the one she's with can't figure out what he did wrong.

Projected Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Ricky Rubio's a nice story. Neat passes. Irving should have been an All-Star and is going to be an elite player in this league over the next decade. Cleveland's rebuild is on its way, just 19 months removed from "The Decision."

Most Likely to be Traded: Stephen Jackson

Steve Nash could go. Dwight Howard might go. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon. But Jackson is owed a lot of money, the Bucks don't need him, and he and Skiles hate each other. He's a bad fit in the locker room and a bad fit on the floor. It's .50 cents on the dollar time in Milwaukee for CapJack.

The 2012 Version of the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies:

The Houston Rockets. I'm starting to buy into Houston as a surprise team. Memphis used team play, star power from Zach Randolph and a unique matchup with San Antonio to get into the second round. Houston has a Should-Be-All-Star in Kyle Lowry and world of versatility in lineups they can deploy. Throw in the work that Kevin McHale has done and the fact they're 4-4 this year against division opponents (three of which are likely playoff teams) and you've got a great shot at Houston making a surprising, if ultimately futile, run. Hurray, another mid-first-round lottery pick!

Most Likely to Hit the Rookie Wall:

MarShon Brooks. Brooks is going to be a terrific scorer in this league for a long time. He's got an elite set of offensive skills and tremendous length. He can play in an offense, too. But his game is predicated on shooting percentages and that's the kind of thing that can drop off when it hits the rookie wall. I full expect to have jinxed Brooks and he will now go out and win Rookie of the Year. His play in the win over the Knicks last week was superb.

Most Likely to Make Himself a Name by Season's End: Paul George

Should have won the dunk contest. Played Rose great last year. The Pacers are better than last year and are primed for a playoff run. Getting them out of the postseason is going to be a serious job, and George is going to be a huge part of it. More versatile on offense, better on defense, athletic, explosive, with range. George isn't going to score 40. But he's going to be a part of a lot of playoff wins for Indiana and is going to be that guy in the playoffs that make sports bars of opposing teams groan "Not that guy again!" time and time over. By the way, I've started calling him Mega-Man because it seems like every game he picks up a new ability he didn't have before.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:58 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:00 am
 

Check that trophy off: Durant wins All-Star MVP

Posted by Royce Young



ORLANDO -- There are certain boxes a player needs to check off while building an all-time resume. And Kevin Durant just pulled out a big red marker.

The 23-year-old superstar has already accomplished quite a lot in his four-plus NBA seasons. He's won two scoring titles. He's been named to the All-Star team three times, twice as a starter. Been named to three All-NBA teams. He's played in the Western Conference Finals. He won the HORSE competition twice in a row. OK, so that last one's not so prestigious.

But now he's got an All-Star MVP. That's a bunch of checks for a guy that only started driving seven years ago.

Durant took home the trophy with a 36-point, seven-rebound, three-assist performance in the West's 152-149 victory over the East in the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando. He tied with LeBron James for the game-high in points, but taking nine out of 13 possible votes, Durant took home the award.

"It's just exciting to be named an All-Star, but to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about," Durant said. "Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited. I'm glad I'm taking this back to Oklahoma City."

It was obvious early on that Durant was serious about this glorified exhibition game. He attacked often, slowed into his gorgeous pull-up game and became the West's offensive focal point. Which is saying something when you're sharing the floor with Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin.

Durant had 21 points at the half, 34 at the end of the third quarter and when he checked back in with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, he had a realistic shot at Wilt Chamberlain's 1962 all-time mark of 42 points in an All-Star Game.

"I didn't know. I didn't know," he said about Chamberlain's mark. "But you know, MVP is something that you want to get in this game, and I'm glad I got it. It made me feel better, all the guys congratulated me. It's just crazy now that I can hoist this trophy."

One thing that helped? Durant's coach, Scott Brooks was leading the Western All-Stars, which meant Durant basically could call his own game. He got a game-high 37 minutes and it was pretty clear that he had an eye on that MVP trophy.

"I wasn’t surprised at all,” he said. “Me and Scotty have been talking about this for a couple of weeks.”

Said Brooks about his golden calf: "He just comes in and does his work. He's a tremendous kid as well as you all know. Off the court, he's classy, he's a special teammate. What he does doesn't surprise me other than he did well at the Three-point Shooting Contest last night. That actually surprised me."

The All-Star Game always has an open feel to it and high point total aren't anything to get excited about. That's just part of it. Players have big games, piling up points on easy dunks, layups and open jumpers. But it does say something about who's getting those looks. It's about who's deferring to who, who's taking control. For instance, with Kobe Bryant on the floor with Durant and the East pulling within a point, it was Durant's running floater that put the West back up three. Durant took the most shots (25) and basically controlled the offense. That's the power of the Durantula -- he pushed the Black Mamba aside and owned the game. Not an easy thing to do.

You can say it was a changing of the guard, a passing of the baton or whatever metaphor you feel like working in, but as Kobe set the all-time mark for points in the game, passing Michael Jordan, Durant took home the MVP and was the West's alpha dog. With three games under his belt, Durant's off to a good start. Bryant sits on 271, Durant 186 shy of that and a lot of years ahead of him.

Said Dwyane Wade, “With KD in the league, I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

Durant has always preferred to stay humble and quiet about his own other-worldly game, choosing to just let his play do his talking. He's never called himself great, never pointed at anything he's done. And even on one of the NBA's biggest stages after winning one of the game's most prestigious pieces of hardware, he still wouldn't just finally admit he's a real superstar.

"I wouldn't say that yet. Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that," he said. "Once I grow old, I can tell my kids that I got an All-Star Game trophy."

Trust me, KD. You're going to be telling your kids about a whole lot more trophies than just that one.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:55 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:18 pm
 

Kevin Durant wins 2012 All-Star MVP

By Matt Moore 

Kevin Durant won the 2012 NBA All-Star MVP with 36 points on 14-25 shooting, with seven rebounds and three assists Sunday as the West won 152-149. It is his first All-Star MVP and a clear demonstration of the next level Durant is at. You have to wonder if the actual MVP is far behind this season. 

LeBron James also had 36 but turned the ball over on the final possession out of a double-team. Because, really, you knew that had to happen for us to have something stupid to write about tonight.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:26 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 9:57 pm
 

Video: NBA All-Star Game CP3 off glass to KD

By Matt Moore 

Kevin Durant called for Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Derrick Rose to participate in the All-Star Dunk Contest. But after this one from CP3 off the glass, we're not sure he shouldn't give it a go. Then again, everyone looks awesome getting passes from CP3. 

 

That's a bad man. 

KD on pace for All-Star MVP honors.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:13 pm
 

Durant: LeBron, stars need to save Dunk Contest

Kevin Durant wants to stop things like this from happening. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver 

There's a consensus: something big needs to change so that the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest never happens again.

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday night's Slam Dunk Contest, which was marred by zero All-Star participants, terrible dunks, too many scripted stories, an absence of judges and a sketchy fan voting process, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant made a clear statement: The NBA's biggest stars need to participate in future Dunk Contests.

"It's time for LeBron James, Mr. [Russell] Westbrook, Mr. [Derrick] Rose and Dwyane Wade to get in the Dunk Contest," Durant tweeted.

"Not me but I agree with the others," Wade replied.

On Friday, James told reporters that he would consider participating in the Dunk Contest if there was a substantial winner-take-all prize.

Durant's list of participants for a dream Dunk Contest is interesting, but imperfect.

Clearly, James is the holy grail. In the heart of his prime at 27 years old, he is probably the NBA's second best in-game dunker, trailing only Blake Griffin. A master of catching lobs, finishing with authority and getting way, way off the ground, he's an absolute no-brainer. Imagine full-court alley-oops, broken rims, backboard slapping. He could even dunk a ball then dunk his headband with the other hand as a response to all his hairline haters. He needs to do a Dunk Contest.

Westbrook, Durant's teammate in Oklahoma City, is an excellent pick as well. He flies at the rim like a scud missile, taking off from deep and finishing with plenty of force. He's got the charisma and moxie not to stand toe-to-toe with James too. He wouldn't shrink. He should definitely be in.

At 30, Wade's dunking prime is probably behind him, although he's still capable of putting anyone in the league on a poster. He would be better cast as the teammate/hype man for James and, realstically, these two would never face off against each other under any circumstances. If the Alpha Dog stuff is bad now, imagine the outcry and headlines if Wade somehow managed to upset James in a Dunk Contest. Let him throw the lob passes and dish out the daps.

Rose's inclusion by Durant is questionable. His physical talents are beyond reproach but his specialty is finishing lay-ups in traffic and/or after drawing contact, not dunking free of obstacles. Would he be compelling in this format? His personality doesn't exactly scream Dunk Contest. He's a technically sound dunker but his efforts are more likely to make you go "mmm" rather than get off your feet and scream.

If James and Westbrook are in this and Wade and Rose are out, the final two spots should be filled by Griffin -- obviously -- and either Dwight Howard... or Durant himself. Howard has been there, done that with the Dunk Contest many times before, but he always seemed to back up the stupid costumes and props with memorable dunks. His flying Superman slam/shove dunk, for example, will stand as a classic for decades. One of the all-time "Wow" Dunk Contest moments. Who wouldn't trade all of Saturday night's contest for that one dunk? No one.

While Durant is not a prototypical Slam Dunk competitor, he has absurd length, good hops, a star's personality and a respect for the history of the game that would likely inspire him to new levels of creativity. If anyone is going to come up wtih something that's never been done before, it's Durant. His wingspan would allow for up and under dunks from the baseline or behind the backboard. Surely James Harden could be on hand to provide the necessary passes and encouragement.

But this is exactly the problem. Everyone, including Durant, wants to see the stars in the Dunk Contest. But none of the stars, including Durant, is ready to step up and nominate themselves to be thrown into the ring.

No doubt, some prize money needs to be involved here, given how central an event this is on the NBA calendar. But the stars should look back at what past Dunk Contests have done for the likes of Howard and Griffin and realize that the "there's nothing to gain and so much to lose" argument doesn't hold much water. Does anyone honestly believe that James would fall on his face during a Dunk Contest? Come on. He would kill it, just like Griffin did last year, and then he would profit off of it for years to come, just like Griffin is doing right now.

Hopefully Durant's Twiter plea is the first in a wave that will finally convince these guys to suck it up and get out there. Peer pressure, in this case, is a very good thing.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 11:46 pm
 

Jeremy Evans wins 2012 Slam Dunk Contest

By Matt Moore 

The dunk contest is dead. 

Many of you are rolling your eyes, either because you think it's been dead for nearly a decade, many of you because you feel it's not important enough to be declared DOA. But it's over. It's done. I've tried for several years to argue that the contest is too fun and the chances of a rare excellent dunk (like DeMar DeRozan's East Bay Funk Dunk Remix last year) makes it worth it. But we hit a new low this year.

In a dunk contest that featured Derrick Williams dunking over a motorcycle (after Blake Griffin did it over a car last year), a really unfortunate "White Man Can't Jump" skit with Sean Combs, and Jeremy Evans trying something called the "iJam" which was him attaching a camera to himself while dunking, this was the one that wound up winning it for Evans.

 

The problem is JaVale McGee essentially did the same dunk last year, minus dunking over a professional Starcraft player in Gordon Hayward seated. Exceptionally difficult dunk, but I'm not entirely sure how impressive it really was. There's a gap between impressive and difficult, and this dunk is it. 

The dunk that may have actually been the best but didn't translate was Paul George's "Tron Dunk" (via Shaq).

 

The only way to get the dunk contest back to life is for stars to put aside their brand and participate. LeBron. Blake Griffin. We need stars to keep this thing alive or we just need to watch it fade away. 

However, you do have to feel good for Evans. He genuinely, very much wanted to participate in this contest, he lobbied to be included, he was thrilled to be a part of it, he's really happy to have won. We need that attitude, just with more violence in the dunks, fewer props and skits. Velocity plus veracity. Until then, the dunk contest is over.  
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com