MMD May 23, 2014 0

If you watched the entire Spurs/Thunder game last night, you know it wasn’t much of one. On the post-game show Kenny Smith suggested Oklahoma City should tinker with their starting lineup. Smith said to switch out one of the defensive guys like Perkins or Collison or Sefolosha, and insert some fearless youth that can score. The only guys the Thunder have capable of boosting the offense would be Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb. Should Scott Brooks put one of those unproven guys in his starting five? Let’s take a closer look at the importance of the tertiary scorer – whether starting or off the bench – within the last era of NBA champs.

Toni Kukoc came off the bench for the Bulls. For the most part, the second three-peat Bulls team never had any big men who could really score. Jordan once described the Chicago center trio of Luc Longley, Bill Wennington, and Joe Kleine as “21 feet of shit.” Rodman was the leagues leading rebounder, but rarely contributed on offense. This made Kukoc a very valuable player, a 6’11” scorer that every team needed in the ’90’s. He had to come off the bench because there just wasn’t enough ball to go around between him, Jordan, and Pippen – but he would mix in with one or both of them at various points in the game, and was the only trustworthy scoring threat of any consistency other than the big two. A guy that size who can shoot is a luxury any team in any era would love to  have.

Before the days of Parker and Ginobili, Tim Duncan had Sean Elliot. Although “Memorial Day Miracle” may be an overly dramatic moniker, the shot he hit in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Portland in 1999 – a ridiculous spinning off-balance three (when they were down two) with NINE seconds left in Rasheed Wallace’s face – is simultaneously one of the greatest and one of the dumbest clutch shots of all-time. He hit it, so the perennial-loser-Spurs suddenly began a dynasty, but if he misses it – wow what an idiot. It should be noted he was on fire in that game and demanded the ball in the timeout, and that’s my point. Every team needs a guy who can get a shot off by any means necessary at the end of the game if the superstar turns out not to be the best option. That play against the Blazers exemplifies exactly what Elliot brings to the table, which happens to be exactly what Oklahoma City needs.

Robert Horry was never really a third option until crunch time. He was known by the lazy, corny nickname of Big Shot Bob. No nickname can ever be more accurate. Horry was the type of guy who would be quiet the whole game, and when everyone pretty much figured he wouldn’t be a factor that night, he’d hit a clutch shot to win it. For someone who rarely scored ten points in a game, I can’t think of a player that had a bigger affect on two dynasties like him. ALL he really ever did on the court was hit the biggest shot of the game.

Manu Ginobili is getting up there in age and has had his share of injuries. When he was in his prime he was near unstoppable. There really wasn’t any guard in the league who could check him (Wade?) He was super quick with silly handle, the passing skills of a 1 with the shot of a 2 plus the ability to finish in the paint. There are too many big games to list in which he was the difference, slashing unstoppably into the lane and hitting circus shots on a regular basis. He was fun to watch. Plus much respect for still rockin’ the bald spot.

Say what you want about Antoine Walker, he was an important part of the Shaq/Wade Heat. He liked to take 3’s. A lot.

Ray Allen is another guy who liked to takes lots of 3’s. The difference between Allen and Walker is Allen hit more than anyone ever. If he plays another year, he could end up with over 3,000 three-pointers. That would be over 500 more than Reggie Miller, who has the second-most all-time. More of a factor with Boston than currently with the Heat, he nonetheless continues to rack up championship rings and I still wouldn’t want the ball anywhere near him in the final seconds if I’m the opposing coach. (SEGUE) The all-time 3-point list is weird. Rashard freaking Lewis is 8th.

Andrew Bynum was an elite center for a time back when the Lakers were still the Lakers. Phil Jackson certainly wasn’t calling his number late in games, but he provided a steady 15 points per, a type of consistency the  Thunder could use.

Shawn Marion came to Dallas in a trade after Caron Butler got hurt and immediately began to chuck that ugly looking thing he calls a jump shot to great success and provided a nice option for Dirk to post and kick to.

Now I don’t know the game of basketball nearly as well as Kenny Smith, but I think what he’s trying to say is Oklahoma needs to find one of these kinds of guys. It would behoove them to use “this kind of guy” in the starting five because what they are specifically lacking is a tertiary scorer, someone who can take some of the pressure off Durant and Westbrook and hopefully spark the offense while making for a more fluid attack where the ball isn’t just going back and forth between the two stars. We know they don’t have a Ginobili, but maybe they possess something they don’t yet know they have in their arsenal. Maybe they have a guy with Horry-like ice water veins, or someone with balls the size of Elliot’s. It looks like if Reggie Jackson or Caron Butler or Jeremy Lamb do not become “that kind of guy” tomorrow, the aging Spurs will be nice and rested for The Finals.

Article By: Anthony Schiano

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