Friday, May 05, 2006

Windows (Game 6, Book #6)

Greetings from the road. And by road, I mean Casa de Tall.

While reading Chris Palmer's (of ESPN: The Fluff-Piecer Magazine) new book, "The 6th Man: A Season Inside the NBA Playground", a concept he returns to with frequency is the "Window" for a given player. So many guys are so close in talent that much of success is determined by opportunity and chemistry. And goven the myriad rules surrounding NBA salaries, all of that has to come together with the player performing well just before contract time.

The Suns-Lakers series has been notable for many things (not least the return of Evil Kobe last night), but one of the more interesting aspects to me has been the several illustrations of the Window.

Boris Diaw - two years languishing in Atlanta, gets traded, wins Most Improved Player, and is poised to make The Leap to All-Star status next year. Raja Bell - nice role player throughout his career, gets a move to a good team which plays a very egalitarian style, and is suddenly a 15 ppg scorer, and solid starter.

But my favorite example is Tim Thomas, because he demonstrates the Window Corrallary - for players with either great size or great potential, a player could have multiple windows. Thomas himself is on his 3rd or 4th, and that's just this season. And he's been the best player for the Suns this series (and that was before the season saving three from last night.)

For this same reason, Kenyon Martin will get another shot with some other team despite being a team-killing cancer in Denver. Jerome James and Erick Dampier got ridiculous contracts for being seven-feet tall and being able to maintain consciosness while on the floor for short periods of time.

But back to Thomas, it makes you wonder that was so wrong with him before, or, alternatively, what was so wrong with everyone else? Is he just the type of personality who needs a specfic type of coach to flourish (evidence points to 'yes' to the latter, as D'Antoni is getting yeoman's work from him while noted disciplinarians such as George Karl and Scott Skiles could not.)

As for the rest of Palmer's book, it's the closest thing I've seen to a modern day equivalent of William Miller's road trip in Almost Famous - he's not so much a reporter as a buddy who's along for the ride and writes stuff down. Not that there's anything wrong with that, there are plenty of amusing annectdotes about NBA life that make it satisfying without being exactly hard-hitting investigative journalism.

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