Evan Turner

Friday And-1 links: No pressure Evan Turner, none at all

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like this kid seems to love surfing the Web (and gets a little testy when he can’t).

• Everyone in Philadelphia is expecting Evan Turner to make a big leap this year. Including Sixers coach Doug Collins. But no pressure kid.

• We told you a while back Golden State’s Andris Biedrins was having some tax problems back in his native Latvia (he didn’t pay tax on a boat he bought in the U.S. then took back to Latvia to use). Well, the wheels of justice finally ground to a halt and he was fined the equivalent of $3,730 by the Latvian government. A lot less than the $70,000 and time in jail they threatened him with. In case you were curious, Biedrins made $9 million last season. So he can probably swing the fine.

• Do you want to see Nuggets coach George Karl on stage singing with Bob Marley’s old band the Wailers, belting out “One Love?” Of course you do, what kind of stupid question is that.

• Portland’s Elliot Williams finally had his surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon on Friday. He is still done for the season.

• Today’s “player X has really been working on his game this summer” note comes from Chandler Parsons of the Rockets. He has spent the offseason really focusing on his leg strength.

• Another ridiculous report out of the local media there (via Sactown Royalty) that Virginia Beach is going after the Kings once they get approval for their stadium, and talks with the Kings are ongoing. After what I read out of their last City Council discussion of this, them even getting a stadium built seems a long shot, let alone landing the Kings. But sure, they can talk to the Maloofs all they want. Not going to matter.

• The Jazz signed second-round pick Kevin Murphy to a make-good contract to bring him into camp.

• Veteran Brian Cook got an invite to the Wizards training camp.

• If you want to see some pretty cool basketball animation, really fluid stuff, follow this link.

• I kind of liked this Red Bull King of the Rock teaser video, so I’m passing it along. (King of the Rock is a one-on-one tournament sponsored by the marketing company that is Red Bull.)

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.