Monday Bullets

  • It may seem weird and archaic, but a debate about who should be MVP.

  • M. Haubs of The Painted Area digs even deeper to examine why it is the Bulls win so much, and finds that in their big push since the All-Star break, Derrick Rose's offense has actually gotten less efficient. He has been shooting more 3s than ever, and making just 28 percent of them. (In the first half of the season, he shot fewer, and made 36 percent of them.): "The 3-point shooting is truly stunning. Another oft-cited weakness of Rose's game prior to the season, he reportedly worked on his long-distance shooting throughout the offseason, and such evidence can be seen in his pre-All-Star break numbers. What's shocking about Rose's outside-shooting numbers is not that his percentage has regressed back near that of his first two seasons (.242 overall), but that he's still jacking them up at such a high volume (his 109 threes since the break is almost as many as he attempted in his first two seasons combined: 132). Derrick Rose is a great player who has had an outstanding season. He is the best player on the best team in the Eastern Conference. He has been the driving offensive force in pulling out wins in the fourth quarter on several occasions. The Bulls offense as a whole has been excellent when he's been on the floor. But Derrick Rose has been one of several key factors -- defense (and the coaching behind it), Rose, rebounding, bench -- in the Bulls' surprising success this season. He has not been the single primary factor."

  • Here's a case that the Rockets screwed up in trading Shane Battier to the Grizzlies, who are their rivals for a playoff spot. I see the logic there, but it must be noted that the Rockets have played their best basketball of the season since the trade. We could dig in further, but the Battier who plays for the Grizzlies now is simply not playing at the same level as the guy who built that reputation as an all-world defender.

  • Sports are associated with a certain kind of improved brain performance.

  • The Jazz said a while ago, on the record, that they would have happily traded Deron Williams to the Knicks. This has gotten almost no attention from the New York media, but in assessing how the Knicks got here, that's a factor, right?

  • The power of ball movement: How the Nuggets play offense post-Carmelo Anthony.

  • John Salley on the Bulls: "We beat them psychologically, and obviously it's still working." (Via Ball Don't Lie)

  • Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated on why the Lakers are once again the favorites: "In their 15-1 stretch since the All-Star break, the Lakers have scored 109.3 points per 100 possessions, according to Hoopdata. Only one team -- Denver -- has a better mark over the full season. On defense, the Lakers have surrendered just 99 points per 100 possessions in that 16-game run; only the Bulls and Celtics have been stingier, and the gap vanishes once you consider that the Lakers have played a strong schedule in that span. Put simply, the Lakers are playing both offense and defense better than anyone else. They’re also as healthy as any veteran-heavy team can expect to be now. Ron Artest is surging, Pau Gasol’s mid-range jumper has reached the point where it should inspire terror in opposing fans upon release, and Andrew Bynum is playing the best all-around ball of his career. In doing so, Bynum is helping change the Lakers’ identity in a way that makes them fit more closely the conventional notion of a “playoff-style” team (if you believe in such things). And even so, they remain unconventional in ways that make them extra difficult to deal with. The Lakers have quietly morphed into a slow-it-down team on offense. For the first time in the Kobe/Gasol era, L.A. is averaging fewer possessions per game than the league average. This is a pretty shocking thing, considering that L.A. has played at one of the fastest paces in the league for most of the last three seasons (though the slow-down began last season). No team turns the ball over less, and the Lakers, with Bynum healthy, have been a very good defensive rebounding team. You can no longer cling to the hope that the slower, tougher style of the playoffs will handicap this team."

  • New numbers examine how well the Heat's big three have scored in crunch time this season and the answer is: Not too well.

  • Out of about six million entries, two people correctly predicted this season's Final Four.

  • Monta Ellis is fun to watch, and he knows it.

  • Arizona's Derrick Williams, in mixtape form.

  • Jay-Z in Coach John Calipari's locker room? The words "William Wesley" don't appear in this story, but they're hovering.

  • Steve Nash broke Poland's biggest nose, and he intends to hang it on his mantle. (Scroll down, hilarious.)

  • Watch the Mavericks play defense!

  • By playing on a bad team at a high tempo, Kevin Love gets a nice little statistical bump.

  • Sebastian Pruiti on the Kings: "Using Del Harris’ rules for fouling up three (which is quickly turning into my preferred strategy as well) that include fouling with under 7 seconds left and only if the man with the ball has his back turned to the rim, the Kings had a chance to foul Spencer Hawes at halfcourt as he made the catch." The Kings won in overtime, but Pruiti is suggesting that they could have won in regulation with a little strategic thinking.

  • I love a good lob.

  • Assessing Michael Jordan as an owner.