Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SLAM Examines the WNBA

SLAM Online has one of the best articles I've read about a WNBA game. John Krolic covers the Sky/Sparks game and this is what he has to say:

So, what did I learn from this foray into the highest levels of women’s basketball? First off, don’t let all the jazz about how the women’s game is a fundamental, almost Marxist affair on the court fool you — this is just as much of a league of stars as the NBA. The division between the money players and the role players might be even more pronounced than it is on the men’s side of things, and the stars are just as impressive to watch. Watching Dupree explode from the high-post and look at once forceful and serpentine as she got an and one, Leslie work like a professor in the paint at both ends of the floor, and Candace Parker do just about everything that can be done with a basketball is just as impressive as watching the LeBrons, Wades, and Kobes of this world, believe me.

The other lesson, and this is one that could inform how we watch the men’s game, is that the WNBA really is a bastion of all the skills that many have lamented no longer exist in the men’s game — post moves, floaters, bank shots, mid-range jumpers, weak-side feeds, ball rotation, flex sets that take three screens and five passes before a good shot. But it’s also apparent that women utilize all of these things because they’re forced to — as beautiful as a made basket ends up looking in the women’s pro game, it cannot be ignored that the baskets also come far less frequently. The women can’t explode to the rack or drain three-pointers as well as the guys can, so they’ve been forced to adapt with mid-range strategies. The mid-range game in the NBA is a casualty of logic — dunks and threes are the focus in the NBA because they work, to put it simply. The WNBA game is wonderful to watch because the women have to show the kind of ingenuity and perseverance to get buckets that was necessary in the NBA’s early days, but it should be realized that the nostalgia for these skills in the NBA game is what it is — a desire for strategy to take a step backwards on the macro level, even if the game appears dumbed-down on the micro level.

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