TOUGH! Oklahoma City vs. Miami Heat. The Big Three vs. The Big Three. Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. Dwyane Wade vs. Russell Westbrook. Who matches up with Chris Bosh? Is it Serge Ibaka or Kendrick Perkins? Who matches up with James Harden? Is it Mario Chalmers or by Mike Miller? Gonna be a good one!
You know how corporate people have Take Your Kids To Work Day? Yeah, well when your an NBA superstar(s) that are sponsored by Skullcandy Headphones, you can have a Take A Supermodel To Work Day and spend it with the amazing Kate “Cat Daddy” Upton.
Incase you’ve been under a rock these past few days – Blake Griffin MOZGOV’D Kendrick Perkins while LeBron James JUMPED OVER John Lucas III for the alley-oop. Both players are not human. Who’s the better dunker? And for all you dunk enthusiasts out there, enjoy 2 bonus dunks after the jump: LeBron posterizing Bill Walker and Andre Iguodala going off the glass to himself.
Not all good things stay together, or great for that matter. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won 6 NBA championships during their partnership (could have been 8 had he not retired twice and left basketball for a mind-boggling baseball decision), as well as Kobe and Shaq winning 3 rings together as a duo in Los Angeles. And now, sadly, those kind of conversations are now starting to include arguably the best, and youngest duo in the league: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
They’ve been best friends since the beginning, they’ve been All-Stars together and they’re both the go-to guys on the Oklahoma City Thunder (although the word “go-to” should only describe Durant in crunch-time, not Westbrook. He’s a point-guard.), but there’s something in the middle. Something that just isn’t quite right, and that’s Westbrook.
I’m not saying that Russ was a bad fit from the start, I’m saying that he’s slowly grown into that category the last two seasons. He’s never been a great shooter, 3-point shooter and ball handler for that matter, and that’s coming back to his UCLA days. He’s a shooting-guard playing a point-guard role in OKC (which doesn’t end well when you have a franchise player in Durant who averages nearly 30 points a night).
Remember a guy by the name of Allen Iverson? He’s a Hall of Fame player and the best that ever played the game under 6-foot, but he was forced to play the point guard role throughout his career when he couldn’t. He’s naturally a shooter. That’s why teams gave him a bad reputation that he’s a ball-hog and won’t help your team win a championship because he’ll always need it in his hands. It’s an addiction.
During the ’08-09 season, Westbrook averaged 14 shots a night (41.8 percent) for 16 points, 8 assists and 3.3 turnovers. In 2010-11, he averaged 21.9 points (17 shots, 44 percent), 8 assists and 3.9 turnovers. This season? 15.3 points (17 shots, 31 percent), 6 assists and 6 turnovers.
For a point guard, that’s not a good look.
As for shots, he should be somewhere between the 9 and 11 range while shooting in the high 40s from the field. Prior to this season, his 8 assists were excellent but they could a tad higher (10?), but his turnovers are atrocious. Westbrook has been so focused on scoring the basketball for so long in his life that for the most part, his decision making is where it should be. Where it needs to be is a whole ‘nother story. He needs to slow the pace down and make smarter passes, take smarter shots, ect. if he plans on manning the ship for the Thunder.
They’re built to play that way.
When trade rumors arose during the lockout that a possible trade between OKC and the Boston Celtics could take place — with Boston trading Rajon Rondo to Oklahoma City while the Celtics received Westbrook in return — most said it was crazy, but the truth is, having Rondo control the Thunder’ offense would take them to a championship a lot quicker than it will with Westbrook.
When the “Argument Heard Around The World” went viral Wednesday night — detailed by The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry — where Westbrook was overheard yelling at Thabo Sefolosha for passing up an open shot and when Durant tried to calm him down, Westbrook snapped at Durant (Something to make a report about, and talk about it for 24 hours on ESPN? No, not at all. It happens, teammates argue all the time. Friends, family, whatever, arguments happen).
24 hours later, ESPN beat writer J.A. Adande wrote an interesting piece on why Westbrook won’t work in OKC for not only the long-run, but financially as well:
The Rose Rule already bumped Durant’s paycheck by an extra $2.5 million a year, and Westbrook could be living in that same $18 million-a-season neighborhood. Depending on what other moves the Thunder make, a huge boost to Westbrook’s salary could put Oklahoma City in luxury tax territory next season and beyond. Starting in 2013-14 the tax will be progressively more punitive than the simple dollar-for-dollar surcharge in place now, and there are additional penalties for repeat tax “offenders.” In addition tax teams have restrictions on their abilities to make trades and sign players to the full mid-level exception.
To sum it up, Adande is stating that by the Thunder locking up Westbrook to a huge deal will ultimately hurt them in the long run when it comes to re-signing other key attributes and going after other appealing talent in free agency. One thing, though, that was really brought to my attention (it’s actually the reason why I’m writing this in the first place) is when J.A. threw out a trade idea that would send Westbrook to Golden State in exchange for Steph Curry (very interesting):
Curry is still on his rookie contract through 2012-13 (when he’ll make $4 million) so he would almost guarantee the Thunder stay below the tax threshold for another year, and he probably won’t be eligible for the Rose Rule pay boost, which would keep his maximum salary 5 percent lower than what Westbrook’s might be when it’s time to re-sign him.
Curry would also give the Thunder more scoring punch from the starting 2-guard spot than they currently have from Sefolosha. From Golden State’s perspective, Westbrook is a better defender than Curry, and that should count a lot for the new-look Warriors. (Believe it or not, Mark Jackson’s squad is among the top 10 defenses for fewest opponent points allowed so far.) And Westbrook is more likely to cause sprained ankles than suffer as many as Curry has.
Interesting enough, Curry was a fan favorite in OKC during the ’09 NBA Draft when the volume shooter was coming out of Davidson (many wanted him over James Harden). Although it’s an intriguing idea, Adande failed to mention one thing: Monta Ellis.
Trading Ellis for Westbrook makes a lot more sense for Golden State than it does by shipping Curry out the door, but it’s almost an identical swap. On paper it seems that Westbrook would help the Warriors out more than Ellis already does, but it’s somewhat misleading.
Golden State would still have the same problems defensively that they do now, and they’d still have the same turnover issues that Ellis provides and the out-of-control shooting outbursts throughout the night.
This what happens when you put a shooter at a facilitators position.
Lets say for a minute that Westbrook does end up in Golden State at some point between this season and the next (this isn’t a rumor, this is just a discussion), what’s the guarantee that he would automatically turn into a facilitator on a team built for running? As for Curry, yes, he’s had issues with his ankle, but at the end of the day he has the higher basketball IQ, and that includes his shooting, passing skills, and the ability to spread the floor substantially better than Russ.
If the Warriors are in a “win now” situation — which I don’t believe they are since they just hired a brand new coach in Mark Jackson — and if the front office believes Curry is going to be an injury-prone player from here on out, I could see them offering this kind of trade. Other than that, no. It doesn’t make enough sense because at this point I’d rather pay Curry $3 million less to run my offense like a point guard should, than pay Westbrook $3 million more to run it like a shooter.
A lot of the ESPN writers voted for either Chris Paul or LeBron James (what else is new?) to be named the league MVP this season. I chose Kevin Durant and I’m sticking to it. Yes, we’re only 4 games into the season and Durant’s averaging 31 points per game and shooting 56 percent from the field (which I’m sure will drop at some point), but now is his time.
In a 48-minute shootout tonight against Dallas and with 1.4 seconds on the clock, down by 1 after Vince Carter hit a go-ahead 3 pointer to give the Mavericks a 102-101 lead, the entire arena knows the ball is going to Durant, and with good reason. Given a great pick set by James Harden to free Durant from Shawn Marion, it gave KD just enough time (.2 seconds) to put the nail in the coffin. Best shot of the season thus far? I think so.
Above (from l-r): Carmelo Anthony wore his Jordan Melo M8 Christmas Day kicks in a win against the C’s, Chris Paul wore his Jordan CP3.V XMas day kicks in his debut with the Clippers, and D-Wade rocked his Jordan Fly Wade 2 XMas day kicks in the Heat’s blowout over the Mavericks.
Below (from l-r): KD rocked the Nike Zoom KD IV “Coppers” against the Magic, LeBron put on the XMas Day LeBron 9′s, Kobe laced up Nike Zoom Kobe VII “Cheetahs” in a loss against the Bulls, and Amare wore his special XMas colored Air Max Sweep Thrus.
All of the shoes are in stores now!
Los Angeles’ Drew League is producing highlight after highlight, week after week. Last week it was fellow Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant going off glass to himself and this week it’s James Harden throwing it up to JaVale McGee who crammed it on some sucker’s head. Is it just me or do you sense James Harden having a breakout year next season (if there is one)? I’m talking about him putting up respectable All-Star caliber numbers. Of course, that all relies on Russell “ballhog” Westbrook to pass it up every once in a while.
Dwyane Wade (via Taj Gibson), Brendan Haywood (via Kevin Durant), and Keith Bogans & Derrick Rose (via Udonis Haslem) are all victims of being put on a poster so far in this NBA Conference Championships. The dunkers aren’t playing around this year…who’s getting it next?
40 games in 40 nights! Let’s get it! It’s NBA Playoffs time – 2011 version. This photo was surfacing around the office inbox’s and I actually thought it was funny even as a Celtics fan myself. What’s even funnier though is that these Knicks’ fans think they can actually hang with the Celtics. New York doesn’t play a lick of defense so it’ll be an easy series in 5 games, maybe 6 if we’re playing sloppy.
Derrick Rose and the Bulls will breeze through the Pacers, same with the Heat and the 76ers. The Magic will see some resistance from the Hawks but they’ll be okay too. After that though, there’s no calling it. All four teams are talented and I haven’t been this excited to see how everything plays out. There’s no clear cut front runner and every team could make a run to the championship.
On the west side (*throws up Avon Barksdale W*), I’m kinda shocked that the Nuggets have managed to do so well with out Melo and Billups and even with so many injuries in the beginning of the year. To come out of the west though I’m going to roll with young Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to take their games to another level. Playoffs START NOW!
(8) Indiana Pacers (37-45) vs. (1) Chicago Bulls (62-20)
(7) Philadelphia 76ers (41-41) vs. (2) Miami Heat (58-24)
(6) New York Knicks (42-40) vs. (3) Boston Celtics (56-26)
(5) Atlanta Hawks (44-38) vs. (4) Orlando Magic (52-30)
(8) Memphis Grizzlies (46-36) vs. (1) San Antonio Spurs (61-21)
(7) New Orleans Hornets (46-36) vs. (2) Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)
(6) Portland Trailblazers (48-34) vs. (3) Dallas Mavericks (57-25)
(5) Denver Nuggets (50-32) vs. (4) Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
Poor Gary Neal of the San Antonio Spurs. The only time I ever hear his name or make a post on him is when he’s getting dunked on. J.R. Smith already gave him a Dunk of The Year candidate earlier this season and then last night Tyreke Evans gave him the business. Also getting his dunk on in Oklahoma City was none other than Blake Griffin who let Nick Collison know that he can’t hang in the air with young Blake.