One of the most accurate breakdowns of Russell Westbrook you’re going to read: “That’s an unusual path toward stardom, especially for a point guard. In theory, no position is more firmly rooted in established order. As floor generals, point guards typically execute their team’s offense with calm and discipline. There is an intrinsic leadership to the position that has seemingly predicated on structure. Some offenses may be less obvious (or more fluid) in their structuring than others, but it’s a point guard’s prerogative to regulate the players on the court to the specifics of a scheme. Westbrook still does that, but he does so in his own way. Nothing about Westbrook is typical. He routinely colors outside the positional lines, and redefines daily his unique vision of a point guard. His athleticism stands out even among his N.B.A. peers.”
Kevin Durant on the Kevin Calabro show doesn’t think Melo is getting dealt: “I think so, because with the dealing window, he would have been traded, I think a couple weeks ago, maybe even a month ago. So I think he’s gonna stay and you never know what’s going to happen in the summer, but just from watching what’s been happening this whole season, if he was going to get traded, he would have been traded a while back.”
Zach Lowe of SI likes Eric Maynor’s passing: “Maynor has some legit no-look ability, and he uses it well — particularly on pick-and-rolls. He’ll keep his eyes locked on the roll man, but if an opposing defender on the back line moves to help on the roll guy, Maynor will fire a pass to the other Thunder big man who has just come open — all while keeping his head turned toward the roll guy. That’s a useful no-look pass.”
Shaun Livingston is playing really well for the Bobcats. Good for him.
Stein’s power rankings: “Ringing up 30 isn’t as easy as we make it sound for Durant. He leads the league in 30-point games with 22 and he’d certainly get there more often if it were easy because the Thunder are a robust 18-4 when he cracks 30.”
Ben Golliver of CBS Sports says OKC is a pretender: “The issue all season has been defensive efficiency, a huge problem in the slow-it-down, grind-it-out, physical playoffs, when stops are at a huge premium and the shootouts stop after the first round. The Thunder’s solid frontcourt players – Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka – are guys that you like, want to love, but don’t totally trust when the money is on the line. More often than not during the playoffs, Thunder fans will be left hoping those guys play above their heads to keep a match-up even rather than forcing or exploiting a mismatch against the opposition. The good news: to make the jump to contender, the Thunder only need to get older.”
Brandon Hartsell of My Expiring Contract: “Where at one point, I thought the Thunder were on their way to dominate the league, to become the next dynasty like the Spurs were, I now think they are tragically flawed. Until the braintrust shows some balls, I’m resigning my expectations to the 53 win team that can’t get out of the semi-finals because they can’t defend the paint. It’s going to take Brooks to allow Harden to grow into the team’s 3rd scorer and an extra playmaker, for a team struggling to move the ball, that’s not a bad idea. And most importantly, he needs to cement Serge Ibaka as the full-time PF. It’s going to take Presti to cash in on his assets, and spring for a quality big man. The Thunder are too talented at the top to keep being dragged along by their conservative powers-that-be.”
Darnell Mayberry thinks Serge Ibaka will be starting next year. The real question there is though, is that because he has to be?