Kevin Pelton for ESPN Insider on NOLA trading CP3 for Westbrook : “In front of a TV audience that had seen relatively little of Oklahoma City throughout the season, Westbrook was the scapegoat for the Thunder’s inability to construct an effective late-game offense. Westbrook deserved some of the blame; he lacks the kind of court vision to find teammates when they slip open for a split second, which is part of what makes Paul so special. Westbrook also has a tendency to overdribble when the play breaks down, trusting his own ability more than that of his teammates. Still, Westbrook can only run the plays called from the sideline, and Oklahoma City’s half-court playbook is limited. When defenses took Kevin Durant away with physical defense, Westbrook creating on the fly was often the only alternative. Additionally, the Thunder were victims of their own success. Oklahoma City’s problems were only revealed because the Thunder made an impressive run to the Western Conference finals — further in the postseason than Paul, for one, has ever advanced.”
Rob Mahoney of PBT with thoughts on it: “There’s nothing wrong with wanting Westbrook to be the best player he can possibly be, but turning each of his faults into a crusade against his game is foolish. He does, as Pelton notes, lack the court vision of players like Paul. He’s not an elite playmaker, even though his physical gifts enable him to create dribble penetration in ways few other players can. His decision making, too, isn’t perfect, and neither is his jumper. Yet all of these are detractions from the whole of Westbrook’s game rather than the other way around; he’s a player who pushed his team to the Conference Finals, not one who cost them a trip to take a step further. He did what he could under the circumstances, and though Westbrook’s playoff showing wasn’t without its own faults, it’s unfair that only he — and not Durant, or Scott Brooks, or any other member of the Thunder — should be defined by them.”
The trade Westbrook stuff isn’t new. Here are some of my thoughts on it from a couple months ago. More coming today, maybe.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com continuing on with the top 100 players where Ibaka checks in 63rd: “Oh, Iblocka. One of the most divisive players in the league. Everyone loves his energy. Some people trust his jumper. Some people think he’s impetuous and gets caught with his head spinning. Ibaka is going to improve and will be a force to reckon with. But for all his defensive stewardship, the Memphis series exposed that a crafty offensive post player can put him into a tizzy, while his offensive reportoire still needs work. Ibaka had one of the lowest variances in scores in the back half of our list. We all know he’s pretty good, we just know he’s not top fifty. Not yet.”
KD changed his Twitter picture to show off his tats. He ain’t hiding anything people.
Terrific find by Zach Harper of DDL — Thunder assistant Mark Bryant’s excellent old team picture.
Reggie Jackson is figuring out how to get by in the lockout: “While most veteran players aren’t receiving paychecks, they at least have—or should have—some money saved. However, Jackson, the 24th player taken in the draft, has yet to receive his first pro check at all. Instead of signing his rookie contract last month, Jackson was forced to take out a loan. He tells the Oklahoman that it’s a small amount that only keeps him afloat. “I’m trying to pay back as little as I can and just get through the times right now,” Jackson said.”
Berry Tramel says the NBA might be better off starting late: “Maybe you’d have to go with an earlier calendar in certain Olympic years. Maybe franchises would like the conflict; sort of an excuse to keep stars from playing all year long. Either way, the later calendar start is the way to go for the NBA. Starting with this coming season, should a late settlement arrive and prove Billy Hunter wrong.”
Remember: Mailbag this week. Email me if you’ve got something (dailythunder at gmail dot com)