Bill Simmons on trading Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul: “New Orleans says yes; Oklahoma City says no; Chris Paul probably says, “I loved my time in Oklahoma City, but I’d rather live in a big city, thanks anyway.” Besides, the Zombies can’t give up on the Westbrook/Durant partnership yet, even if there’s mounting evidence that Westbrook has real bitterness about becoming the public fall guy during last spring’s loss to Dallas. I continue to think we might be headed for an Avon/Stringer situation here … but both guys are so talented that you need one more year (and maybe a different coach) before you pick one over the other. (And by the way, the Zombies are picking Durant.)”
Chris Mannix talked with trainer Rob McClanaghan who works with Westbrook: “Polishing Westbrook’s pull-up jump shot was a point of emphasis this summer. Because Westbrook is so explosive in the open floor, it has been difficult for him over his first three seasons to knock down pull-ups in transition. Every day, McClanaghan ran Westbrook through pull-up drills. First, he would start at the opposite baseline. Then from ¾ court. Then from halfcourt. When Westbrook got to the foul line, he would stop on a dime, pull up and shoot … In addition to the pull-up, McClanaghan and Westbrook worked on a floater. While Westbrook is spectacular at finishing at the rim, he shot a career-low 26.6 percent from three-to-nine feet out, according to Hoopdata.com. Post moves were emphasized, too. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds Westbrook has superior size for his position. With McClanaghan, Westbrook worked on a variety of power moves and turnaround shots.”
Westbrook’s mechanics have dramatically improved. I wrote about that in June.
Darnell Mayberry on Westbrook’s progression: “The next step in Westbrook’s progression, in my opinion (and assuming he’s got these things down), is a better change of pace. But you can’t get everything down in one offseason, no matter how long it lasts?”
Berry Tramel has scheduling conflicts: “Jan. 2: The OSU-Stanford Fiesta Bowl. The Thunder plays at Dallas that night. Lots of channel flipping. If you want to DVR one game and watch it later, tape the football game. Fox Sports Oklahoma might not spoil the Fiesta Bowl for you. ESPN most definitely will spoil Thunder-Mavs for you.”
An ESPN panel talks about what teams could break through. And of note: Magic Johnson says Kevin Durant is the best player in the game.
Darnell Mayberry on Westbrook’s extension: “If you evaluated Westbrook over his first three seasons, examining him solely on his statistical production alongside other young elite guards like Paul, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, you’ll find that Westbrook’s first three seasons have been on par with the game’s best. These numbers, no doubt, will be used as a bargaining chip by Westbrook’s camp when negotiations begin in earnest.”
The NBA made some major rule changes. Ric Bucher of ESPN.com: “Rip-through” moves, in which an offensive player swings the ball into a defender’s outstretched arm and then attempts a shot once he has created contact, will be considered non-shooting fouls if the contact begins before the offensive player starts his shooting motion. Also, on drives to the basket, a shooting foul will be called only if contact occurs after the offensive player has begun his shooting motion, not after he has initiated his leap toward the basket.”
And Shane Battier signs with the Heat. So much for that.