Chris Palmer of ESPN.com on who runs the floor best: “Westbrook is a one-man fastbreak, often zigzagging in traffic with the ball as fast as most players can move in a straight line without it. His athleticism is such that he can turn nearly every defensive rebound, steal and even made basket into a fastbreak opportunity. Because the he advances the ball so quickly, the defense is rarely in a position to slow him down. Few guards can control a game’s tempo by pushing and finishing so frequently the way Westbrook does. But maybe his most effective weapon is stopping at the foul line and rising up for a picture-perfect pull-up. Since the defense has to protect the rim, he can release the shot nearly uncontested every time. With better shot selection he could top this list. How to stop him: Frustrate him into forcing the action. Making him use his athleticism against him by trying to create transition opportunities where there are none has been effective in getting him to commit offensive fouls. He believes so thoroughly in his athleticism that he rarely gives it up on the break.”
For some reason, Skip Bayless summarized his hot sports take about Russell Westbrook in a column:
“Durant? He WANTS “Russ” to be Kobe Westbrook. Durant has developed a LeBron Complex, sounding like he wants to BE his best buddy LeBron as well as beat him. Durant now seems obsessed with doing all the little things — the all-around things — while leaving the big things (shot attempts) mostly to Westbrook. Advantage, “point guard.” Still, I believe I hit a nerve in Durant last year, one that stays raw. I believe that deep down, Durant knows I’m right: Westbrook ultimately will prove to be more burden than benefit. I found it interesting — maybe even telling — that after Durant criticized me last year, his mother readily agreed to join us on a show we did in Oklahoma City before Game 2 of the Finals. On air, she thanked me for always supporting her son. Mother knew best?”
Derek Fisher on his shooting slump: “It’s just kind of part of the game in terms of the ups and downs of a season. I’m obviously adjusting to a shorter role than I’m accustomed to playing overtime and over the years. So playing 12, 13 minutes a game, you have to really be ready to go right at it in terms of playing the game. But when I go in the game I’m not thinking just offense. Sometimes a shot shows up and you make it or you miss it. But as long as you’re taking good shots at the basket I’m not worried about it, my teammates aren’t worried about it and I’ll keep taking those. I don’t know many teams that will just leave me open as time goes on.”
Jonathan Tjarks of SB Nation on Michael Carter-Williams: “The lack of outside shooting on Syracuse’s roster does not maximize his strengths, so Carter-Williams has flown somewhat under the radar for most of the season. But when he’s creating space for himself by knocking down shots, the Orange are extremely tough to beat. If he was a 35-40 percent three-point shooter, he would be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick. Instead, like Damian Lillard, he could make a backdoor run at the Rookie of the Year award if he lands in the right spot in the lottery. He’s the best player Boeheim has had in a decade; there will be a lot of NBA teams watching to see if he can keep up his hot shooting in the next few rounds.”
An evolution of KD’s personality. Weird.
Darnell Mayberry on the focus for the last 10 games: “This one might be a bit blurred. In this case, it’s not about statistics or winning streaks. The Thunder has long had the stated goal of maintaining a standard of performance night in and night out, no matter the opponent, whether at home or on the road. It’s an unwavering style that the Thunder wants to become its identity. Achieving that goal has been a struggle at times this season. But there will be plenty of chances down the stretch to display the proper focus. Five of the final 10 are against teams below .500.”