Friday Bolts – 3.13.09

thunderbolt2310Quite a Bedlam game last night. (Must….not….complain….about…. officiating….)

Russell Westbrook in this week’s SI: “While Westbrook sees himself as a point guard, Brooks still plays him off the ball at times. Defensively, Westbrook can handle both spots: His nearly 80-inch wingspan helps him pester two guards, and he has the lateral quickness to stay with ones. Brooks would like to see Westbrook, already a physical defender, cultivate an in-your-face style similar to that of the Hornets’ Chris Paul. “Paul will bump and bang with you,” Brooks says. “We want Russell to play like that.”

Another “what if the Blazers had drafted Durant?” story: “When I plug a straight Durant-for-Oden swap into the ESPN Trade Machine, it shows that the Blazers’ win total would increase by two while the Thunder’s wins would drop by five. Assuming those are for-the-rest-of-the-season numbers, that would equate to about nine additional Blazer wins over the course of the entire season. They’re projected to win 52 games at their current pace, but with Durant in the lineup that number would rise to 61. That would make the Blazers the fourth-best team in the NBA (behind the Cavs, Celtics and Lakers) and the second-best team in the West. And that’s without Bosh or Stoudemire.”

HoopsWorld on Russell Westbrook’s evolution: “A couple of months ago Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl had a twinkle in his eye when talking about some of the best rookies in this season’s draft class. And in typical Karl style, he took a position not many others were taking at the time. “I’m voting on (Russell) Westbrook,” said Karl. “His stride, his power and his courage to learn a new position. I think in March and April I’m going with Westbrook.” Turns out, Karl was on to something. While both Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo have been impressive, Westbrook has quietly been just as good. An underrated part of Westbrook’s success has been interim head coach Scott Brooks. During his time in the league as a player Brooks was a smart and crafty point guard who relied more on his basketball I.Q. than his physical skills.”

Some pretty high praise for Ricky Rubio: “With apologies and acknowledgment to Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill, any team in the situation described above that passes on Ricky Rubio, the savant/point guard from Spain, is making a staggering and majestic mistake. To overlook Rubio would be the sort of egregious error that costs NBA general managers their jobs, whereas signing him might win them a future championship. No other player available in this or next year’s NBA Draft has that kind of potential.”

KD could be back tomorrow: “Kevin Durant’s sprained right ankle is close to 100 percent, and the Thunder could have its leading scorer back in the lineup Saturday at Phoenix. Durant, who has missed the past seven games, is expected to practice Friday in Phoenix, his first practice since sustaining the injury on Feb. 27. If there is no pain or swelling in his foot Saturday morning he likely will return to the starting lineup against the Suns.”

Westbrook’s dunk on the Birdie: I still can’t figure out why the Birdman got all bent out of shape about it.

5ivemag on KD: “If Carlesimo was in his Seattle office late at night, he would often still hear dribbling in the practice gym. “The chances were pretty good that it was Kevin wanting to take a couple hundred extra shots,” joked the former coach. “You can’t teach that dedication. You can force a player to do something like that but they have to want it. He has the same enthusiasm that Magic Johnson did. Many of the greats had that love for the game.”

Bleacher Report on Thabo: “Should Thabo Sefolosha be included in the “Team of the Future” talks? Is he worthy of making the Triumvirate a “Fab Four”? I’m not alone in thinking that Sefolosha can be a permanent fixture in the Thunder lineup. It is undeniable that his presence has changed the face of Oklahoma City’s defense. Sefolosha’s point production is up from 4.5 to 11.6 PPG since his move from Chicago.”

 Sean Deveney has Russell second in his rookie of the year voting: “Coming on strong, not only in terms of numbers (15.8 points, 5.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds), but in terms of leadership. The Thunder have won five of seven.”

Dime power rankings: “Don’t count Russell Westbrook (15.8 ppg, 5.0 apg, 1.4 spg) out of the Rookie of the Year picture. He was Rookie of the Month in December and in February, and has thrived while Kevin Durant has been out.”

Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-13 13:06:44
I'm right there with you Crow. I've always wondered if we would pass on a guy like Rubio because we have RW. I hope we wouldn't. Even young guys who look like assist first guys, like TJ Ford or DJ Augustin (what is it with the longhorns...) could really come alongside and help out. If RW is to follow in DWade's footprints and be a combo guard, then a guy like Rubio would be great to come in and take over the dish-first duties.
Crow
2009-03-13 12:27:26
Kevin Durant; “Hopefully I can be more of a 4-3 than a 3-4 - more a guy who starts in the post and then later moves outside. I want to play like Kevin Garnett, who can use his long arms to control both ends of the court, blocking shots and getting into the passing lanes.” Right now it looks even. PF was more what he was on Texas on defense. Maybe more that way on offense too compared to how he has played in NBA.
Crow
2009-03-13 12:40:12
"Russell is never going to be a Mo Cheeks, set-'em-up-type point guard," says Brooks. "He's going to score and get others involved when he attacks the basket." Ok, that is a pretty big strategic choice then. Westbrook ranked last among point guards in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55), and only Dwyane Wade has more total turnovers. This leads some to wonder whether he can succeed at the position. "I don't see him as a one," says a Western Conference scout. "Scoring and athleticism are great, but you need to have more of a playmaker's mentality to be a point guard. I haven't seen that yet." Westbrook is and will be somewhere between these two descriptions but ultimately you have to guess right which will work with the rest of what you have and are doing. It is not about maxing Westbrook as a player. It should be about maxing a 5 man lineup and rotation. Which fits well- or best- when you have Thabo-Durant-Green-Krstic? Time will tell.