Thursday Bolts: 9.7.17

DJ Khaled, Victor Cruz, and more were interviewed for Russell Westbrook’s fashion book: “In the book, the player and other notable figures, including DJ Khaled and Victor Cruz, speak at length about Westbrook’s foray into the fashion industry, discussing what it was like to create a capsule collection with Barney’s New York, a collaboration with the Jordan brand and even a charity-centric collection with King & Jaxs to raise money for his Why Not? Foundation.”

B/R has Hall of Fame chances for the top 15 NBA Players (and didn’t list Paul George): “Russell Westbrook: From a purely statistical standpoint, this uber-athletic floor general is already in the right ballpark. Basketball-Reference.com’s Hall of Fame probability lists him 11th among active players and 68th on the historical leaderboard, and another stat is even more promising. NBA Math’s total points added (TPA) metric shows that Westbrook has accumulated more value in his career than all but 22 players since 1973-74, leaving him sandwiched directly between Paul Pierce and Reggie Miller. Prediction: Could retire now as a lock.”

Scott Rafferty on if Russ can become an off-ball threat alongside Paul George: “For the Thunder to reach their full potential, though, Westbrook will have to make some sacrifices following a season in which he had free rein offensively. Although over half of George’s baskets last season were assisted, he’s one of the league’s best at scoring in the pick-and-roll (92.3 percentile) and isolation (72.5 percentile). He isn’t necessarily good enough in those situations to carry a team offensively all by himself like Westbrook and Durant are, but he is good enough to warrant the sort of touches that will force Westbrook to become more of an off-ball presence.”

Dakari Johnson had an eventful community appearance yesterday: “One kid asked him if he was 49 years old. Another asked if Johnson knew why Kevin Durant left the Thunder. As the chatter grew, Johnson stayed cool and directed the kids back to the book. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Johnson. The air conditioning in the Capitol Hill library wasn’t working.”

Melissa Rohlin (San Antonio Express) on how Andre Roberson’s defense makes him a star: “Andre has established himself as a defensive specialist. He is in the 82nd percentile in post defense, holding his opponent to just 36.1 percent shooting down low. And the Thunder allow 5.4 fewer points per 100 possessions when he is on the court. Roberson even ranked higher than two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard last season in terms of defensive value added in relation to different defensive play categories, according to NBAMath.com.”

Andrew Sharp & Ben Golliver (SI) on the NBA’s tampering issue: “Paul George was traded to the Thunder in one of the biggest moves of the NBA offseason—but there’s been much more talk this summer about the former Pacers star regarding a different team. The Lakers were hit with a $500K tampering fine by the NBA last week after Magic Johnson openly discussed George coming to L.A. on Jimmy Kimmel Live back in April. George has stated he’s focused on playing for Oklahoma City this season, but that hasn’t helped quiet the buzz around the league that George will join the Lakers once he becomes a free agent.”

Rohan Nadkarni (SI) on the far-ranging implications of the Rockets sale: “The salary cap is almost definitely never going away. Too many small market teams would cry foul, and the league already has some competitive balance issues in a post-Durant-on-the-Warriors world. But when the players’ association has a chance to opt out of the current CBA in 2022, there could (and should!) be a fight over the split of basketball-related income. BRI was a big issue during the 2011 lockout. Back then, players received 57% of BRI, which helped set the salary cap figure, while owners received the remaining 43%…. But players are savvier now more than ever, and if their skills are intrinsically tied to the value of NBA franchises, shouldn’t they in some way be capitalizing on skyrocketing franchise values as well?”

Isaiah Thomas got his Players Tribune article very right: “And then somewhere in there, it was just like … it was barely anything. This little pause in the conversation. And that’s when he told me. “I just traded you.” Simple as that. No big words, no big speech. Though I guess when it comes to shit like that, there’s not much more to say. “To where.” That’s all I could manage. “To the Cavaliers, for Kyrie.” And that’s when, like — man. You ever been on the phone, and someone says something … and then all of a sudden, all you can think about after is, I don’t want to be on the phone anymore? Not even in a rude way. Just, like, your willpower to have a conversation shuts down. That’s what it was like for me in that moment.”