Tuesday Bolts – 3.3.09

Russell Westbrook wins second rookie of the month honor: “Westbrook ranked first among rookies in scoring for the thunderbolt231month (20.6 ppg), second in assists (5.9 apg), fifth in rebounds (6.1 rpg) and fourth in double-doubles (2). In addition, Westbrook scored 20 or more points six times and 30 or more points three times. On Feb. 1, Westbrook had a career-high 34 points at Sacramento including a career-high 20 free throws made and on Feb. 21, had a career-high 13 field goals at Golden State.”

Remember that whole Ricky Rubio is likely to enter the draft this year? Yeah, nevermind: “[Coby] Karl, who shares the same agent as Rubio, told his dad that Rubio likely won’t enter the NBA draft until 2010, and Pau Gasol, the Spanish legend and Lakers center, concurred (multiple mock drafts have Rubio in the top two for 2010).”

Marc Stein breaks down the second trimester award winners: “Most Improved, Kevin Durant: He won’t win this award. He won’t (and shouldn’t) even be eligible for this award at season’s end. But no one in the NBA has improved during the past 27 (or so) games more than Durant. The reigning ROY has averaged 33.1 points per game in February alone, along with 6.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists, entering Friday’s visit to Dallas. He’s flourishing in his move to small forward under new coach Scotty Brooks for a team that was very respectable in its first 20-ish games of 2009 before some recent slippage.”

ESPN’s latest power rankings: “What does Durant’s ankle injury have in common with the voided trade for Chandler? Every disappointment in OKC is spun like this: At least it won’t hurt the Thunder’s chances of winning the Blake Griffin lottery.”

John Krolik of SLAM asks if Kevin Durant is the “anti-Battier.” A very interesting read: “Statistically, he’s showing all the makings of being one of the best scorers in NBA history. He’s averaging 26 ppg on a fantastic 59 percent True Shooting Percentage, which is actually better than, believe it or not, LeBron and Kobe’s career high in scoring efficiency. He appears destined to be not just a great shot-creator but one of the budding great scorers to ever pick up a basketball, and his rebounding and passing are even coming around. When the Thunder came to town, I made sure not to miss the chance to see Kevin Durant live. But then why is his +/- an abysmal -6.4 on one of the worst teams in the entire league? Can a player as obviously good as Durant be secretly bad? (If you’re wondering if any other team’s best player has a negative +/-, the answer is no, unless you count Derrick Rose.) The issue here is Durant’s defense–he makes the Thunder 2.7 points per 100 possessions better offensively, but Durant costs the Thunder a whopping 9.1 points per 100 possessions on defense. This is consistent with last year, when +/- found him to be the worst defender in the League.”

Russell Westbrook is in good company: “Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in Oklahoma City’s win over Dallas, becoming the first NBA rookie to earn a triple-double since Chris Paul had two in the 2005-06 season. Only two other rookies in Oklahoma City/Seattle franchise history had triple-doubles: Art Harris in 1968-69 and Gary Payton in 1990-91.”

Yeah, kind of what we thought about how Dallas would react to losing this one:  “The toughest question to ask after the disgusting performance the Mavericks put on Monday night was whether they really deserve a spot in the NBA playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki had the most honest answer. “Not really, not if we keep playing like this,” he said. “We don’t deserve it.”

And more: “Kevin Durant didn’t play. Jeff Green didn’t play. Nenad Krstic has somehow wandered his way back into the NBA and scored 26 points. A person named Kyle Weaver hit a late 3. The Thunder got itself a 23-point lead. And OKC’s now-record of 15-45 means OKC stinks. Period. With a starting five that averages 42 points per game, this Thunder squad was a D-League team. And the Mavs played like an E-League team.” 

According to RealGM, the Thunder made a play for Krytpo-Nate: “There were rumors around the trading deadline last month that the Kings made the Knicks an offer for Nate Robinson, but other teams reportedly made a play for the guard as well. The Lakers and Thunder also called the Knicks about Robinson, according to league sources.”

No specific timetable on KD, but he’s getting better and might return this weekend: “Wearing his recently released orange Nike shoes, Kevin Durant walked into the Ford Center on Monday night without crutches, with only a slight limp. That’s a vast improvement from when Durant used crutches and wore a protective boot last weekend in Dallas and Memphis.”

Tom Ziller of FanHouse: “Whether Rajon Rondo is the next Jason Kidd “without the passing” has been debated. But can we include Russell Westbrook in this meaningless, circular, possibly ridiculous debate? Westbrook had 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in a Durant-less WIN over Dallas. Yes, the Thunder beat a supposed playoff team without Kevin Durant. Scotty Brooks, what has gotten into you? Big Nenad Krstic dominated with 26 points. Kidd himself had only 9/5/5 with six steals. Jason Terry’s back (20 points off the bench, like a Swiss timepiece), but so is the real Antoine Wright.”

Hardwood Paroxysm was shocked by last night’s Malik Rose sighting: “The man, whose name is voluntarily joined by the words “salary” and “contract” in the first two entries on my Google search bar, finally showed his true colors. Yes, those colors are the road cone orange and electric blue of the OKC Thunder last night. Oh, this is not a joke – Malik Rose was forced got some to play last night… and he scored 7 POINTS! Malik has only scored 10 points since THANKSGIVING. That is not a typo. The sadist in me continues to wish that Durant and Green sit out with injuries so we can get more of this wonderment. The human in me wishes we could just get back to normal. Kept that purty smile on the sidelines, Malik. We don’t want you in there battling for boards – putting those pearly whites in harm’s way.”

Oh, also something I want to point out is that since Tyson Chandler returned, the Hornets are 5-0 and he’s averaging 11.0 ppg and 11.4 rpg. Just sayin’.

Keith
2009-03-03 10:57:29
It's sad that Durant is not yet a better defender, but I think we can all agree that he has the MJ/Kobe/Lebron genes that will demand him to get better in order to win. Hopefully those kick in soon and we see not just a scoring, rebounding machine, but also a shot swatter coming in with ridiculously long arms and an unparalleled sense of timing. Though, admittedly, one of the flaws of the +/- metric is that good players on bad teams play a ton of minutes. The Thunder as a team are -6 on the season. Durant's +/-, not so surprisingly, is right around that number. If you want to get technical, there's a strong correlation between mpg game on the Thunder and negative +/- stat. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a poor defender, but certainly not worst in the league or worse defender than how good he on offense. I have a feeling that playing closer to .500 or better ball next year will have his +/- looking very different.
jk
2009-03-03 12:42:28
Read Henry Abbott's blogpost today about the older the player usually means the better the defender. Hopefully this applies to all three of our young trio. I think it will. Plus, I think Durant is going to want to show that he's a top-5 player in the leauge next year.
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-03 15:20:05
Sports Illustrated moved RW up to #1 on their Rookie Rankings today. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/bryan_armen_graham/03/03/rookie.rankings/index.html
Royce
2009-03-03 15:23:39
Nice! About time others start catching on.
Chas
2009-03-03 16:31:47
I also think that when Durant and Green aren't playing 40+ minutes, they can devote more energy to defending. And after such a great performance from our reserves, I can't see how we could afford to keep them on the bench all the time. This has been such a great thing for the Thunder.