Thursday Bolts 4.23.09

Russell Westbrook finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting: He got two first place votes and finished with 73 thunderbolt2315points, right behind Brook Lopez. Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Lopez and Westbrook were the only four players to received first place voted. Eric Gordon finished fifth.

Darnell Mayberry on Westbrook’s finish: “While the final order for the award certainly can be debated, it’s Westbrook’s distant finish that comes as a bit of a shock considering his production rivaled or bested his competition over the second half of the season. Since February, Westbrook averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds. Over that same span, Rose averaged 16.9 points, 6.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds, while Mayo averaged 17.7 points, 3.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds. Lopez averaged 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 blocked shots.”

Kevin Love evidently not happy with the way the rookies finished: “Love said he had no quarrel with the selection of Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who won in a landslide with 574 points and 111 of the 120 first-place votes. He just didn’t feel there were five first-year players who played better than him during a season in which Love led all rookies in rebounding (9.1 per game) and double-doubles (29). “Pardon my French, but it’s the second time I’ve gotten screwed,” he said from Los Angeles. “I definitely thought I would finish higher, but after the rookie-sophomore snub, I guess anything can happen.” Love admittedly got off to a slow start this season, but he got better as it went on, averaging 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds in March, when he was named NBA rookie of the month. That strong finish earned him just two second-place votes and 10 thirds in media balloting for a total of 16 points. “I guess I just needed to play a little better,” Love said. “Maybe a 30th double-double would have made a difference.”

Some excellent statistical analysis by Draft Express on this year’s power forward crop: “Thanks to our friends over at Synergy Sports Technology, we have access to the most thorough situational statistics available today. Synergy keeps track of every possession of a huge amount of college basketball games-thus accumulating an incredible wealth of extremely informative data. Many of these statistics offer excellent insight into the players we evaluate, so we’ve taken the time to compile and sort through them in an effort to distinguish which players are, for instance, the most productive back to the basket threats, the most effective finishers around the basket, the most likely to draw fouls on a given possession, and the most efficient jump shooters. With 24 of the top power forwards tabulated on our spreadsheet, we’ve created a short list of the most interesting things we’ve learned about this year’s crop of prospects.”

HoopsWorld looks at next year’s MVP race and has KD in the mix: “The Thunder are set up for a big jump in their win total next year, which is always a gold star on any MVP candidate’s résumé. They have a terrific, emerging core consisting of Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, and their superstar, Kevin Durant. They also have a bevy of picks in June’s draft, which with some luck, could net them prized big man Blake Griffin of Oklahoma. A starting five of Westbrook, Green, Durant, Collison, and Griffin – no matter how inexperienced – would win games. And the Thunder’s potential generates from primarily from Durant’s growth and development. He is still ridiculously young and, as impressive as his numbers have been, he has not yet even scratched his ceiling.” Can I just say that starting five is weird. Green at the two? I think if OKC landed Blake it would be Westbrook, Thabo, Durant, Green and Griffin.

Berry Tramel speculates on if Blake had gone pro last year: “Blake Griffin thought about going pro a year ago. If he had, would Griffin have worn Thunder blue this past season? Makes sense … Think how that would have changed the dynamics of the Thunder’s first season in OKC and the upcoming draft. No Russell Westbrook, which means Earl Watson likely would have run the show, and in this draft the Boomers would be searching for Ricky Rubio or someone to be their point guard of the future instead of praying for the lottery ball that has Griffin’s name on it.”

Handing out fantasy awards: “Breakout player – Kevin Durant: De-valued at the start of the season due to a disappointing (by fantasy standards) rookie campaign, Durant didn’t just exceed our expectations; he demolished them. He finished the season averaging 25.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers, which would have been enough by itself, but he also shot a brilliant 47.6 percent from the floor and 86.3 percent from the line. To think that he’s still only 20 years old is flat-out scary, especially when you consider that he will dedicate his offseason to improving his strength and adding muscle (which is about the only flaw in his game right now). He’s already looking like a top-10 pick in fantasy drafts next season, but if he comes in with 10-20 pounds of muscle, we might want to start thinking about putting him in the top five, as any added strength will make him nearly impossible to stop on the offensive end and will undoubtedly improve his rebounding numbers.”

Jeremy Tyler, the first player to ever leave high school early for the pros: “We’ve reached the point in American sports where a player leaving college early to turn pro is routine. But Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-11 basketball player from San Diego, is doing something unprecedented: He’s leaving high school early to turn pro. Tyler, considered the best high school big man in the country, had originally committed to enroll at Louisville. But he now tells the New York Times that he’ll drop out of high school and play pro ball in Europe, most likely for a team in Spain. Tyler told the Times that he’s making the move because he’s too focused on getting better at basketball to spend time hitting the books, adding that “people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better.” Yeah, I have a feeling his career is going to end well.

Shoals looking at the impact of a playmaking point guard and the potential big/small debate: “But with Ricky Rubio throwing his name into the hat for this summer’s draft, we finally are presented with a real small/big dilemma. Blake Griffin is big, athletic, fairly skilled, and automatic; Rubio is mercurial, Pistol-like as a descriptive quality, and a natural-made trickster with an offense. Griffin-stable, staunch, and unromantic-is exactly the kind of foundation proposed by the visual metaphor of the “Z”. The connotations will bury you, so don’t spend too much time there: Anchoring the frontcourt, providing insurance through boards, dunks, and interior defense, you build a team around a known quantity that, for lack of a non-slang term, holds it down at both ends. Indisputably. Today’s point guard, though, isn’t drafted to provide a foundation (as the “Z” would suggest), but a non-stop spark. They’re playmakers, here to furnish the unexpected without betraying our trust, following their muse as responsibly as possible while taking the team with them. They are, in short, anti-foundational, always reaching upward and looking for that new angle or opportunity. That involves running an offense and controlling the ball, but its stability is exactly that assurance of ambitious play-making that sweeps up the rest of the team with it.”

Tyson Chandler says his ankle won’t be better at all this season: “After the game Chandler pulled no punches, telling your friendly neighborhood columnist: “I’m not as agile, quick or explosive as I normally am. Defensively I’m not able to move the way I would like to move or even challenge shots. It takes some things away, but it’s not going to get better this season.” The last part of what Chandler said is perhaps the most important and most disturbing. “It’s not going to get better this season.” Hmmmmmm…..

Oh and I got this interesting email yesterday: “Daily Thunder, Oklahoma City needs our help! From the website….. The hottest band in the world, KISS, will tour this fall, and they want YOU, the KISS ARMY to choose which cities they’ll play! In the first-ever fan-routed tour, KISS will take votes straight from the KISS ARMY! The entire 2009 tour will be determined by the cities with the most votes. Watch the tour unfold in real time as voting continues and city rankings are updated! Can you post this on the website? We need votes for OKC!!” So if you want to see KISS in OKC, go to www.kissonline.com and vote. I can assure you I won’t be, but if that’s your thing, go crazy.

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