Wednesday Bolts – 4.5.17

Berry Tramel: “Kidd still was playing high-level point guard six springs ago, when his Mavericks battled the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Kidd, then 38, against the Thunder’s unbridled thoroughbred, Westbrook at 22. Both have come a long way since that May. Kidd went on to win the championship with those Mavs, retired after two more seasons and now is in his fourth season as an NBA head coach. Westbrook went on to, well, you know what Westbrook has been up to.”

Micah Peters of The Ringer: “I’m not sure who said that but I’m pretty sure it was either Thomas Jefferson or T.I. on a song from one of many post-jail albums that were not as good as King, and I’m leaning toward the latter. Does that make perfect sense in this context? Probably not. Look, everyone here is improving their team. But we’re arguing between someone who’s admittedly putting up the most clean-burning offensive numbers (Harden), and another who’s leading the league in scoring, pulling a worse supporting cast into the playoffs, and literally rewriting history as he goes along. So it almost does. And you understood what I was trying to say, so stop being difficult.”

My story from last night.

Erik Horne: “The buzzer sounded, and Russell Westbrook slowly walked out in front of the Thunder bench to a roar of “MVP, MVP, MVP” from the crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It didn’t take long for the mob of teammates to attack. In the Thunder’s 110-79 blowout of Milwaukee on Tuesday, Westbrook play was his norm with an additional stamp of history. With 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists, he tied Oscar Robertson’s single-season record for triple-doubles with his 41st of the season. What was extraordinary: His humility after the shower of cheers, his emotion in a season in which he hasn’t gone into deep dive conversations about breaking history nightly.”

I also wrote a news story with lots of quotes from people.

Per ESPN Stats: “Just four degrees of separation exist between Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson. Russell Westbrook played against Kobe Bryant, most recently on April 11, 2016. Kobe Bryant played against Robert Parish, most recently on February 5, 1997. Robert Parish played against John Havlicek, most recently on February 14, 1978. And John Havlicek played against Oscar Robertson, most recently on May 12, 1974.”

Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “We don’t know whether Russell Westbrook will be the 2017 NBA MVP, but he’s going to average a triple-double for the year, which is something few thought would ever happen again. Over the past decade, Westbrook has helped bring the novelty stat back into vogue. Beyond the triple-double pursuit, Westbrook has been part of the centerpiece storyline for the season. After Kevin Durant left the Thunder as a free agent in the summer and Westbrook extended his contract while remaining conspicuously silent, we knew he’d be the player to watch. He exceeded even the highest expectations set for him. He has been as entertaining and awe-striking as any player in memory. (That’s why he’s my MVP pick.) But beneath the numbers and beyond the highlights, there’s also something inspirational about Westbrook’s whole personality and attitude. It can be summed up in his personal motto: Why not?”

This chart sure is something.

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com: “Elam, a Mensa member, has devoted most of his spare time since 2004 to solving the slog of NBA crunch time. Oklahoma City’s win was remarkable to Elam because the Thunder’s deliberate fouling worked. Elam has tracked thousands of NBA, college, and international games over the last four years and found basketball’s classic comeback tactic — intentional fouling — almost never results in successful comebacks. Elam found at least one deliberate crunch-time foul from trailing teams in 397 of 877 nationally televised NBA games from 2014 through the middle of this season, according to a PowerPoint presentation he has sent across the basketball world. The trailing team won zero of those games, according to Elam’s data. That undersells the effectiveness of the strategy, of course. Elam’s sample doesn’t include most NBA games. There were a lot of instances in which fouling teams came from behind to tie games, but lost later.”

Micah Adams of ESPN.com looking back at OKC’s trade: “Short of that, the biggest culprit is on the glass — specifically the defensive glass, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, because he’s now teammates with Russell Westbrook, who gobbles up far more defensive than offensive rebounds. Gibson’s offensive-rebound rate in OKC (9.0) is actually better than it was in Chicago (8.6), and his defensive-rebound rate has plummeted from 19.2 all the way to 13.8. As was the case with Gibson, McDermott’s reduced role has mostly contributed to his drop in game score. Though he’s shooting at almost an identical clip from downtown, McDermott’s box score stats per 36 minutes are down across the board. Game score isn’t the only metric he has suffered in either. He’s down to a player efficiency rating (PER) of 9.3 in OKC compared with 11.3 in Chicago.”

Author