3 min read

Monday Bolts – 11.7.16

Monday Bolts – 11.7.16

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel: “Through absolutely no doing of his own, Dion Waiters


found himself caught in the middle of the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook contretemps that long preceded Thursday’s nationally televised matchup between the friendly-to-feuding former teammates. It is why Waiters finds himself as a visitor this weekend, as the Miami Heat prepare for Monday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Had Durant remained in place in free agency, Waiters likely would have found himself suiting up for the home team Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Instead, with Durant off to the Golden State Warriors, Waiters was deemed expendable in July, his salary-cap hold utilized to lock Westbrook into a long-term extension with the Thunder.”

Erik Horne: “Dion Waiters rocked back on his heels for a moment before accelerating past Draymond Green. As Stephen Curry slid over to contest in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, Waiters easily rose up past him for a two-handed dunk. When Waiters landed, he pushed both arms skyward as the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd exploded. The 28-point demolition of Golden State was Waiters’ apex — maybe the Thunder’s — during a postseason rebirth for the polarizing guard. His performance surely was leading to a lucrative contract, be it from OKC or another NBA franchise. Two months later, Waiters stood on a balcony overlooking South Beach with only a 1-year, $2.9 million deal from Miami.”

Brett Dawson: “It turns out Russell Westbrook can do even more. Six games into the season, Westbrook is using more of the Thunder’s offensive possessions — and doing so more efficiently — than he ever has for a full season. Westbrook is using 42.4 percent of Oklahoma City’s possessions, according to basketball-reference.com. That usage rate reflects what percentage of plays Westbrook is involved in that end with a field-goal attempt, a free-throw attempt or a turnover. It’s only a six-game sample size, but that number is well above Westbrook’s 31.3 percent usage rate last season.”

Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com on grit: “In 2014, Deadspin parsed online NFL draft scouting reports, allowing readers to look up how frequently different terms were applied to white and black prospects. “Grit” or “gritty” appears nearly twice as frequently in scouting reports for white players (1.9 times per 10,000 words) as black players (1.1 per 10,000). In the NBA, there may not always be the same element of racial coding. After all, African-American Tony Allen coined the “grit ‘n’ grind” moniker that has come to define the Grizzlies’ run of contention in the Western Conference, as well as their relationship with a diverse Memphis fan base. Still, even “grit ‘n’ grind” reinforces the notion that grit is the domain of less-talented athletes.”

Vote for Pop.

Jeremy Woo of SI.com has OKC sixth: “When it comes to investing in talent and reaping the benefits, Oklahoma City obviously comes from a different place—a world with Durant AND Westbrook, to make specialists like Andre Roberson viable and split the night-to-night workload in a deathly effective path. The rub here is the risk, even when you get everything right. The Thunder of old (include James Harden, sure) may well be the model for small-market teams around the league, but even the best of draft luck can spiral into adversity. Sam Presti did his best to make adjustments, and Westbrook will make games a sight to see, but it’s already clear, even at 5–1, he’s still going to need more help.”