3 min read

Thursday Bolts – 12.22.16

Thursday Bolts – 12.22.16

Erik Horne: “While Westbrook is averaging 35.2 minutes per game, it’s not a far deviation


from his career average of 33.9 entering this season. Despite the Thunder playing in six sets of back-to-back games already, Westbrook is only averaging 34.8 minutes in those 12 games. It’s why Thunder coach Billy Donovan is OK with Westbrook’s league-leading usage percentage (41.1), or percentage of Thunder plays ending with a Westbrook free throw, field goal attempt or turnover. Along with the Thunder staff, Donovan relies on Catapult GPS data – which tracks everything from distance traveled to acceleration and deceleration force – to help determine player workloads in practice. While Donovan jokes that he has to be explained the scientific parts, it’s something he takes seriously. Donovan said through 28 games he’s thinking about cumulative effect, say over a two- to three-week span.”

Girl Nathan of Deadspin: “As of now, it seems that Westbrook is more likely to sign that extension this summer. Sources told Yahoo that Harden will probably pass on that option for now, and wait until he’s a little closer to his free agency in 2019, as he assesses the Rockets’ viability. He has that luxury since the discrepancy in contracts he’d be offered looks negligible next to his mammoth $200 million shoe deal.”

Brett Dawson: “The Thunder’s bench entered the game scoring 102.1 points per 100 possessions and allowing 106.6, both 19th in the NBA. Its 35 bench points per game ranked 15th in the NBA. But Oklahoma City built those middle-of-the-pack numbers mostly with Victor Oladipo as a starter. His absence – he missed his fifth straight game Wednesday with a sprained right wrist – has altered the Thunder’s rotations. In the previous four games with Oladipo sidelined, the Oklahoma City backups had scored slightly more (104.1 points per 100 possessions) but had allowed 117.3. On Wednesday, though, those backups were at their best. And the Thunder needed them to be.”

Erik Horne on the Pelicans game: “Can Westbrook do anything quietly? He joined Davis as the only two players with back-to-back 40-point games this season with 42 against New Orleans, but was largely overshadowed by how well the bench played. The free throw line will do that. Westbrook scored 16 of his points from the line on 18 attempts, two nights after have two fouls go uncalled in the final seconds against Atlanta.”

Bill Reiter of CBSSports.com on a Christmas gift for OKC: “Another superstar. Yes, it’s a long shot, but at the holidays you tell the truth, right? And the truth is as dynamic as Russell Westbrook has been this season, the good cheer won’t last long once the playoffs roll around without another star to play with him. GM Sam Presti needs to put someone dynamic under the tree for his triple-double machine.”

Russ is the king of the 40-10 game.

Justin Verrier of ESPN.com: “An active Holiday has made a major difference: New Orleans is 8-7 with the deliberately paced guard in the lineup and 2-13 without, and has the West’s ninth-best net rating since his return on Nov. 18. Yet the disparity also underscores the importance of surrounding Davis with elite-level talent, which the Pelicans have no obvious route to obtain outside of the draft lottery. Living life in the fast lane is fine, but at some point, the NBA amounts to one big horse race. The pace the Pelicans keep from here on out could determine whether the franchise can rise from a stretch of four out of five seasons as an also-ran, and, perhaps more important, how long their lone superstar will stay so calm, cool and collected.”