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Thursday Bolts – 3.2.17

Thursday Bolts – 3.2.17

Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight: “Regardless of why Westbrook is favoring his left, the

spike is noteworthy. It’s a statement that Westbrook has come a far way from how he played when he was young. He favored going to his right as a freshman at UCLA, and for good reason: Westbrook was in college basketball’s 98th percentile on right-sided isolation efficiency but in the bottom 1 percent when isolating left, according to Synergy. As a rookie in the NBA, he went right 60 percent of the time. But each season since, Westbrook has played to his left more. Normally a player would be forced to address an imbalance as extreme as Westbrook’s to keep opponents on their toes. Between intricate film breakdowns and advanced numbers, defenders in today’s NBA have more weapons at their disposal than ever before. But given how well Westbrook has fared in one-on-one situations this season, there may not be a reason for him to change much.”

Erin Rynning for ESPN on Vegas Power Rankings: “The impressive play of triple-double machine Russell Westbrook has been equaled by strong ATS performances by Oklahoma City. The Thunder are tied for third in the ATS standings at 34-25-1. With some minor reinforcements at the trade deadline, the Thunder will continue to fly under the point-spread radar.”

Russ and Nina are expecting their first child in May.

Brett Dawson on Taj Gibson’s fear of flying: “During his rookie season in Chicago, Gibson said, the Bulls flew to Atlanta in a thunderstorm that resulted in turbulence so severe that “even the staff and the pilots didn’t think we were gonna make it.” Occasionally Gibson sleeps on a plane, but in Chicago he found it challenging because teammates gave him so much grief about his fear of flying. Not that he minds the ribbing.”

Erik Horne: “In clutch games since Jan. 6, Westbrook is No. 2 in the league in true shooting percentage (83.5), which accounts for field goals, 3-pointers and free throws made. He’s a few tenths behind Washington’s Marcin Gortat (84.2), but considering Westbrook’s usage percentage (possessions used by a player while in the game) is nearly five times that of Gortat’s – 56.0 compared to 10.3 – Westbrook has been the most efficient late-game weapon in the NBA the last two months.”

Talking on the TrueHoop pod.

Interesting from Scott Davis of Yahoo: “To earn the extension, players have to be named to an All-NBA team, MVP, or Defensive Player of the Year the year before. This is where George is on shaky ground. To date, Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler have all had better seasons than George. With two forward spots on each of the three All-NBA teams, George would be out of the running and, thus, wouldn’t qualify for the DPE. However, if voters decide Durant hasn’t played enough games to earn an All-NBA spot, and if George were to finish the season on a hot streak, that could change things. Of course, George would have competition from other players, such as Utah’s Gordon Hayward, but being eligible for the DPE could be a huge leg-up for the Pacers.”