5 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 5.29.18

Scott Davis (Business Insider) on KD & Draymond wanting no part of a Thunder/Rockets WCF comparison: “The Rockets pushed the Warriors to the brink, but couldn’t close out the series in two opportunities, with the Warriors rallying from double-digit deficits in Games 6 and 7 to stay alive. After the game, TNT’s Ernie Johnson asked Draymond Green if the series against the Rockets was the hardest-fought series the Warriors have had during their run. Before Green could answer, Johnson brought up the 2016 Western Conference Finals, which saw the Oklahoma City Thunder take a 3-1 series lead over the Warriors, only for the Warriors to rally off three straights wins to advance. Green, however, did not want anything to do with the question.  “We don’t speak of the OKC game,” Green said before motioning to Kevin Durant and saying, “Our guy right here, so that don’t even matter.” On the side, Durant could be seen waving his hand, as if to say “next question.” Several Warriors players could be heard chuckling in the background as Johnson asked the question.”

Brett Dawson on Russell Westbrook’s ability to change after 10 NBA seasons: “Fair or not, this season always was going to turn into a referendum on what it’s like to play with Westbrook. If George opts to return to Oklahoma City, it’ll deal a blow to the narrative that other stars can’t coexist with him, that they don’t like playing with him. If George enters free agency and exits Oklahoma City, that drumbeat will grow louder. Westbrook is aware of that criticism. And though he insists he doesn’t care about it, it could be part of why he tried to adapt early and why he’s so open about wanting George to return, saying he thinks George “definitely wants to be here.” Already this summer social media posts have shown the two at a party and paintball, and Westbrook stressed after the season the importance of the bond he’s built with George. It’s not the kind of all-out, public recruitment fans have long wanted Westbrook to take on, but it’s a step.”

Manu Ginobili showed Russ some love:

Berry Tramel grades Russell Westbrook’s 2017-18 season: “Only 19.3 percent of Westbrook’s shots were 3-pointers, his lowest rate since 2011-12. That’s a major step for Westbrook considering the league tidal wave that induces everyone to fire off 3-pointers. Some of Westbrook’s 3-point misfires are caused by the shot clock – he was 9-of-41 on 3-pointers in the final four seconds of the clock. Even better, Westbrook’s contested shots go down by the year. According to nba.com, 12.4 percent of Westbrook’s shots this season came when he was tightly guarded (0-2 feet from a defender). The previous three years, those numbers were 15.6, 17.2 and 19.3 percent. Westbrook took 37.8 percent of his shots this season with a defender 2-4 feet away. Those numbers were 38.0, 38.5 and 43.0 percent the previous three years.”

Jonathan Wasserman (B/R) on why the Thunder cannot remain silent in the NBA Draft: “The Oklahoma City Thunder have been relatively cold in the draft. And assuming their goal is to re-sign Paul George, this team will have a lot of money committed to him, Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams, and that’s not including Carmelo Anthony for the 2018-19 season. The Thunder could use some young players to contribute on rookie deals. And right now, they don’t have a first-round pick. It may be difficult to acquire one unless they make Terrance Ferguson or Andre Roberson available, which seems unlikely. But with two picks in the 50s or cash considerations (the Golden State Warriors used that last year to get Jordan Bell at No. 38), the Thunder should be be aggressive in trying to land a top-40 pick.”

Nick Gallo on the growing force of Steven Adams: “When pressed about his personal growth and development, Adams won’t even deliver typical platitudes about hard work or natural gifts. He deflects those questions, dismisses his feats as nothing, and praises teammates and coaches for their part in the process. When he scores on difficult shots, he oftentimes says, “Oh, I’m just throwing it up there, mate” as if every made basket is pure luck. While confounding to reporters, that humble approach to himself and his game has made fitting into an American locker room quite the breeze. “The last thing you want is just a selfish bastard who is trying to take all of the credit for himself,” Adams sarcastically quipped with a grin. “It’s a team game. Regardless of how good you are, the team helped you, regardless of what you did.”

Adam Fromal (B/R) on the sharp decline of Carmelo Anthony: “Anthony can cry-laugh all he wants, but that became an argument during the 2017-18 campaign. While Korver continued to play underrated defense alongside LeBron James and provide a heavily respected gravitational pull, his new 33-year-old rival bought in to all of his worst tendencies for OKC. Rather than accept a role as a spot-up marksman and use his remaining energy to improve the other aspects of his game, the former New York Knick instead tried to commandeer possessions and play like he was still in his prime. Problem is, he’s no longer peak Anthony. He’s declined in each of the last couple of years, and this was the culmination of the dip, as he diminished the team’s floor and ceiling with his unwillingness to make concessions. So while he submitted a minus-1.353 season score, Korver was seemingly content with his more limited role and 1.777 season score (the second time in the last five years he’s had the superior mark, thanks to his All-Star effort in 2014-15). All together now: Points per game isn’t everything.”

Micah Wimmer (FanSided) on how we will remember Melo: “Occasionally, the old Melo returned, smoothly filling the lane and laying it in, facing up his defender and outmaneuvering them, but these occurrences were rare, the exception. More often, he looked confused, adrift, wondering why the ball is not coming his way more often and why the shots aren’t falling when it is. It all coalesced in the opening round playoff loss against the Jazz where Carmelo was an absolute liability. The Thunder were over 30 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the floor than when he was off the floor, per Basketball-Reference.com. He showed no inclination to switch on defense and his shots refused to fall, barely making one out of every five 3-pointers as his legs seemed to lack the lift necessary to shoot effectively. Fans of Anthony are left, on the one hand, to wish for his quick retirement so he does not embarrass himself further, while also hoping he returns so that this is not how he goes out.”

Ahiza Garcia (CNN Money) on the life of a sports agent: “Three agents from Wasserman, which represents over 1,700 athletes in over 50 sports, say it’s about forging personal relationships and always being available. “It sounds cliche but this is personal,” said Lindsay Kagawa Colas. “Our clients and our goals are central to the way we organize our lives. We don’t have weekends.” Wasserman agents represent athletes like the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees and WNBA player Diana Taurasi. They say the job involves negotiating contracts and securing the best deals for clients, but it’s so much more than that. Being a sports agent is essentially an on-call job that requires agents to sacrifice their personal time, travel extensively and fill whatever role is missing from an athlete’s life. It can mean taking care of a player’s every need.”

Around the League: The Warriors saved their dynasty in dispatching the Rockets in Game 7…. Eric Gordon believes Houston is in the NBA Finals if CP3 stayed healthy…. Inside the Rockets’ heartbreaking failure to launch…. Why Warriors/Cavs round four deserves appreciation…. Golden State is the overwhelming Vegas favorite to win the NBA title…. Marveling at LeBron James and his eight consecutive trips to the Finals…. Why it’s time to seriously have the MJ/LeBron debate…. The bright future for the Boston Celtics.