– Russell Westbrook cannot be stopped (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
” The lazy will still look at Westbrook’s shooting totals…and see selfishness where they should find necessity. Oklahoma City’s roster wasn’t engineered to take the ball out of its stars hands. It was assembled and oriented as to play off of what Westbrook and Durant do best. With the latter absent, Westbrook is more responsible for the health of the offense than ever.
“We’ve never seen a creator like him. All-time scorers like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were never directly responsible for so much of their teammates’ offense, even as they managed seasons of similar usage. No high-volume playmaker has ever neared the number of field goal and free throw attempts necessary to match Westbrook. Even the ranks of astounding shot creators this season—Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Stephen Curry—don’t come close to the same marks for both possession usage and assists, each checked internally and externally in ways that Westbrook is not. There is no passivity in Westbrook nor any allowance for it in his current role.
– Hassan Whiteside ejected again (from Shandel Richardson, sun-sentinel.com):
” Earlier in the day, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was asked if he felt teammate Hassan Whiteside had learned his lesson about controlling his emotions on the court.
Apparently, Whiteside has yet to check his voice mail because he obviously hasn’t gotten the message.
He was ejected in the second half of Monday’s 100-90 loss to the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena, marking his second early exit in five games. Whiteside, who has already been fined $36,000 this season, will almost certainly have to open up his checkbook again. The act made Wade’s game-high 34 points a mere footnote.
“Very (disappointed),” Wade said. “We all are. If you’re a Heat fan, you are. In this locker room, you are. Everybody. He’s going to have to learn. He’s been learning the hard way … Hopefully, he changes his mentality quick.”
– Born to Scout: Inside the Minds of NBA Front-Office Sons (from Josh Martin, Bleacher report):
” More than half of the league’s teams employ at least one person on their coaching and/or front-office staffs with family ties to the Association, and most of those hires either made their bones as scouts or are currently doing so. Bleacher Report caught up with five legacies who rode the scouting route into the ranks of those employed within the Association.”
Read the Q & As with Donnie Nelson, Jason Buckner, Jonnie West, Patrick Sund and Jake Eastman here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2241049-born-to-scout-inside-the-minds-of-nba-front-office-sons
– The Spurs are streaking but still have issues to sort out (from Michael Erler, poundingtherock.com):
– Nuggets rout Knicks for third win under coach Melvin Hunt (from Christopher Dempsey, Denver Post):
” “It’s fun,” Faried said. “When you’re able to play like this and just space the floor and basically run up and down the court, it’s fun. It’s exciting. The fans love it, we love it, and we’re going to keep trying to play like this.”
“I think it’s just us moving the ball and just sharing it,” forward Wilson Chandler said. “Everybody touching the ball, it just makes you want to play. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m used to it. That’s how I’ve been playing since I came into the league. So, I’m comfortable.”
– Anthony Davis is unstoppable and 3 other things from last night (from jesus Gomez, sbnation.com):
– Coach Budenholzer, Jeff Teague and the Hawks (from Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated):
– Warriors: David Lee ‘odd man out’ in Kerr’s rotation (from Monte Poole, csnbayarea.com):
“David’s a great player. He’s been an All-Star. He’s still in his prime,” he went on. “What’s been tricky is that we’ve developed a formula while he was out that has been very effective for us. And you compound that with the fact that the whole league is going small at the 4-position and every night you’re playing a 3-point shooter at the 4 spot. We’ve adapted to that. We’ve adapted to our early-season lineups. Draymond has obviously grabbed that position. So it’s tricky.”
One more reason why it’s tricky: Lee, 31, is the team’s highest paid player, at roughly $15 million this season, with another season remaining at $15.5 mil.
Kerr, however, is in no position to consider that – just as he must ignore the well-known fact that Lee is a personal favorite of team CEO Joe Lacob. As much as Lacob likes Lee, he is more addicted to the thrill of victory.
Meanwhile, Lee mostly sits and watches the Warriors play the best basketball in franchise history. They’re 50-12 and the playoffs beckon.
“We’re winning and we’re having fun,” Lee said. “It’s hard at times. I couldn’t do this if we weren’t winning. But we are. I’m not going to put myself ahead of that.”
Kerr has shown a willingness to play his entire roster, depending on matchups. Chances are that at some point, Lee will be summoned.
“David’s a great guy,” Kerr said. “He’s great player. If I put him out there for 30 minutes a night, I have no doubt he’d average 18 points and 10 boards. He’d do his thing because he’s talented and skilled. But it’s all about how the puzzle fits together. And right now, he’s just been the odd man out. And it’s incredibly frustrating for him, as it should be. He’s a human being.”
– How Utah’s Perimeter D Has Flourished (from Ben Dowsett, saltcityhoops):
” By now, any observant Jazz fan knows the numbers. Utah’s defensive ascension has been rapid and incredible, and they remain the league’s best per-possession unit since the All-Star break and, indeed, since the start of February.
What fewer might have realized, though this nugget has begun to seep into the collective Jazz consciousness as well of late, is that this climb to the league’s elite defensively has been about far more than Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower has been the lynchpin: without question, the foundation upon which the rest of the group has built their confidence and cohesion, but per-possession figures actually indicate that Utah has been better defensively since February 1st while Gobert sits, by a reasonable margin. There’s always noise in these numbers, but it’s abundantly clear the Jazz have become far more than a one-trick pony defensively.
A big part of what’s kept the team elite even when Rudy hits the bench has been improved play on the perimeter. A team that spent all of last year and much of early this season struggling immensely with simple first-level defensive rotations had begun to figure a few things out by the turn of the new year, but what we’ve seen in recent weeks illustrates a guard and wing group that has coalesced more quickly than many might have thought possible.”
Read and view it here: http://saltcityhoops.com/spreading-their-wings-how-utahs-perimeter-d-has-flourished/
– UTAH’S FUTURE HAS ARRIVED (from Brett Koremenos, sportonearth.com):
” Though it’s too late for a playoff run this season, the emergence of Gobert after the trade of Kanter, along with the growth and potential of players like Dante Exum, Alec Burks (who is not even contributing to this run due to season-ending surgery), Favors and Hayward, has accelerated the team’s rebuilding process. The future — and defense — has arrived in Utah.”
– In consideration of James Borrego (from Phillip Rossman-Reich. orlandomagicdaily.com):
” The running thought is that James Borrego is keeping the seat warm for the Magic’s next coach. But the way the team has responded makes you wonder.”
– Arron Afflalo Q & A (from forwardcenter.net):
” During an interview on the March 9 edition of the Jim Rome Show, Trail Blazers shooting guard Arron Afflalo discussed the trade that brought him to Portland, the season-ending injury to Wesley Matthews and how that changes his role, his belief in Portland as a championship team and the importance of chemistry to the Blazers and how it may have been lacking on other teams he’s played for.”
– Lou Williams Q&A (from Mike Mazzeo, ESPN):
– The 2014-15 NBA No-Stats All-Star Team (from Jared Dubin, Bleacher Report):
” At the end of the season, the NBA will bestow upon various players awards for their performance throughout this season. The league will hand out the MVP, the Rookie of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Sixth Man of the Year and more. It will name the First-, Second- and Third-Team All-NBA and the First- and Second-Team All-Defensive teams.
The players you’ll read about below probably won’t receive any of those honors. With the exception of one player, they’re fairly unlikely to even be in the discussion. These are the players who contribute on the margins.
Almost all of them are the fifth options in their team’s lineup when they’re in the game—the glue guys who hold the lineup together, supplementing the primary options in a way that makes the unit click. They’re the No-Stats All-Star Team (more like the Not-All-That-Many-Stats All-Star team, really, but No-Stats just has a better ring to it).
We’ll do this like All-Star voting: two guards and three frontcourt players as our starters, with two additional guards, three additional frontcourt players and two wild cards as the reserves. And here they are:”
– Garnett, Neal Helping Young Wolves (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders):
” A number of playoff teams pursued the two veteran players in hopes of strengthening their roster for a postseason run.
But rather than being traded to contenders, both players ended up on the Minnesota Timberwolves – a team that currently has the worst record in the Western Conference and one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. The Wolves parted ways with Thaddeus Young to land Garnett and moved Mo Williams and Troy Williams to acquire Neal (and a second-round pick). That’s because Flip Saunders, the team’s head coach and president of basketball operations, felt it was important for Minnesota’s young core to be surrounded by strong veteran leaders who could help their growth.”
– Royce White on Larry Sanders, Mental Wellness and the NBA (from Dave Zirin, The Nation):
” When budding Milwaukee Bucks star Larry Sanders announced that he was voluntarily leaving the National Basketball Association to deal with his depression, anxiety and mental wellness, largely supportive comments emerged across the league. Yet there was one basketball opinion guaranteed to be more valuable and more honest than any others: that of former Iowa State All-American Royce White. The sixteenth pick in the 2012 NBA draft, White is currently not playing in the NBA. Just 23 years old, he has risked his career by confronting the NBA over its lack of a comprehensive mental health policy. I was able to interview Royce White for my radio show/podcast Edge of Sports. Here is an edited version of his comments:”
– Adam Silver Q&A (from Kerry Eggers, portlandtribune.com):
Additional player notes, updates, profiles:
– TJ Warren: http://www.arizonasports.com/41/1814727/Phoenix-Suns-rookie-TJ-Warren-provides-bright-spot-in-loss-to-Golden-State and http://valleyofthesuns.com/2015/03/10/t-j-warrens-game-bright-spot-struggling-suns-offense/
– James Young: http://redsarmy.com/2015/03/10/the-james-young-conundrum/
– Charlie Villanueva; http://charlievillanueva.sportsblog.com/posts/1941244/answers_to_your_questions.html
– JaKarr Sampson: http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150310-sampson