NBA first round exit interviews

It’s peanut butter jelly time.

When a team exits the first round of the playoffs, for some less-than smiley players on the losing squad, the final post-game interview of the season can be a bit daunting. Typically younger players with more to lose keep a tight lip, potentially spit out the athlete-rhetoric responses we have grown used to about “the future” or “keep working hard” or my personal favorite, “it is what it is”.

“Did IIIIIIIIIII do thattttt?!?!”

But every once in a great while, a player who’s a little longer in the tooth and full in the belly, may spew out some interesting nuggets of truth and /or general tone-def selfishness.

Cool armpit tattoo bro.

Take John Wall for example, when disposed about his team’s future:

“It’s just figuring out what pieces we can add to our team,” Wall said. “What guys can stay and what guys can go. That make us, that really want to be here. That really want to win and really want to take that next step.

“I don’t put the pressure on everybody else. I put the pressure on myself because I am that franchise guy. I am the guy that has to be the leader of the team, that has to get everybody better, make everybody better on my team,” Wall said. “At the same time, if I’m doing my part, the other 14 guys on my team have to do their part at getting better every year. Just being true to the team. Our problem at a lot times is guys don’t understand their role and respect their role.”

After the post-game interviews cooled, he elaborated more by throwing players under the bus:

“It’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things,” Wall said. “We don’t really have an athletic big.”

later adding….

“I don’t know. It’s up to them to make the decision. Like I said, whoever comes back, whoever stays, what it is, we deal with it because those are our teammates,” Wall said. “Those guys do the best they can. They have the ability to help us out as much as possible. We know what it is, what the situations are. That’s up to the front office to decide. If they want to make any changes or keep guys. At the same time, you kind of know what guys want to be here from what people have said in the past or what they haven’t said.”

Sooooooo that’s one way to do it, I guess.

Carmelo Anthony, who in the last 6 months, fell off of a cliff the size of the friggin Grand Canyon averaged an awkward 16.2 ppg and 5.8 rpb this season (both career lows) only to follow-up the downward spiral in the playoffs by slopping out 11.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg. The stat line in the playoffs for Melo read more like a third year role player who might get traded in the off-season than that of a scoring champ, gold medalist and league scoring title-belt owner.

So when the OKC Westbrooks were put out of their misery by the Utah Yazz flutes, an obviously frustrated Melo took to the microphone, and when asked about next season, Melo replied:

“I’m not sacrificing no bench role. That’s out of the question. As far as sacrificing—I don’t even like to talk about finances and the economics of the game of basketball. When that time comes, that time will come. If and when we have to sit down and talk about what’s the future, and ideas and situations, then, that time will come. I honestly don’t even feel comfortable sitting here talking about money and basketball.”

Kudos for Melo NOT speaking money publicly, he’s smart to ignore that part of it. Melo si owed $28 million next year if OKC takes his option and brings him back. But there’s zero chance Melo will be a starter, he’s hit his wall athletically and there’s no chance he can be anything but a spot up shooter with Westbrook’s gazelle offense. This season he produced a dismal 50.3 True Shooting percentage, and an even shittier 48.3 percentage after the All Star break. He’s been an inefficient scorer and a poor defender for at least the last four seasons and forever respectively.

 

Russell Westbrook Dunks Harder Than Most

Russell Westbrook attacks the rim with NONE f&@ks given.  No one on this planet gets to the rim with less interest for other people’s well-being than Russell Westbrook.  If you get in his way, you will become a floor burned carcass with a basketball jersey….and you’ll probably be on fire too.

Last night the Denver Nuggets got the blunt end of that particular spoon of dirty-sauce from Westbrook:

Make no mistake, the Nuggets are a bad basketball team, but somehow they sparked enough energy and managed to keep this game close, losing 110-104.  But honestly who really cares when Westbrook is dunking harder than a professional donuts-to-coffee-boyancey tester.  That’s what the fans wanna see, proved by the fact that the home-team Nuggets fans were cheering for Westbrook after each monstrous dunk.


***sidenote:  Oh, and Westbrook apparently hates the Nuggets’ mascot, Rocky, making us love his game even more.  COLD-BLOOOOOOOOODED:

Who’s jumping ship on the Thunder’s chances?

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ESPN ranked the top point guards in the NBA a few weeks ago, with a sub-category of an MVP discussion, which spawned a lengthy rant-and-rave among the best basketball minds (sitting in my 10 foot radius) of our time about Russell Westbrook’s worth to OKC and weather or not the door is closing on the Thunder’s possibility of a championship.

First, let me preface this entire mouth-word-vomit by saying I’ve completely bought in to the “Russell Westbrook Experience” in Oklahoma City.  Like the ugly broken horse on a carousel that never ends, I’ve come full circle on Russ.  Three years ago, you couldn’t TELL me anything about Westbrook’s game that I didn’t have a negative rebuttal for:

  • “He’s the most athletic guard in the league”His shot selection is ridiculous and borderline criminal.
  • “He’s got that killer instinct and will win you games” – He’s more out of control than a drunken cheetah chasing a herd of gazelles, and he constantly let’s his emotions get the best of him.
  • “No one in the league can guard him” – If I see him look-off Durant and shoot an ill-advised pull-up 18 footer one more time……….

The point is, in the last 3-4 years Westbrook has finally figured out how to play WITH Durant and still be able to dominate the game WITHOUT necessarily dominating the ball.  Because of this learning curve that Westbrook has finally mastered, the Durant/Westbrook combo is the most unguardable 2-man game in the entire NBA (as Warrior fans scream Splash Brothers?). I’m not saying Westbrook is perfect by any means, but he’s a Walter White to Heisenberg character transition compared to what he was 5 seasons ago.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 02 Arizona v UCLA

Ladies and Gentleman, your 2016 Los Angeles Lakers?

But how could Westbrook’s emergence as a 2015 NBA MVP candidate (yet OKC isn’t in the playoffs) mean that OKC’s window is closing on a possible championship?  I’m posing the question, NOT attempting to answer it yet, so let’s examine………shall we?

  • The most glaring problem with OKC is that they can’t seem to ever stay completely healthy all at the same time.  Doesn’t it SEEM like the dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook haven’t played an entire season with each other without injuries in a couple years?  It’s actually been since 2012-13 that they both played over 75 games together.  In fact they’ve only played over 90% of a full season together 4 times in their 7 year existence together.  Having said that, they HAVE been healthy together in the playoffs 4 out of the last 5 appearances.
  • Westbrook REALLY, REALLY wants to be the one and only top dog on a contending team.  Whether or not he’ll ever admit it (he won’t), I think it’s obvious he wants to be THE go-to-guy all the time no matter what, similar to James Harden, who left town in 2012-13.  The proof is in the pudding this season especially, without Durant this year he put on a show of triple-doubles, racking up 11 total for the season with a streak of 4 strait games of triple doubles that even Ice Cube would admit was amazing.  It felt like a giant Pedro Cerrano-type EFF YOU from Westbrook to the whole league, “EFF YOU JOBU, I’ll do it myself!”

  • The Thunder’s depth and bench play are a problem for them to contend with the likes of the Western Conference.  In Bench Efficiency, OKC ranks 12th overall in the league, BUT they’re behind the Spurs, Lakers, Warriors, Mavs, Grizzlies and Trailblazers; all teams they’ll be fighting with on a daily basis.
  •   The Thunder have a handful of young, but yet-to-figure-it-out role players that show very good upsides:  Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, Mitch McGary, Anthony Morrow, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb.  BUT, the first three names are all basically the same player at basically the same efficiency level (6’10”-7’0″ guys who are super RAW).  As are the last three names (6’5″-6’9″ guys who are super RAW), at the moment they are small-time contributors that are ultimately just weighing OKC down in the short term until they actually develop.  Dion Waters is the only somewhat consistent offensive player, but he doesn’t want anything to do with playing defense and is prone to jacking up terrible shots after dribbling the shot clock down below 5 seconds.  The Thunder are about 10 minutes away from tearing the club up, but it feels like a midget is hangin from their necklace.  It’s hard to dance with a midget hangin from your neck, even if it is 24-K Gold.

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The 2015 NBA Playoffs have opened in exciting fashion, well at least the Western Conference games have been exciting……not sure what I’m watching in that other conference.  Seriously, the Boston vs. Cleveland, Chicago vs. Milwaukee and Atlanta vs. Brooklyn series are the pre-party before the dinner party before the real party, while Toronto vs. Washington is a complete snooze-fest with less scoring than a quadriplegic ice hockey game.

But the one key ingredient missing this playoff season is the OKC Thunder’s presence, maybe we’ve just been spoiled getting to see them be a thorn in the side of the perennial Western Conference top guns for the last 5 seasons while Westbrook and Durant become more and more unguardable.  But Durant and Westbrook aren’t the only one’s who are pissed off about their absence from the playoffs, I’m stuck here watching the Uni-brow try and one-man-show his Pelicans towards an underdog “here’s a ribbon for participation” award  against Steph “MVP” Curry’s Warriors.  It’s fun, but going nowhere.

1385950973000-12-01-2013-Anthony-Davis1 OKC is looking at a possible overhaul in the off-season to try and make Durant and Westbrook happy, and I can’t wait to see what happens.  I think we all wanna see another Thunder vs. Lebron’s Current Team NBA championship again.

 

 

Russell Westbrook is Batman

OKC’s enigmatic, masked-vigilante, Point Guard, Russell Westbrook recorded his 5th triple-double in 6 games last night as the Thunder held off the pesky Great White North Dinosaurs (Toronto Raptors) 108-104.

With Kevin Durant out due to injury, OKC has completely handed the keys to the Ferrari over to Westbrook and he’s Ferris Bueller-ed his way to 100 mph EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the All-Star break.

ferris-buellers-day-off-trio-ferrariSTAT O’ THE DAY:

Westbrook is averaging 34.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 11.4 assists since the All-Star break.

Raptors’ All-Star DeMar DeRozan on Westbrook: “If you can find somebody who has slowed him down, let me know. But it’s definitely tough. You’ve got to give him credit.”

Westbrook is leading the league in scoring at 27.4 ppg, fourth in assists at 8.3 apg. and second in PER (player efficiency rating) at 30.15 trailing only Anthony Davis (31.34).

Westbrook is filling up stat sheets with more ink than an octopus at a pen convention.  BOOM!

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NBA Plays of the Night

1)  Western Conference Player of the Month, Russell Westbrook going coast-to-coast for the devastating dunk.  Making the 76ers defenders look like they’re standing still watching paint dry.

That dunk had more STANK on it than the face you make when you look at Philly’s depth chart.

2)  Steph Curry stepping back and splashing a three-ball in someone’s eyes isn’t a new visual, but look closely as Steph is so confident he’s making the shot that he doesn’t even bother to watch it go in.

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SPLASH isn’t a big enough word for Steph Curry.  We need to reinvent a word for his jump-shots.