Tag Archives: russell westbrook

OKC Pulls the String on Scott Brooks

By Kaleb Page

April 24, 2015

Being a professional coach these days comes with more scrutiny than ever before. With 24-hour news cycles, social media and podcasts, there is no shortage of debate on how well a coach is actually coaching.

For much of professional coaching, especially in the past, the leash on a coach was at least three to four years. However, given the right circumstances that leash can be shortened or it can get the extension.

Scott Brooks was fired Wednesday by the Oklahoma City Thunder. After seven seasons as the head coach, the team decided to fire Brooks and look to go in a different direction. It’s surprising given what Brooks did in his time as a coach. He had a career record of 338-207 (.620) and was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2010.

When Brooks started his career with the Thunder back in 2008 the team was an awful 22-47, for the next six seasons Brooks coached a team that hit at least 50 wins four times. That doesn’t include the 47-19 season (2011-12) that had the team in the NBA finals facing off with the ‘Big Three’ in Miami (the Thunder would lose).

This season for the Thunder, in the much tougher Western Conference, was a roller coaster ride. Every time your looked to see what the team was doing, there seemed to be a debilitating injury. For a good 90% of the season the team was without their superstar Kevin Durant (last year’s MVP). Russell Westbrook battled many injuries (missed 15 games) to still battle night in night out, make a push for the MVP and becoming a nightly triple-double machine. It also didn’t help that versatile big man, Serge Ibaka, fell to injury keeping him out for the big stretch run toward the playoffs.

Despite the setbacks, the team was in contention all the way up to the final game of the season for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Even though Brooks took this team from nothing to something. It still wasn’t good enough to stay off the chopping block.

Now, there’s the argument that Brooks had long enough with a lot of talent to get more Finals appearances and even an NBA title. However, I’m not picking up what they’re putting down.

If anything Brooks deserved at least another year. He was the original guy that was the voice leading this group of young talent, and it was in the hardest conference in the association.

To be honest I think the real look into scrutiny should be at GM. Yes, GM Sam Presti is a bright mind at that position but there are some questionable moves that have put this team down this so-called path.

Let’s look at this team when they got to the NBA Finals. When they were in the Finals this team had Westbrook, Durant and James Harden (Yeah…you read that right). Now imagine, that team still together as a dynamic big three and even a big four if you factor in Ibaka. However, the GM took part in a three team trade that sent Harden to Houston and got Kevin Martin in return.

Yeah, let’s just say that didn’t pan out with Martin being an afterthought and leaving after just one year.

You could even look at the trade that let Jeff Green go and gave the team Kendrick Perkins. A deal that wrapped up so much money in Perkins, that it could have been used elsewhere (i.e. James Harden).

I know the coach is the figure-head of the team, and he will take the fall 9 times out of 10. In all honesty, it looks like there needs to be some changing elsewhere as well.

…But I guess that’s none of my business. (Enjoy Shaq and Charles Barkley’s take)

 

NBA MVP Race During the Final Stretch

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By Matt Stevenson

April 6, 2015

The NBA MVP race is coming down to the wire with a 5-star cast. LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry are all playing at a phenomenal rate as the season winds down.

Harden and Westbrook both have led their teams despite losing valuable teammates such as Dwight Howard for Harden, and Kevin Durant for Westbrook. LeBron James showed his worth during his 2 week break as the Cavs went 1-7 during that stretch and have looked damn near flawless since. Then, of course, there is Steph Curry who seems as if he’s making memes out of everyone he faces up against. All 4 are having incredible seasons and it is difficult to pick and choose only one player in such a competitive season.

For Steph Curry, his Golden State Warriors currently possess the 1st seed in the Western Conference and also hold the NBA’s best record at 62-13, 6 games ahead of the next best record held by the Atlanta Hawks. Shooting nearly 44% from 3 point range and 59% from the field, Curry is in the top 5 for each respective category.

The super splash brothers have been a force to be reckoned with, but that’s what many are holding against Steph Curry.

Curry has an unbelievable amount of talent around him, arguably the best surrounding crew in the whole NBA. Kay Thompson and Draymond Green are both deserving of max contracts while David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut are no scrubs either. This team has big time players with experience and is a dangerous team to face down the stretch.

So Curry might have easily had the best season with team success as well as individual success, but the talent around him may end up hurting him in the end.

Next lets talk about the king himself, LeBron James. As mentioned earlier we noticed how awful the Cavaliers played when LeBron was out for his two-week break and how good they were when he returned. Arguably the most dangerous team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers have successfully defied the laws of throwing together a new team and staff while actually winning.

It doesn’t happen often. Steve Kerr of the Warriors is a rookie coach as well, however he went into a system under previous Golden State Coach Mark Jackson that had the same players with great team chemistry. This Cavs team has a rookie Head Coach in David Blatt, except he doesn’t know the NBA like Kerr does. Oh, and only 3 players from last years team are even on the current roster.

However, there are some scratches on the surface to LeBron’s MVP case. Similar to Curry, LeBron has a gifted roster full of talent and potential. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love obviously are two of the top players in the league, despite the disappointing season of Love. JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are also worthy of mentioning as the great talent this Cavs team holds. Finally buying into David Blatt’s system, this Cavs team truly is a Championship contender and may even be the favorite.

In Houston all I hear is “Fear the Beard” from the Rockets fans. This man has really put the pressure on Oklahoma City to win soon as they traded possibly the best scorer in the league. His versatility is hard to compare as he is not afraid to take a shot on any part of the court. It seems like he has a 40-point game each week and his team currently holds the 2 seed in the brutal Western Conference.

Oh yeah, by the way this is without All-Star Center Dwight Howard and starting Point Guard Patrick Beverly. An injury plagued roster and losing the 3rd counterpart in Chandler Parsons from last season would assembly doom this Houston Rockets team, similar to how the Thunder currently hurt. Except Hardens Rockets are winning. Consistently winning despite the injuries are something all other MVP candidates can’t compete with.

But wait, Russell Westbrook is on a more injury prone team with last years NBA MVP, Kevin Durant, out for the season along with injuries to pretty much half of the roster. Although true, there is one big difference between Harden and Westbrook… Harden is sitting in the 2 spot in the West while Westbrook and the Thunder and fighting for their playoff lives. 11 triple-doubles by Westbrook is as incredible as it gets on an individual standpoint, however they aren’t always getting his team wins.

There have been point guards, recently and in past-time that have put up similar numbers yet still won. Jason Kidd did it in New Jersey in the early 2000’s while the big “O” Oscar Robinson did it as well back in the old days. If Westbrook and his Thunder don’t make the playoffs, it’s hard to even mention him in the discussion.

After this long post, I think it’s safe for me now to make a decision on my MVP for this season and I’m going to have to go with James Harden. As a biased Cavaliers fan, it hurts to give it to someone else aside LeBron, but Harden hasn’t had the talent LeBron and Curry have all year while still putting up incredible numbers as well as winning. This is no landslide this year and as a matter of fact, this is the tightest MVP race the league has seen in recent time.

This exhilarating MVP race is just the beginning of a post-season in which has me extremely excited due to the amount of legitimate contenders. Of course, the MVP is announced during the playoffs so as this exciting season winds down we look forward to the NBA playoffs. James Harden gets my vote, but it will definitely be a close one.

Wake Up!…It’s Westbrook Time

By Kaleb Page

March 10, 2015

In the greatest basketball league on the planet (the NBA) nightly you can be amazed by the talent on the floor. Whether you tune in to the Houston Rockets and watch James Harden, Cleveland with the three-headed monster of Love, Irving and James or in a small market like Milwaukee  where “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo  puts on a show.

While the league has many great players, the premium players are starting to make the push for the most valuable player trophy. Now I bet there are those out there acting like the funny vine saying that the only person for the MVP is LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James and LeBron James.

Yes I know James is the best player in the world and should be placed in the discussion for the MVP, but there is one player who has cemented his place in not only the discussion for the MVP but for the upper echelon of stars in the league.

This player is none other than Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook. For years there has been constant debate on whether or not Westbrook can play with Kevin Durant, also whether or not he can be a point guard in the league.

If you watched the video or even remember back a few years, the sentiment shown towards Westbrook was one of doubt towards his ability at the point and with Durant. Even recently there has been the same sentiment to doubt Westbrook on what he brings to the team.

Then came the All-Star Game.

Where Westbrook out-shined the stars on the court (Yes I know it’s a glorified scrimmage) putting up 41 points in 26 minutes; just one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time record of 42 points (in 37 mins.).  That performance just rolled over into what has been an amazing start to the second half of the season.

On Wednesday night Westbrook scored 49 points, career-high 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth consecutive triple-double. Four straight triple doubles in the best professional basketball league in the world? Are you kidding me?!

Even though it was against the 76ers, you still better be giving out the love to what Westbrook is doing. Four straight triple doubles hasn’t been done since the great one Michael Jordan did it in 1989.

While Durant has been injured Westbrook has had to hold this team afloat in what is a deadly Western Conference. It still surprises me that Westbrook still is cast aside as the side dish to Durant, and still gets left out of MVP talks.

While there are few people rumbling for Westbrook to get the love; there still isn’t enough talk.

The guy,who plays with controlled chaos and as Stephen A. Smith says is the ‘ultimate assassin,’ needs to be out of the possible talks of the MVP and instead in the for sure talks of MVP.

Right now it’s Westbrook’s world and we just live in it.

Kevin Durant Injured: Trouble in Oklahoma City?

By Ellen Chlumecky

It was reported on Sunday that the superstar small forward of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant, has a fracture in his right foot and is scheduled to miss out on the first month of the season. As ESPN News addressed, he is reported to have a broken bone at the base of the small toe. The irony of it all is that Durant does not miss games very often; missing just six games in the last five seasons. He leads the NBA in several aspects of the game: games, minutes, and points at this time. He only trails LeBron James in win shares. Many people debate that he may even dominate LeBron James in the whole game itself. However, with this recent injury, he might not be able to catch up with James by the time he returns. It does however give his teammates a chance to step up, especially Russell Westbrook.

The general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder reported that the foot fracture is the most common surgical procedure performed on NBA players in the game today. The procedure has happened so frequently that doctors are aware that there is enough examples and previous instances to predict an average recovery time. While surgery seems preeminent in his future, the general manager wants Durant to continue to go under consistent evaluation over the next few days just as a precautionary action. They have yet to have a press conference discussing the matter openly.

ESPN was one of the first news sources to report the injury. They interviewed the general manager, Sam Presti. Presti is hopeful that Durant will return in the allotted time reported. He is also discussing cutting down on Durant’s playing time because he wants to take stress off Durant. ESPN reflected the injury as a positive opportunity for Durant’s other teammates to step up into a leadership role.

Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report also reported on the injury. Both reports talked about how Durant’s injury is going to be a major detriment to the Thunder’s upcoming season. Both sources spent the majority of their articles discussing how big of a detriment the length of the injury and how other players have or have not come back from the injury. The other main point they made is how Russell Westbrook has a chance to step up but might not have what it takes.

Whether or not either news report is right about Westbrook, there is no option for Westbrook at this point. We will have to see whether or not Westbrook steps up or falls under the pressure.