True Hoop Drew

I breakdown basketball constantly in my mind and occassionaly translate it into blog form

Tag: russell westbrook

NBA All-Star starters announced

NBA.com

Last night on TNT the NBA All-Star starters were revealed as voted by the fans. Yao Ming, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson all somehow were not selected. Those days are over at least.

Dwight Howard was the overall leading vote-getter and Kobe Bryant received the second most votes. I don’t think anyone really has a problem with that but the fans do tend to make the wrong choices every year voting more based on popularity than worth.

This season in particular the starters have been voted on very early into the season because of the lockout and the All-Star game remaining at its original date.

Below I will take a look at each selection and weigh in on whether or not it was the right choice.
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The Thunder’s pick-and-roll defense vs. the Clippers

Pick-and-roll defense is always going to be a huge point of emphasis when you play the Clippers. The Clippers run pick-and-roll plays as much as any team in the league and with Chris Paul at the helm are pretty efficient in doing so.

The pick-and-roll when shots are taken from the ball handler or roll man account for around 40 percent of the Clippers’ offense this season. Basically not counting passes kicked out to spot-up jumpers or secondary cutters.

Against the Thunder last night the Clippers only got 15 percent of their offense from the pick-and-roll ball handler and roll man. That’s because the Thunder are pretty good on defense and usually force their opponent into more isolation plays than usual (the Clippers took 32 percent of their shots on isolation plays).

The problem is that the Clippers had success when they did shoot off the pick-and-roll and a lot of success. They made 12-of-14 shots in the pick-and-roll game last night including all six of their shots when the roll man shot.

The Thunder’s pick-and-roll defense hasn’t been great this year and last night was a perfect example of why.

Here’s a look at a few of the pick-and-roll plays from last night’s game.
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The Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook pick-and-roll

hoopspeak.com

The Oklahoma City Thunder had a great fourth quarter in their win last Friday night over the Golden State Warriors. Despite turning the ball over 22 times in the game, they rode a 35-point final period to win 120-109.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were the lead catalysts in the game and especially down the stretch. Golden State couldn’t match up with either and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks took advantage of this.

The Thunder led Golden State by just three, 88-85, with 8:33 left in the game. From this point on Oklahoma City went with their Westbrook and Durant pick-and-roll play.

The play is simple and starts off with Westbrook bringing the ball down on the left wing. Nick Collison then screens for Durant to come across the top of the key and set a screen for Westbrook at the wing.
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Rondo a better fit in OKC than Westbrook

After watching the first five games of the Thunder season, I’m starting to feel like Russell Westbrook is literally the worst player in the league. He’s definitely becoming one of the most destructive and as part of the Thunder faithful, I want him out now before it gets any worse.

The trade rumors I’ve heard involving Westbrook that are the most exciting would be swaps for Rajon Rondo or Stephen Curry. While Curry is one of my favorite players in the league and I would love to see this trade happen, I’d rather see Westbrook traded for Rondo and think it makes a lot of sense for both teams.

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Part 1: Best players in the NBA by position

I’ve always wanted to take the time and make a list of the best players in the NBA. Anyone who loves the NBA does this all the time and people are always debating who the best player in the league is. It’s a debate that will always go on because it is nearly impossible to compare players at different positions and tell which is more valuable (although everyone thinks it’s easy).

I’ve spent some time trying to come up with the best players by position. But there aren’t really five positions in basketball because there aren’t five different types of players. So I’ve come up with the most relevant positions (player types) that help a team win a title and ranked their importance and tried to come up with the most relevant/valuable players in the league when it comes to winning a championship.

First off, here are the positions and by importance:

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2011-2012 NBA Season Preview

Nothing compelled me to write more than the NBA Playoffs last season. And during the lockout and offseason, nothing interested me enough to write because nothing could compare to the NBA last season. I just wanted to get the lockout over and have a season. We’ll finally be getting that now Christmas Day and with the announcement that I will be receiving NBA League Pass as a Christmas gift, I feel the need to fire up this blog again. If ever a time then now, right?

I always wanted to do season preview articles and love thinking about this stuff so I’m going with predictions on win totals to start in the shortened 66-game season. I’ve done my research (listened to the NBA Today podcast and read Bill Simmons’ 12 Days of Christmas) and I’m ready to give it a shot.

Disclaimer: with the condensed season I expect a ton more injuries like last lockout. Also, there are some transactions that I’m sure will go down before the season starts still or right after it does. So in six months when everyone is Googleing me and reading this article, please don’t hate on me too much. Also I watched all of the NBA players’ lockout mixes on Hoopmixtape.com and will be weighing those tapes heavily when making these predictions.

Really, just pay attention to the order of teams and win totals to get the most out of this preview, what I write about each team is a lot of filler.

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Forecasting the next decade of the NBA

Before the Finals started I did a little research looking at the past NBA champions and runner-ups. I basically came to the conclusion that the Dallas Mavericks could not beat the Miami Heat this year. The Heat’s big three were all in their primes and Dallas was simply older than any other team that won the title.

The only thing I could see that could explain Dallas winning the series in a historical context was that Dirk Nowitzki really was one of the greatest 15 or 20 players to ever play in the league and despite being in his 12th season was still in his prime and thus a worthy star to single-handedly lead this team to a title.

Now the Mavericks did win this series with great “team” basketball, as everyone likes to say, but at the end of the day when people look back at the record books and the teams that won it all, this Dallas team will stand out and be remembered for having one unbelievable star player.

When I looked back at all of the NBA champions since 1980, it was never surprising who won and why they did. Everything made sense. At the end of the day, you needed to have one of ten different players to even have a chance: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant. And now Dirk is on that list. He and Moses are the only ones I put on that list who only won a single title. Dirk could have easily won two and Moses was a top 12 player of all-time and deserving. Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Finals reaction

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last night to capture the 2011 NBA championship.

LeBron James was horrific for the last three games of the series having what had to be the worst performance ever by a superstar in a championship. Dirk Nowitzki was clutch all series with one of the most impressive accomplishments in NBA history winning a title with this Dallas team.

But most importantly, the 2006 NBA Finals travesty has been avenged and in the most perfect fashion. Yes, now I am finally over those Finals.

So many things happened this season in the NBA. It was one of the best seasons I can remember and had such a dramatic NBA Finals to cap it off. Now there might be a lockout next year and how sad that would be if not for the unbelievable season we had this year and the memories that have come from it. Read the rest of this entry »

How important is it to be in your prime?

As the Miami Heat were busy eliminating the Boston Celtics, I got thinking about how it was clear that the Celtics did not have anything left in the tank and were too old and too injured to keep up with Miami.

As someone who was watching the series hoping that Boston would advance because I like watching them play more, before the series even started my biggest fear was essentially what ended up happening.

Things like Kevin Garnett wouldn’t be able to be effective enough on both sides of the court, Ray Allen would be relegated to a jump shooter and not hitting in every game and Paul Pierce would have to carry too large of an offensive load. Even while watching the regular season meetings between the two teams you could kind of see this fate looming. While Boston seemed to always get a ton of good looks, it also seemed like they had to play pretty perfectly to get those looks and it’d be harder in the playoffs.

A big reason why Miami won the series was youth and talent overpowering Boston. They have their best three guys in their prime. It sounds simple but it really allows for them to play more minutes and play them more effectively. When Doc Rivers was forced to bring back Garnett early in the fourth quarter for Game 4, Boston was doomed and Garnett ran out of gas as the game eventually went into overtime.
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Preview of the 2015 Western Conference Finals anyone?

The two youngest teams in the NBA met up Friday night in what has quickly become one of my favorite matchups to watch in the league today.

Oklahoma City took care of Memphis 102-94 led by Kevin Durant who threw up a 32-10 with Russell Westbrook chipping in with 23 points and seven assists.

I can’t help but want to take a look into the crystal ball that tells the NBA’s future and see what could be if these two franchises are able to hang on to their cores of young stars.

Right now, the Thunder are a lot better off than Memphis but I like to include the Grizzlies in the conversation mainly because of how much I loved their most recent draft and the potential I see in O.J. Mayo.

You can’t help but love every pick they made in the draft which started with the second overall pick being Hasheem Thabeet (the definition of “upside”). They went on to take DeMarre Carroll and Sam Young to round out their last two picks. How can you complain with those picks especially when you already have young studs like Mayo, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay?

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