Another week, another connection to a superstar. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. 75 days until the first day of the season. Here are the Rumblings (and I’m not talking about your earthquake, Edmond).
A great article by Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated on how the Thunder might deploy Russell Westbrook and Paul George: “Somewhere deep within Russell Westbrook’s triple-double season was a call for help. Westbrook took what he could while he could, approaching his superstar positioning with a marauder mentality. Every possession was an opportunity; no one defender could really stop Westbrook, and thus his—and much of the team’s—internal calculus put the ball in his hands for wave after wave of attack. Few have worn their high usage so well. No player in the modern statistical era has posted a usage rate so high, and yet Westbrook drove ferociously into the teeth of the defense on possession after possession.”
Albert Dadson looks at how Paul George will adapt to joining Russell Westbrook’s team: “Yes, George will make Westbrook’s life easier. We all know that, especially on the defensive end, where Westbrook is known to struggle. But what happens when there’s 10 seconds left on the clock and the Thunder are down two and the game plan is to shoot the three to win the game? Who takes that shot? We all remember the past. Russell Westbrook would take more shots than Durant, and the question would arise: Is Westbrook hold Durant back? Isn’t he one of the top three players in the league? Why isn’t he shooting more? The problem was that another capable, MVP-caliber player was playing alongside of him. Nobody questioned the talent of Westbrook, who wiped out all doubts with triple-double after triple-double and won the MVP award at the end of his first season without Durant.”
Brett Dawson on Roberson receiving free throw advice from everywhere and everyone: “He’s tried shooting them underhanded. So if you’re going to approach Andre Roberson with free-throw shooting advice — and he’d rather you didn’t, but knows from experience that you might — you can scratch that technique off your list. “I tried it in practice,” Roberson said, mimicking a two-handed underhand toss. “That s— does not work. I’m sorry.”
The Oklahoman looks at if this season will be a redemptive season for Westbrook: “Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins has written about Westbrook as well as anyone in the last year. On ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday, Jenkins said the arrival of George is a second chance for the Thunder but even more so for Westbrook: “I think this season is going to be as much a referendum on Russ as it will be on Paul George,” Jenkins said. “I think when Sam Presti made this move for the Thunder, he did it as a second chance … that’s the way the Thunder thinks of this. For the organization, for the city, but for many ways for Russell Westbrook. This is a second shot at playing with a superstar, to see if you can elevate him in the ways that a great point guard does.”
Brett Dawson says Russell Westbrook is in town. But warns for Thunder fans not to get too excited: “Don’t expect the MVP to sign a contract extension with the Thunder while he’s in town. Westbrook arrived in OKC late Wednesday night, but a source told The Oklahoman that the trip is not so he can sign a contract extension. Though Westbrook spends much of his summer at his home in Los Angeles, he makes periodic offseason trips to Oklahoma City. There’s no expectation that this one is to sign the extension.”