James, Westbrook named Players of the Week

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LeBron James and Russell Westbrook were named the Players of the Week for the week of February 1-7.

This is James’ fifth time winning player of the week this season. Handling most of the playmaking duties for Cleveland, James averaged 35.0 points, 10.3 assists, and 7 rebounds over the week.

Westbrook won the award for the first time this season. He also averaged a near triple-double, with 19.7 points, 9.7 assists, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.3 steals.

James winning the award is no surprise, but Westbrook’s recent strong play could be a sign of something. Westbrook is only 21 years old, and is already one of the most versatile starting guards in the NBA. He’s got tremendous athleticism, great size for the position, is great at getting steals and capable of playing lock-down defense, is a great rebounder, and sees the court very well.

Like many young point guards, Westbrook has been inconsistent. He’s had lapses at the defensive end, struggles with his outside shot, is plagued by turnovers, and has had serious issues finishing at the rim. Westbrook’s True Shooting is currently at 48%, which is one of the worst marks in the league for a starting point guard.

Up to this point, Westbrook’s talent has allowed him to be a successful player despite his offensive inefficiency. If he figures his offensive game out, he could become one of the league’s best guards. On Daily Thunder, Royce Young has a great post comparing Westbrook to some all-star guards at similar stages in their development, and Westbrook doesn’t measure up that badly.

Kevin Durant has emerged as an MVP-caliber player, and is well on his way to becoming one of the best scorers the league has ever seen. However, Westbrook learning how to use his tools correctly might be the key to the Thunder making their first deep playoff run.

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.