Today, Thunder coach Scott Brooks is getting lots and lots of praise for leaving his bench (with Kevin Durant) out on the court throughout the fourth quarter. Some see it as a rebuke of Russell Westbrook, some as Brooks asserting his authority.
Not from where I sit. To me it’s more simple and pragmantic — he made the move that gave his team the best chance to win Game 2. He saw what was happening on the court and stuck with the guys that had played the best for the Thunder all game. He rode the hot lineup.
That’s not gutsy so much as smart. It may not have been easy considering the athletic talent on the bench, but it is what good coaches do.
The Thunder bench scored 50 points, was 16-of-23 shooting and +21 for the game. They were not playing great defense but they were running more cohesive offensive sets that the Mavericks were struggling to stop. There was no message that needed to be sent to the starters other than that — the bench guys are getting it done.
James Harden showed everyone why he is this team’s Manu Ginobili/Lamar Odom, bringing scoring (23 points) and some swagger off the bench. Not to mention the best beard in the NBA. I think his beard had three points and two boards Thursday night.
Eric Maynor is one of the best backup point guards in the league, he has games like this fairly often. Brooks know what he has and throughout the season has used Maynor more than many coaches use their backup point.
In his postgame comments, Brooks kept saying variations of the same thing, “We were increasing the lead.” He noted he had done it before during the regular season.
Not all coaches would have done it. Some would have stuck to their rotations and had the stars back in at the 6 minute mark of the fourth. But the best ones ride the hot hand.
This wasn’t about messages to Westbrook or some master plan of control. It was winning and evening the series. Simple as that.
And because his moves made to win the game worked, Brooks deserves credit.
Is this disrespectful to the Lakers? Absolutely.
And I love it.
Chris Paul and the Clippers crushed their Los Angeles counterparts, 133-109, last night. The Clippers, who’ve won 13 of 14 in the series, have practically run out of ways to show up their crosstown rival on the court. If it now takes bench visitors, so be it.
This is the best late-blowout bench behavior since LeBron James led the Cavaliers in the water-bottle challenge in a December win over the Knicks. This would rank higher if Chris Jr. didn’t also joined the bench in the Clippers’ November win over the Mavericks, which is the pictured on this post.
You’ve probably heard of the top college point guards for the 2017 NBA draft: Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. You might have even heard of French point guard prospect Frank Ntilikina.
Which point guard will be drafted next after those six?
One possibility: Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans.
Evan Daniels of Scout:
Evans looks like a second-round pick, but a dearth of point guards projected into the latter half of the first round could boost his stock.
He’s ultra quick and ultra aggressive and led the nation’s top KenPom offense. Evans relentlessly attacks the rim, often while forcing transition opportunities. That gets defenses scrambled, creating kickout-passing lanes and offensive-rebound opportunities.
However, the 6-foot Evans doesn’t finish that well at the rim – creating a major question about how he’ll translate to the NBA. The bigger defenders in the paint might limit his kickout passes, too.
His size also presents major problems defensively, though a 6-foot-4 wingspan at least helps.
Evans is good enough on jumpers to keep defenses honest, and at Oklahoma State, he had to create so much for himself. It’d be interesting to see whether limiting his burden improves his efficiency or whether his helpfulness is limited to having the ball in his hands.
My guess is the latter, and I’m unconvinced he’s good enough to demand such a role in the NBA. But the possibility is strong enough that I’d be excited about rolling the dice on him in the second round.
The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.
We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective – Collective Bargaining Agreement.
To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation – let alone something that qualifies as both.
Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.
hat tip: reddit user cjsplash
Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.
As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.
Duke announced Tatum’s decision.
Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?
Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.