Russell Westbrook joins Team Anti-Long 2s

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Russell Westbrook is shooting 3-pointers more than ever.

Per game, per minute or as a percentage of all his shots – Westbrook is taking 3s at a career-high clip by a fairly wide margin.

But he’s barely attempting more jumpers than usual.

Westbrook is taking 47 percent of his shots from at least 15 feet, up slightly 42 percent each of the last two seasons.

The biggest difference comes in the distribution of those long jumpers.

On shots from at least 15 feet, 56 percent of Westbrook’s attempts are 3-pointers. That was 47 percent last year, 36 percent the year before and 23 percent the year prior.

Simply, Westbrook is playing smarter. Via Royce Young of CBSSports.com:

“There’s no need to take long 2s,” Westbrook told CBSSports.com before Sunday’s game against the Magic. “If you’re going to take a [long] 2, you might as well take a step back and shoot a 3.”

Has the Thunder front office or coaching staff — a very analytically driven organization — consulted Westbrook on that front?

“Nah not really, just something I’ve learned,” he said. “It’s a better percentage if you just back up a step or if you go in a step instead of taking a long 2. It’s a bad shot.”

Westbrook actually makes a higher percentage of his 2s outside 15 feet than his 3s, 40 percent to 30 percent. But because 3-pointers are worth an extra point per make, his 3s generate more points per shot than his long 2s, .91 to .80

Plus, when Westrbook takes an extra step back, Kevin Durant has more space to operate.

This isn’t rocket science, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Westbrook gets it. Really, the wonder is why more players don’t.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: