Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors

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.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.