Balls-Eye: The Extremely Frustrated Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

How would it feel like gearing up the team for dominance yet ended up as a bulldozer running out of gas every single time?

If there’d be a superstar in despair right now this season, it is definitely Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Imagine teaming up with another two bigtime players and ended up being not so explosive so far.
OKC is only plus 3 in terms of win-loss record and is swamped several times. Running losing streaks and just popped arbitrary victories which aren’t that soundly for threat to ignite. In fact, they are in a 0 – 2 loss recently against Phoenix Suns followed by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Of the three (George, Melo and Westbrook) Why is Westbrook the most frustrated?
Of course he still has grudges way back when Kevin Durant left him behind to join the rising Warriors and earned his 1st championship. Westbrook knows he could not vanquish the Warriors alone but when Melo and George were traded, he somehow see a ray of hope, but turned out to be a false hope instead.
Melo’s getting old while George of course isn’t like as he was before after recovery from a nasty leg injury. Maybe Westbrook expected too much from this guys but it turned out that two heads aren’t better than one at least at this case. KD couldn’t be replaced even by two skilled players.
It’s just disappointing for Westbrook for he sacrifices some playing time and possessions for these guys to shine and lift the team but it turned out to be inefficient. Westbrook could not get the results he wanted at least for now.
His extreme frustration was most noticeable after the Blazers game when he directly went to the dug out without a word.

But so far, Melo and George are scoring well. Meli had 19 and George had 22 against the Blazers. It is the other guys of OKC who fails to produce brought by the presence of two big star addition.

That is the their difference as compared to the Warriors. The sparks were completely extinguished with the addition of two new power sources for OKC while with the Dubs, the newly burning fire even hastened the ignitions of the small ones surrounding it. KD’s departure left OKC in a huge shadow with not enough light for them to find their way back just yet.

Russell Westbrook: Winning the Championship is the Best Way to Keep Paul George

Paul George to the Lakers

All throughout the first three months of the 2017-2018 season, this has been the storyline involving Paul George who was surprisingly traded by the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the off-season. While playing alongside reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony seems to be a good position for PG13,  the trade rumors won’t simply die especially after the Thunder’s 6-game winning streak got snapped and just like that, they are on a 2-game slide heading into their match-up against none other than the Los Angeles Lakers- the potential next destination of Paul George. 
Despite their struggles, the Thunder have improved to 20-17 in the season which puts them in 5th place in the Western Conference. Yes, this is the same team which used to sit at the near bottom of the standings in the West during the early moments of the season and they are now becoming the team that they are supposed to be: a super team, right?  However, despite coming into the game against the Lakers winning 7 of their last 10 games, their success won’t cut the rumors out.
According to Russell Westbrook, there’s one simple way for the Thunder to make sure that Paul George stays even after this season: win the NBA championship this season. And he isn’t wrong in that part. Assuming that Paul George won’t be traded this season,  improving the team in time for the playoffs must be the top priority for the Thunder because Russel Westbrook has said that he won’t be making any sales pitch to lure Paul George to stay in Oklahoma. 
Fortunately for the Thunder, Paul George is focused on winning games for Oklahoma, for now. He indicated that he didn’t have any regret in saying that he desired to play or his home city, Los Angeles but he is also grateful for the opportunity to play alongside talented guys like Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook- adding that they have the potential firepower to challenge for a championship. Well, Paul George isn’t wrong in that part either. 

Conclusion

The Thunder should easily win against the Lakers because Lonzo Ball is still out and the Lakers are still losing it, again. But, can the Thunder actually dethrone the Golden State Warriors should both squads meet in the Western Conference Finals? Firepower-wise, both squads are equal. Chemistry-wise? The Warriors have the edge. 
Question: Will the Thunder be able to keep PG13 ?
Prediction: Paul George will be wearing the Purple and Gold. The only question is WHEN.

NBA in 2018: Questions that Need Answers

Lebron James i the NBA 2018

After a stunning pre-season which rocked the season, there are things that we are looking forward to in 2018

While there’s no question that this year’s pre-season was one of the wildest in recent memory due to the various super teams that were assembled plus the arrival of some of the promising rookies, 2018 should present the answers to the questions most of us asked prior to the start of the regular season and below are just some of the questions:

  1. Will Golden State repeat as champions?
    This is probably the most obvious question everyone asked after the Warriors successfully reclaimed the NBA championship from the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the super-trio of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson still intact to this point in time, many were predicting another dominant season for the Warriors. However, numerous injuries have hit the Warriors during the first two months of the season and the fact that the Houston Rockets have started the season on fire had many questioning the Warriors’ dominance. In fact, many fans are now saying that this is the weakest the Warriors have become over the course of the 3 seasons. Sure, they are back atop the Western Conference but can they repeat as champions? That’s a different story, folks.  
  2. Will OKC make it work?
    One of the stories that rocked the NBA the most was when the Oklahoma City Thunder assembled an on-paper mighty super trio of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George after getting the latter two from separate trades. On paper, this trio can almost beat any super team but the problem is, they haven’t been the team they are meant to be. Until now. Heading into their first game of 2018, the Thunder have won 8 of their last 10 games with a 20-16 record which puts them in 5th place in the West. While the Thunder have been better than they were in November, can they actually keep only winning and make a championship team out of this? We’ll be watching, OKC.
  3. Will Lonzo Ball become the best rookie in history?
    Lonzo Ball was one of the most-hyped rookies in history ever since LeBron James’ pre-draft days. After being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers as the number two pick, many fans began saying that Lonzo Ball will bring the Lakers back to the Finals. As this point in time, this pundit on wheels is very much disappointed with Lonzo Ball’s performance because he is being outplayed by his own teammate, Kyle Kuzma, who is the 27thy pick in the 2017 Draft. Lonzo is still clanking most of his shots, especially from the three-point line. Will he improve? The season’s still long so there’s still plenty of time. Rookie of the Year material? Nope. 
  4. Where will LeBron James take his talents next?
    This is probably one of the most nagging questions this year even before the start of the season. There were many speculations as to where His Majesty will establish his new kingdom come July of next year. One prominent destination where LeBron could land is the Lakers where he will be joining the young core that includes Lonzo Ball. Or, he could join Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia. Or what about Houston? The possibilities are limitless. Or, he could remain in Cleveland depending on how far will the Cavaliers go in the playoffs. 

Conclusion

One thing is certain. All of the questions above and more will be answered slowly as 2018 begins unfolding itself soon. Mind you, folks. The trade deadline is almost at hand.Remember those trade rumors? They may make noise anew come January. 

Happy New Year, everyone. 

Slowly but Surely: The Thunder are Starting to Gain Ground

They are on a 6-game winning streak after beating the Toronto Raptors.

They started on the wrong foot, terribly. They stumbled near the bottom of the Western Conference and even lost to some of the worst teams in the NBA. Many fans were beginning to question the ability of Russell Westbrook to play with his two superstar teammates. Then, the “trade Paul George” rumors came out of nowhere. It seems back then that everything was beginning to fall apart for the Oklahoma City Thunder despite having Carmelo Anthony and Paul George on board.
Then, things began to brighten for the Thunder. They first defeated the formerly league-leading Houston Rockets and continued on their winning streak after beating one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors.

Question: Is this a sign that the Thunder are becoming the team everyone was talking about when their Big 3 was first assembled?

That’s still up for a debate but if anything, the Thunder have finally figured out how to play with each other. Russell Westbrook has been playing like his MVP self during their winning streak. They may be sitting in 21st place in the league in terms of points per game but defensively, they are the third-best team in terms of limiting their opponents’ production, forcing opponents to only 100 points per game. They are the best teams in steals per game, averaging 10 snatches per night. Additionally, they are forcing 16 turnovers per game- also a league’s best. 

Conclusion

While the Thunder were able to beat an elite team in the Rockets, both teams are still due for two more games this season and mind you, folks, Chris Paul wasn’t in uniform when his team lost. Clint Capela just sustained an orbital fracture which is said to be putting him out of basketball action for two games.
Will the Thunder continue their streak? That’s up to them. After all, they should be challenging the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the West. But given the fact that they have already made the climb up to 5th place owing to their 20-15 record, they are only 8 games behind the Warriors. They only need to maintain their consistency and who knows, we might actually see them challenging the Rockets and the Warriors like they were made to do in the first place. 

Balls-Eye: Will LeBron Pass Westbrook on Triple Double Record?

Russell Westbrook and LeBron James

With the Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent win against the Utah Jazz, LeBron James bagged his 60th triple-double performance of his career to break the tie with Larry Bird.
29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the historical tiebreaker against a hall of famer. But can he chase Russell Westbrook and break his record this season?

Westbrook currently has 89 ranking at number 4 for the most triple-double.
It is much easier to win a game than to explode with a triple-double. It is not usual in every single game to have even just a single player on the winning side to play up to that intensity. In short, it isn’t something we see every day.
LeBron is considered to be the best player in the world but is way behind Westbrook in terms of such exceptional performance. The question is:
Can he slip past Westbrook within this season?

Well, it is quite hard but it is not impossible. OKC’s Triple threat slowed down Westbrook for he isn’t the only one doing huge in the offense. His individual task of scoring huge was split into smaller pieces with the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Hence, Russell has a lower chance to have triple-double performances every game. A double-double is slowly being typical of Russell Westbrook but still a triple-double game is a different story.
With Russell Westbrook being slowed down, does LeBron have enough time to chase and surpass him?
For a player like LeBron nothing’s impossible. But bear in mind that if Westbrook is slowed down due to addition of superstars on OKC, it may have the same effect for LeBron as Cavs are undeniably more saturated with big players than OKC is.
Another thing is that its not as though Westbrook’s record will remain static for the rest of the season. He may have less chances of performing huge but possibilities aren’t absolutely zero.

Conclusion

LeBron may pass Westbrook but this season alone won’t be enough time to do so. 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: How Can OKC Save their Season?

Having 3 stars hasn’t worked well for the Thunder. So far.

Just in case you haven’t noticed or you probably don’t want to notice because you’re a Thunder fan, the Oklahoma City Thunder, yes, the team that currently has Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, has been struggling as of late. That’s despite the fact that they were able to take the win against the Indiana Pacers in Paul George’s first game against his former team.
While their win against the Pacers improved their record to 13-14 which puts them into 8th place in the Western Conference, that doesn’t change the fact that the Thunder have been inconsistent as they’ve only won half of their last 10 games when in fact, with the line-up that they have right now, they should be winning more games and challenging the likes of the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets for the top spot. Instead, the Thunder have found themselves lagging behind in the bottom of the top 8.
One may probably ask: What is wrong with this OKC team? Is having 3 superstars doing more harm than good?
To be fair, this isn’t the first time the Thunder have 3 stars on their team. Just a few years back, Russell Westbrook had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Serge Ibaka on the same team. That team went as far as the NBA Finals back in 2011 only to lose in 5 games against the Miami Heat of LeBron James, Dwayne and Chris Bosh.
So what is wrong with the Thunder nowadays?
One of the noticeable reasons why the Thunder aren’t successful as they should be on paper is the fact that both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George aren’t getting the same volume of touches that they were getting before coming to Oklahoma City. Anthony is averaging 63 touches per game while George is norming 56  touches per game. Russell Westbrook on the other hand, averages 94 touches. Lesser touches for Anthony and George mean fewer chances of them getting into their respective rhythm. And that was the same problem the Heat faced when LeBron and Bosh first came on board. But, that Miami Heat team was better than the OKC team than we are seeing today.
So how can Oklahoma turn things around?
For Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to be able to do what they used to do for the previous teams, the Thunder must now find a way to work around an offense that will be able to generate a higher volume of touches for both forwards.
Another thing that can help OKC get back into their winning form is this: Russell Westbrook should play his own game and lessen his tendency to get the two stars involved in their offense. While Westbrook has been known as a creative passer, in those games that the Thunder have won this season, Westbrook was playing exactly like the MVP he was last season.

Conclusion

This pundit on wheels isn’t saying that the Thunder of last season was a better team compared to the Thunder team of today. While the Thunder still have the luxury of having the time to fix their problems, they might want to move quickly. They are in the 8th spot right now but tougher games are still ahead. If they want to make a deep run into the playoffs, then do the things that can help them win more games. Otherwise, they’re missing the whole point of assembling their own Big 3. 

Fixing the OKC Situation: Trade Paul George?

Having three stars isn’t helping the Thunder right now

While there’s no doubt that having three or more superstars on your team can instantly turn any struggling team into a championship contender, it doesn’t work that way all the time. 
A perfect example of this was when Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joined Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the Lakers a few years back. Injury and chemistry issues struck the team during that one season that they were together. Although that team made the playoffs, they were a total disappointment.
Heading into the current NBA season, many were surprised and shocked that the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to pull off two blockbuster trades that enable them to put Carmelo Anthony and Paul George alongside reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook. 
While this trio of stars is already enough to challenge the Golden State Warriors, this hasn’t been the case right now as the Thunder have lost 5 of their last 10 games which put them at a 12-14 record which essentially puts them outside of the playoff picture.
Although the Thunder have a few nice games that they have won over the course of the first few months of the regular season, they aren’t in sync just yet. They are trying to figure out how to play with one another. Although they are among the league’s best defensive teams, Oklahoma has yet to display its full offensive power. Sure, they’ve already defeated Warriors earlier this season but they’ve also lost games to some of the league’s worst teams and that’s not how a super team supposed to play.
So what can the Thunder do to turn this ugly season around?
Firing Billy Donovan as head coach will not have an immediate effect on the Thunder so they can erase that option, for now. And so will trading one of the three stars. However, we all know that even last season, Paul George has already indicated that he intends to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in the future. And ye, the Indiana Pacers delt PG13 to the Thunder.
Having said that, the Thunder can trade Paul George to the Lakers in exchange for Julius Randle, Luol Deng and the Lakers’ draft pick for 2020. Why Julius Randle and Luol Deng?
There have been many speculations that the Lakers are trying to move both Randle and Deng with Randle appearing to be unhappy with his decreased role. Assuming that this trade will materialize, the Lakers will gain more than what they will be losing. And, the Thunder will gain a young and promising forward and a veteran.

Conclusion

Trading Paul George who is averaging 20 points and 5 rebounds this season will be a huge gamble for Oklahoma but the truth is, they’ve already gambled when they assembled their own Big 3 and look where it got them. The rest of the league is laughing at them. A trade can help start turning things around for the Thunder. It doesn’t have to be Paul George but it has to be one of the three stars. 

Should OKC Fire Billy Donovan for Struggles?

The Thunder are 8-12 in the season despite having a Big 3

Coming into their 2nd season in the post-Kevin Durant era, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked like a team who are about wreck havoc in the league after landing Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in two separate deals that assembled another Big 3 in the Western Conference alongside Russell Westbrook.
However, things haven’t been well for the Thunder after 20  games into the current season as they fell to 8-12 which ties them for the 10th and 11th places with the Los Angeles Lakers. And despite the amount of talent that this team has, the Thunder are currently on a 3-game losing streak after dropping another game against the Orlando Magic, 121-108.
The question looms now: Should the Thunder smash panic button and fire Billy Donovan?
While it’s unfair for the fans of the Thunder to blame Billy Donovan, alone, for the struggles of their team, if the front office wants to turn things around and prevent making themselves become the league’s laughingstock, change must be done. And it should start from the top. Now, this pundit on wheels isn’t saying that Billy Donovan should be fired. But, if you look at the numbers offensively, the Thunder are 23rd in the league in points per game, and 27th in the league in field goal percentage. And that’s pretty bad for a team that has three players who are known as heavy scorers.

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Defensively, Oklahoma ranks number 2 in the league in terms of limiting the opposing team’s output. However, will that be enough to keep Billy Donovan at the helm?

Conclusion

Firing Billy Donovan MIGHT be the first step towards turning things around in Oklahoma. While success doesn’t happen overnight, the Thunder must realize that they want to fully-utilize their Big 3, they will have to find a coach who can make 3 stars work together as one, solid unit. And in their 20 games, so far, Billy Donovan hasn’t done that, yet. 

By the Numbers: OKC’s Big 3 Outpower GSW’s Super Trio

Westbrook with another near triple-double as the Thunder win in Durant’s return

Russell Westbrook scored a victory over his former teammate.

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant used to be one of the most exciting and probably among the best dynamic duos the NBA has ever seen during their days together with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, they had the chance to dethrone the Golden State Warriors but the Thunder blew a 3-1 series lead in the Western  Conference Finals two seasons ago. And that was the last time the NBA saw Westbrook and Durant in the same uniform outside of the All-Star Game.
Since then, the duo has been viewed as archnemesis as trash talks mired all of the games between the Thunder and the Warriors and this game was no different.
Despite their inconsistencies which made them a laughingstock for failing to win despite having their own Big 3, the Oklahoma City Thunder let the numbers do the talking for them as they scored a win over the defending champions, Golden State Warriors, 108-91  in a game that was mired by boos and trash-talking between star players.
Take away the boos. Take away the emotions. Take away all of those nonsense trash talking. Let’s take a look at the big numbers that propelled the Thunder to beat the Warriors:

OKC’s Big 3 Dominated

Now, this is something we all have been expecting of the Big 3 of Oklahoma especially after landing Paul George and Carmelo in two separate trades that shook the entire NBA. And not.
Against one of the top teams in the West, Russell Westbrook recorded 34 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists plus 4 steals. Paul George had 20 points and 11 rebounds while  Carmelo Anthony had 22 points and 5 boards.
One may ask: Where were they during the early goings of the season?

Defend. And Run

Oklahoma had 15 steals. They forced the Warriors to commit 22 turnovers. And they were able to run on the break which produced 33 fastbreak points. The Thunder also had a 50-39 advantage on the rebounding department. Now that’s how you play like a super team and that’s you beat a super team.

Conclusion

While this is only the first of the 4 meetings between the two teams this season,  the Thunder needed a victory as big as this one because whether we like it or not, they are failing expectations. Big expectations. As for the Warriors, one bad game doesn’t change anything at all. One bad game doesn’t mean that they can no longer dominate the West. After all, the West is still for the Warriors to dominate, right?

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Paul George is Headed for LA Next Season

It’s unlikely that Oklahoma will keep PG13 after this season

Paul George Oklahoma Thunder
Paul George’s 42 points against the Clippers may not be enough for his team to keep him. 
There was no doubt in everyone’s mind that from the moment Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined forces with Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder would have the firepower and more talent to take on the Houston Rockets or even the defending champions, Golden State Warriors come the playoffs. 
In fact, most people were saying back then that with their newest Big 3 in the post-Kevin Durant era, the Thunder can now contend for a championship against the Cleveland Cavaliers- should both teams make it that far come June of next year. It’s really nice to dream about winning championships with this kind of a team and it seems that OKC fans may have to wait much longer before their team makes that dream into a reality. Why?
Here’s why.
Sure, the Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday, 120-111. Sure, Paul George has played his best game yet with Oklahoma, scoring 42 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Sure, the Thunder rank 3rd in the league in terms of limiting their opponents’ total points in a game, only allowing their opponents to 98 points on the average. 
But these don’t outweigh the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder are lagging behind in the Western Conference as they are standing with a record at 5-7- good for 10th place in the West. Is that how a team with a talented Big 3 supposed to perform?
Nope!


But let’s just focus on one specific player: Paul George. Through 12 games into the 2017-2018 regular season, below are his averages:

  • 21 points (leads the team)
  • 5 rebounds
  • 2 assists
  • 2.58 steals (leads the NBA)
Now, those are good averages especially for a player who sustained a massively gross injury a few years back. And #13 is playing like the same player he was once during his stints with the Indiana Pacers before he sustained that injury while preparing to play for Team USA. His 42 points against the Clippers is one reminder that he has still more than left in his tank. 
However, let’s keep in mind that the deal that sent PG13 from Indiana to Oklahoma came as a surprise to the majority of the NBA fans as Oklahoma was not the destination everyone had thought where George would play this season. Nope! Even before the end of last season, Paul George has repeatedly stated that he intended to play for the Los Angeles Lakers come free agency 2018. 
But instead, he was traded to Oklahoma.
Now here’s the catchy part: The Thunder can only afford to keep either Carmelo Anthony OR Paul George. They cannot keep both beyond this season. Why? Even if both players want to come back next season, Anthony and George have player options for next season which are amounting to 27 million US Dollars and 20 million US Dollars respectively which means the Thunder will have to pay a big amount of luxury tax assuming they want to keep both players. 

Conclusion

Let’s just assume that either the Thunder choose to stick with Carmelo Anthony or, Paul George decides to leave after 1 season alongside Anthony and Russell Westbrook. Where is he heading next? One possible: Hollywood to play ball with Lonzo Ball and probably, LeBron James?

By the Numbers: Thunder Drop Third Straight, Loses to Sacramento

Another super team loses to another bad team

The Kings were limited to 10 points in the first quarter but came back and won the game.

When you see a team with Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George playing together, what do you expect? A win. Almost every single game. 
Why? All three of them have the capability to score 40 to 50 points at ease. Russell Westbrook alone, can notch a triple-double almost single night as we saw last season which enabled him to win his first MVP award.
So technically speaking, the Oklahoma City Thunder is a super team. Or are they?
Right after the first quarter when Sacramento only managed to score 10 points, they roared back before halftime and took the lead for good. And when the Thunder were making a late push, the Kings were able to hold on as they finally scored their second victory of the season after beating the Thunder, 94-86. 
So what happened? Below are the numbers:

Too Many Missed Shots

  • Carmelo Anthony: 4 of 17 
  • Paul Geroge: 4 of 16
  • Russell Westbrook: 7 of 21
If you want a simple explanation as to why the Thunder lost to the worst team in the Western Conference, just look at how horrible their field goal shooting was. Against the Kings, the Thunder only made 29 of their 86 field goal attempts- that’s a 33% field goal shooting, folks.
They were also miserable from beyond the three-point line as Oklahoma City only hit 10 of their 27 attempts from deep. Both Carmelo Anthony and Paul Geroge shot 3 of 9 from deep while Russell Westbrook went 2 of 8 from that area. 
In contrast, Sacramento shot 46% from the field, made 37% of their attempts from long distance and, 91% of their free throws.

More Points from Turnovers

Sure, the Kings had 23 turnovers compared to OKC’s 17 but the Kings were more aggressive in turning those Thunder turnovers into points as they held a 19-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Mind you, the Thunder were uncharacteristically called for 3 shot clock violations in the third quarter alone. All in all, Russell Westbrook had 7 of the Thunder’s 17 turnovers. He’s the MVP, right?

Conclusion

With a record stands at 4-6 which puts them at 12th place in the West, this is something that we don’t expect from a team that has three All-Star caliber players in their starting line up. While chemistry might be the issue for the Thunder’s early struggles, it’s still early for the rest of the league to call the team-up a bust but Oklahoma needs to work things out from their end because if not, it might cause Billy Donovan his job.  

By the Numbers: Irving Leads Boston to Win Against OKC’s Big 3

The Celtics take advantage of the struggles of Oklahoma’s stars

Kyrie Irving Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving had a big second half against the Thunder
Sure. The Oklahoma City Thunder instantly became a super team when they successfully received Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in two separate deals during the buys and exciting off season that rocked the NBA. 
On the other side, Kyrie Irving’s trade request was granted as he was sent by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics. 
While that trade may have been one-sided considering the number of players that Celtics lost which included Isaiah Thomas, look at where the Cavs are right now. Then look at where the Celtics are after their game against the Thunder. 
Who has the better standing as of the moment?
As it turned out, the trade that sent Irving to the Celtics has been benefiting Boston more than it’s benefiting the Cavs as Boston convincingly beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 101-94 in a game between two teams that have been reloaded prior to the beginning of the season.
 And as it turned out, having 3 stars on your starting line-up doesn’t automatically you can win every single game because if one star struggles and so do  the other two, you are doomed and that’s exactly what the Thunder experienced as below are the numbers that will explain to you how the Celtics won:

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Shutting Down the Big 3 of Oklahoma: Trio Combined for 38 Misses

  • Russell Westbrook went 7 of 20 for 19 points
  • Paul George went 9 of 20 for 25 points
  • Carmelo Anthony went 3 of 17 for 10 points
If you want a simple explanation as to why Oklahoma got its rears kicked horribly, just look at the field goal shooting of their trio of stars. 
Throughout the game, the defense of the Celtics continuously frustrated Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George as they combined for 38 misses- 38 out of the 52 shots that Oklahoma missed in the entire game. 
In addition to this, Westbrook and company were also shooting bricks from beyond the three-point line. The reigning MVP only nailed 3 of his 7 attempts from deep. Paul George also hit 3 from deep but took 10 shots. Carmelo Anthony was the sorriest of the three, missing all 5 of his shots from outside. 

Both Teams hit 13 Threes Apiece: Only One Shot Better

  • Oklahoma: 13 of 35
  • Boston: 13 of 28
Given the fact that Westbrook, George and Anthony are known as heavy shot takers meaning they have the tendency to take as many shots as they can, the Celtics did a good job in making sure that the trio missed most of their opportunities especially from outside- all while also making sure that they were scoring efficiently form their end. 
By the end of the night, both squads ended up 13 threes apiece but, with the Celtics shooting better from rainbow distance. How good? Al Horford, who had 20 points, made all 4 of his three-point attempts while rookie Jayson Tatum hit 2 long-distance bombs, en route to a 13-point outing. Irving, for his part, had 3 made threes on 7 attempts.

Another All-Around Performance from #11

Gordon Hayward can take all the time he needs to recover from the injury he sustained during the Celtics’ opening night loss against the Cavs because as it is, the Celtics are just doing fine without him as evident by their 7-2 standing after beating a loaded Oklahoma team. Kyrie Irving has been playing great basketball as of late and his performance against the Thunder is no surprise at all
25 points
10 of 22 field goal shooting
5 rebounds
6 assists 
2 steals 
1 block
34 minutes
What could you possibly ask for? That’s classic Kyrie Irving for you, folks.

Conclusion

The win improved Boston to 7-2, the best record in the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season while the Thunder dropped to 10th place in the West, at 4-4. 
While chemistry can play a role in the struggles of the Thunder, chemistry seems not to be a problem for the Celtics as Kyrie Irving found no difficulty in blending well with his new team. 
Why?  The Celtics are on a roll as we speak, winning 7-game winning streak after losing their first two games to open the regular season. 

Ball Scrutiny: OKC Triple Threat Season Forecast

#0 Russell Westbrook of OKC
Oklahoma City Thunder once nearly destroyed the defending Champs Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals 2 years ago. That was when Kevin Durant was working along with Russell Westbrook. Now the next chapter for them has unfolded, Rusell Westbrook will try to shut down the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, which Kevin Durant is now in. Westbrook along with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George bolstered the Thunder and became a major blockage on every team’s way to the NBA title this season.

Lightning strikes first before the thunder is heard

With the fast-paced gameplay of Russell Westbrook, he’ll struck every opponent like a lightning especially now that he is not alone to carry the whole team.  OKC’s transition plays would become even smoother with more accurate players to finish any play Westbrook may dish out.
Despite the shameful lost against Melbourne United due to the poor performance of the said killer trio, it is not a sign of the bad team performance. OKC still managed to give their key players some open looks, hence there is a good play execution, it’s just their finishers couldn’t connect to
deliver the basket and finish the play.

Less Frequent Triple Double

Westbrook is known to be a player who usually explodes with a triple-double performance in most of his games. This season it might not be seen frequently as it was before. It isn’t bad after all. An offense with scattered producers leads to better games for the team. A defense would not focus on a single man but will be diverted in every direction, thus decreasing its solidity and intensity, making it more penetrable.

Western Conference Conqueror

The possibility of taking down the Super Team and end their era before it starts isn’t a matter of IF but is now a matter of when. When? When this two teams clash at the Western Conference Finals. It would be an unimaginable mayhem for vengeance or for a continuous regime. Carmelo, Russell and Paul added up to the roughness of the western road to the finals. The warriors would not take a walk in the park. OKC on GSW will be the best playoffs of the season. 

Poternial MVP Award of 2017-18 NBA Season? One Dark Horse but LeBron is not on the List

Open Court gave their insights on who they think will be the MVP this NBA season

2017-18 NBA MVP Candidates

In the age of super teams, what would it take to be a super player and the MVP?

Last year, Russel Westbrook answered the question with a performance that not a lot of players think would be broken. Westbrook surpassed Oscar Robertson’s record and became the new triple double king averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. This was the stats of the MVP last year but what does MVP really mean and what are the criteria behind it? 
Aside from getting an all-around great basketball game, different people may have different definitions of an MVP. Even basketball legends like Shaq, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley, Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Scott have their different opinions. Let’s check in with their prediction of who will be the MVP for this upcoming season.

James Harden Charles Barkley 
Sir Charles believes that  James Harden will be the MVP this season and believes that Harden has made the most amazing transformation in the NBA and has definitely become the best point guard in the NBA. He could have been the MVP without Westbrook’s triple-double. 
Kawhi Leonard – Dennis Scott- Shaq O’Neal – Isiah Thomas
Shaq thinks that Kawhi Leonard has something to prove and without the injury, Spurs would have done better. Dennis Scott seconded the motion by saying that Kawhii has improved a lot and is the best two-way player in the league. Isiah Thomas could not have agreed less as he thinks he also was the best player last year. 
Kyrie IrvingKevin Mchale
Kevin McHale chooses Kyrie, a dark horse. He looks like he has a little reservation with his answer but just like Kawhi, Irving with his new home, has something to prove as well and according to Kevin McHale he will do a lot better in shooting and passing this year. 
Pow’s Prediction
Aside from these three players, there are certainly a lot more great basketball players in the league that could potentially win the MVP and I could not believe that they left out the reigning MVP in the conversation and the greatest basketball player today in LeBron James. I think the two, regardless of who they are playing with should still be part of the conversation.  Golden State Warriors is a different story as they all have accepted a leveled role within the team but with the case of OKC and Cavs, LBJ and Westbrook will still be the main man and the go-to guy.  I am not picking the two to be the MVP this year but they will always be part of that conversation. 
Kawhi Leonard and James Harden looks to be the most likely to win because they will have more chances of being the man on the court since no one else will or can. So I guess it could be between these two players.  

Thunder Trio Suddenly Makes them a Heavy Championship Contender, But They are Not Done Yet

Crowded West Became Tougher with Thunders new Trio

Here’s your first look at Carmelo Anthony in his Thunder uniform:
Russel Westbrook (31.6), Paul George (23.7), Carmelo Anthony (22.4), these are the point averages of these players last season. Put them together and you got about 77 points just within these three players. It is a scary thought if you think about it and now that it will happen this season, the Thunders is just about to go struck some heavy lightning this season that will skew the association again and make the western conference even tougher than ever.
OKC, however, may not be done yet as they are also in the running to get the service of veteran star Dwyane Wade and to put things in perspective.  With the already combined 77 points of the current big three, adding Dwyane Wade in the mix would make a total of 96 points. That’s crazy.
We know that these productions may not actually be the same playing with a new team as most of these players were used to be the focal point of the offense with their former teams, the idea of putting four offensive players in their prime is somewhat just as chilling and risky as ever.
A team doesn’t win with offense, it only sells tickets, it’s defense that wins championships.
But the OKC Thunder are going all in this season as they make one risky and bold move after another giving Westbrook enough ammunition to compete with today’s super teams heavy NBA season.

WatchNBA Players React to Carmelo Anthony Trade to the Thunder

3 Benefits of the Carmelo Anthony Trade

How will OKC benefit from getting Melo?

Carmelo Anthony’s move to OKC will surely affect the West.
When the news regarding the completion of trade which sent Carmelo Anthony from the New York to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott along with a future draft pick, a lot of people were surprised that the Thunder were able to receive a player of Anthony’s calibre for players like Kanter who averaged 14 points per game and McDermott who only averaged 6 points per game last season.

While many people thought that Carmelo’s age has something to do with it, we all know that he can still score 40 or 50 at any given game. In fact, Oklahoma wasn’t in the talks during the early stages of the current off-season as they have already traded for Paul George and one of Carmelo’s rumored destinations was the Houston Rockets. Of course, there were some whispers involving the possibility of Carmelo joining LeBron James in Cleveland. None of those rumors came true. ‘Melo to Oklahoma it is!

Now that the deal has been completed, let’s list down the 3 main benefits of the said deal:

1. Another Superstar

Of course! Another superstar to join reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and newcomer Paul George. Having Carmelo Anthony on board will give Coach Billy Donovan another legitimate scorer on his team as Anthony, still, one of the league’s elite scorers, averaged 22 points per during the 2016-2017 season. Russell Westbrook, for one, will have another new superstar teammate to pass the ball to especially come crucial moments of the game. While the trio has yet to play a game together, many have been predicting that this new Big 3 in the West will have the firepower to challenge the Golden State  Warriors of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and of course, Kevin Durant.

2. Increases OKC’s Chances of Keeping Paul George

Paul George has already made it known to the public that he intends to play for the Los Angeles Lakers next season before the Thunder made the move which got them George from the Indiana Pacers to start off a very exciting off-season. And now that he has another superstar teammate to play with, if you are Paul George, would you still consider playing for the Lakers who are still undergoing rebuilding process?

Whether he admits it or not, Paul George himself knows that it’s already difficult to pass the opportunity to play alongside the reigning MVP and playing alongside ‘Melo will have a dampening effect on his desire to play for the Lakers- that if, he still desires it. 

3. Become a Threat to the Warriors

When Paul George was traded to OKC, most NBA fans still think that the move won’t transform OKC into a legitimate threat to the Warriors or at the very least, to the San Antonio Spurs. That mentality changed when the news of Carmelo’s trade to OKC broke. Here now stands, another Big 3 in the already loaded Western Conference.

Sure, the Thunder have no true deadly shooter like Curry and Thompson but both ‘Melo and Paul George can take turns in defending Durant and in fact, if we’re going to look back at last season, both ‘Melo and George average more defensive and offensive rebounds per game than Durant. If they can get more rebounds, they can throw outlet passes to Westbrook for quick points at the offensive end.

As mentioned, the trio of Westbrook, George and ‘Melo has yet to play a single NBA game together so none of us can say for now if the trade was worth it because no matter how good the players are– if they don’t learn to blend with one another and more importantly, to trust each other, then the trade may been nothing but for naught. 

Stick to Basketball! Russel Westbrook Cant Stop Singing in Spanish

Russel Westbrook having some time off and taking advantage of the off season.
Westbrook was seen having fun singing and dancing in Spanish and while we were not that impressed it’s still something worth watching. Besides, it’s as funny as hell.
Watch Russell Westbrook singing in Spanish.
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2018 LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook Could Create a Super Team in LA or OKC!

LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, Just Imagine it!

We know that the 2017 free agency is just winding down but we could not help but think about the future.
If you think 2017 is crazy wait until 2018 free agency. There will be a lot of big names who will be available which includes DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid, Chris Paul, Jabari Parker, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge and of course the three superstars that I mentioned above.
There will be no shortage of quality players and teams are definitely preparing for next year to make a run for these game changing players. Speculations and rumors are already starting as the NBA world are about to brace another memorable year.

LeBron James has always been a target for any teams and OKC might just make a move to run after him to convince Paul George to stay in OKC.  The Thunders may have realized that they need to spend some money in order to get that elusive championship that they could have already gotten if they only found a way how to retain James Harden and Kevin Durant.
It’s always hard to retain multiple superstars in one team but the Warriors have found a way to make that happen and is enjoying the fruit of their labor by winning another championship.
Many teams are looking to create their own version of super teams and Lakers could also be one of them. Recently acquiring highly touted point guard Lonzo Ball, the Lakers next year could be a super team as they are almost sure to sign Paul George who already gave Lakers a commitment that he will sign with them after a year with OKC.  There are also reports that LeBron James team is talking to the Lakers management for a potential move next year, and while we are at it, Russell Westbrook who plays college at UCLA may join in the fun to ultimately create the super team of all super teams.
While these would require a lot of work, it is not far from reality as teams are becoming more and more creative on how they approach the contract of players.
Do you think LeBron James will make a move next year?

Watch: Westbrook in Tears While Accepting the MVP Award

All of the finalists were deserving to win the MVP award.
James Harden and Kawhi Leonard are both worthy competitors but tonight the award went to the man who carried his team all by himself. Averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and  10.4 assists, Mr Triple Double could also be deserving to win the most improved player as he took on the challenge of filling up the big gap that was left behind by Kevin Durant.
Russel Westbrook was a player that gave it all he got on the court. His intensity is immeasurable and his athleticism and skills are that of an MVP.
Russel Westbrook is now the man of OKC and will continue to be the man for years.
Watch emotional Westbrook as he accepts the MVP award.

What Makes Russell Westbrook Legendary?

Russ has left a lot in the history of the NBA like no one has ever did in a long time. His triple double was just stuff that legends are made of and his tenacity in the game is unwavering. For 82 games, he has consistently created highlights after highlights and today we are going to have a peak of what could be an MVP year for the one and only Russel Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook just completed a historic campaign, finishing with the most triple-doubles in a season in NBA history (42). Watch his best work here. 

(courtesy: youtube/NBA)

Russell Westbrook vs James Harden on Facing Each Other on Round 1

MVP! MVP! MVP! These chants may be filling the stadium of the Thunders and Rockets in their first round battle.
Westbrook and Harden are the strongest candidates for the MVP this season and there is no doubt that they will try to outdo each other to prove their point.
Here’s what they have to say.

Russell Westbrook & James Harden talk about facing each other in Round 1 of the Playoffs. 

(courtesy: youtube/Basketball&More)

Harden and Westbrook for the MVP Conversation

There are a number of players to be considered as MVP this year but for us it’s just between the two former Oklahoma players. Who do you think would win the MVP?
Watch the video below by NBA Skyline.
00:06 – Are Westbrook’s recent achievements just random or is there something behind it all + his MVP case
02:08 – James Harden confident that HE is the MVP
04:28 – Russell right after cementing his name in history
09:02 – KD on losing his mind throughout his recovery

I’m lost for words this time, hard to come up with a description of what happened last night…
Russell Westbrook cemented his name in history whether you like the way he plays or not and let’s be honest we 
knew this was coming after the game in Phoenix where the Suns openly admitted to doing everything they could to bar him from achieving the record. 
In the end they did him a favor, getting a record and losing the game don’t do much for a player’s legacy (*cough*Booker*cough) and Russell knows that, that’s why he…well you know what happened next.

James Harden has been very cool with Westbrook’s achievements so far, but after being caught with some tough questions postgame – without wanting to go into too much detail – he confidently thinks that HE is the MVP and getting stats don’t mean anything unless you win. Luckily we get a Houston-OKC matchup in the first round of the playoffs, so we will get to see who can get the Ws.

Finishing the video off with some Durant footage from his pregame press conference – he talks about how frustrating it was to have basketball “taken away” from him and how he managed to get through it.

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Westbrook is Legendary! Watch His 42nd Triple Double this Season!

Hard to argue if Russel Westbrook is going to be the MVP this year, especially when he is recording legendary stats and erasing records.
Oscar Robertson had the most number of triple doubles at 41 for the longest time in the NBA but that was just surpassed by a new legend and the potential MVP for the 2016-2017 season.
Averaging 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists! Man oh man Russel Westbrook is just a monster this season. Thanks to the departure of KD?
Is he your MVP?