Tag Archives: Russell Westbrook

Triple Zeros: James Harden is Taking His Flowers

Triple Zeros

James Harden is Taking His Flowers

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook making NBA history, the sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves to Alex Rodriguez, and other NBA buzz. Then the attention switches to the NFL and the biggest games to watch over the first six weeks of the regular season, Tim Tebow getting yet another crack at this thing, and so much more!

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Chicago Bulls: It’s Clear This Team is Still a Work in Progress

Chicago Bears 2021 Schedule Breakdown: Ranking Every Game by Difficulty

The Chicago Bulls Still Control Their Own Destiny…Sort Of

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Triple Zeros: “They’re Making Their TikToks…”

Triple Zeros

“They’re Making Their TikToks…”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh sets expectations for the NBA Playoffs that start in less than two weeks, the players like Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook who have stepped up, and the state and future of his Chicago Bulls. Then, things switch over to the NFL and the sounds from the 2021 NFL Draft, the memo sent to teams regarding injuries, and Baltimore Ravens tackle Alejandro Villanueva taking shots at his former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates and head coach Mike Tomlin. All of that and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

NFC North 2021 NFL Draft Grades

Chicago Bears 2021 NFL Draft Review

Top-5 2021 NFL Draft Classes

NBA Teams Getting Hot Just in Time for the Playoffs

Former Chicago Bulls Heading to Playoffs a Tough Pill to Swallow

Everyone Wants the Chicago Bears to Ruin Justin Fields

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Triple Zeros: “Ah, That’s Interesting…”

Triple Zeros

“Ah, That’s Interesting…”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Russell Westbrook (again) and the surging Washington Wizards, how teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks are trending in the wrong direction, and the horrible night of injuries in the NBA. The focus then turns to the NFL as the Eagles are opting for a QB battle between Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco in camp, Tom Brady has a “get off my lawn” moment, and so much more!

2021 NFL Draft: Brevin Jordan Player Profile

The Washington Wizards Must Have Found Their Magic Spellbook

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Anchor | Apple

Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

The Washington Wizards Must Have Found Their Magic Spellbook

The Washington Wizards must have found some magic because they’ve been on a tear of late. Winners of seven of their last eight games, the once left-for-dead Wizards have turned things around after they stumbled coming out of the All-Star break. Washington lost their first five games and went 3-12 before this streak.

The Wizards Change Of Fortune Is No Magic Act

Impact Players

Everyone knows Bradley Beal is one of the best scorers in the NBA. Up until Stephen Curry dropped 40-plus in back-to-back games, Beal led the NBA in scoring.

It would be the second year in a row Beal finishes in the top two in scoring in the Association. Beal also missed the one game Washington lost in the aforementioned streak.

He averaged 27.4 PPG post-break but has averaged 29.7 points during the Wizards run. He also hasn’t done it all by himself.

Russell Westbrook might need to have an award created just for him to signify all the times he’s been written off in recent years. And while his numbers are certainly down on the year, his impact has not been.

Sitting on a 21.8/10.9/10.9 line, Westbrook is putting up 23.5/12.3/12.3 since the break has been at 21./13.5/13.1 during the recent string of wins. The most encouraging development might be his improved efficiency from deep.

He’s shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc on the season and 33 percent since the deadline. It’s a modest percentage but it’s a massive step up for Westbrook.

The “Other” Guys

Davis Bertans was a hot commodity on a watered-down free-agent market in an abbreviated offseason. He re-signed with the Wizards on a five-year deal after recording the best deep-shooting advanced metrics in the NBA.

The honeymoon didn’t last long though as Bertans averaged just over 11 points while shooting under 39 percent from outside.

Bertans, just like Beal and Westbrook, has been much better over his last seven games. He’s averaging 14.7 points and shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.

On the less glamorous end, Daniel Gafford is providing a very nice return on Washington’s investment. Since joining the Wiz, the former Chicago Bulls big man is averaging 11.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG; both up substantially from his time in Chicago and mostly thanks to more playing time.

But it’s his 2.0 blocks per game that have caught the most eyes.

That’s because, as the Bulls have struggled with their rim protection even with Gafford in the fold, he’s been rejecting some of the game’s most notable dunkers in DC. It’s a testament to his work ethic to turn what could be damaging to a young player into an opportunity.

Wizards Re-Discovered Magic Spellbook

Washington is currently 11th in the East, just outside of the play-in tournament. But they have one of the easiest remaining schedules, per Tankathon.com, and have six games remaining against four Eastern Conference opponents that are set to make the playoffs themselves.

This is the perfect situation for the Wizards to take advantage of and the best time for the Wizards to re-discover their magic. How long can they keep this up?

Triple Zeros: Easy Money Sniper on the Roof

Triple Zeros

Easy Money Sniper on the Roof

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Kevin Durant leaving Russell Westbrook off his list of his top-five teammates in favor of Serge Ibaka and reminds everyone of his warning about Nikola Jokic and the NBA MVP with Stephen Curry hot on his trail. Then things switch over to the NFL as Alex Smith walks away from the game on his own terms, Patrick Mahomes tells Tom Brady the G.O.A.T. discussion isn’t settled, and so much more!

Chicago Bulls Aggressiveness, Ball Movement Return in Wins

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Anchor | Apple

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Triple Zeros: He was “Seeing Ghosts”

Triple Zeros

He was “Seeing Ghosts”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about the Utah Jazz having to make an emergency landing. He also Rui Hachimura showing respect to Russell Westbrook and asks if Joel Embiid can catch Nikola Jokic for NBA MVP. Then, things shift over to the NFL as the Carolina Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, the Atlanta Falcons announced the 4th-overall pick is available, and so much more!

Chicago Bulls: Rhythm Found and Roles Defined in Big Win

The Chicago Bears are Betting on Matt Nagy’s Scheme Over Roster

Anchor | Apple

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With Friends Like James Harden, Who Needs Enemies?

Polarizing is a word that fittingly describes the kind of player James Harden is. Some view his style of play as innovative and unique; a skill set he has honed through practicing tough shots and understanding the rule book. Others would call it a detriment to the game. An abuse of poorly written and unevenly called rules. The amount of discussion coming from either side, though, shows just how high of a profile Harden has.

News broke on Wednesday that the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards had agreed to swap star point guards. Russell Westbrook to Washington and John Wall to Houston. It’s been reported that Harden and Wall have worked out and played in open runs together for some time now. The move has received all sorts of reactions, just like anything else Harden does.

Harden Running Out of Friends to Help Him

Okay, But Why?

Some say this is a move designed to keep Harden interested in staying in Houston. Recent attempts to get over the hump in the postseason have all fallen short. We can go back to the Dwight Howard experiment but let’s instead focus on Chris Paul’s time in H-Town. There was much consternation about how they would coexist being as ball-dominant as they are. They worked well enough for folks to hypothesize that if Paul doesn’t get hurt the Rockets might make some noise.

Well, Paul got shipped out after two seasons. One of which they lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games. Injuries had always been a part of Paul’s history so an injury possibly derailing a playoff run is plausible. When Harden told reporters after they got bounced in 2018 that he knew what had to be done, the writing was on the wall.

Houston shocked the world again. They made another trade for what most considered an unmovable contract when they swapped CP3 for Russell Westbrook. After failing to click with the Point God, Harden now had his childhood friend for a running-mate. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s style caused the Rockets to change up their roster. They went with a small-ball approach. The tallest person on the floor for them often standing no taller than 6-foot-7. That ended with a five-game series loss in the second round. Again to the eventual champion, this time in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, even with Daryl Morey no longer in the fold, the Rockets have swapped unmovable contracts. The move is receiving mixed reviews. Some argue the Rockets won. On top of keeping Harden happy, they get rid of Westbrook whose style isn’t conducive to winning. Others will argue the Wizards won because of the off-the-court issues Wall has had as well as the complicated relationship with (and reaction to the team building around) Bradley Beal. Oh, and Wall, who hasn’t played since the 2018-19 season, is returning from serious injuries including a torn Achilles.

Same Difference

The tale of the tape is quite interesting. Wall is the bigger of the two and has the higher assist average. This is more than a little surprising given Westbrook’s three-year run of averaging a triple-double. But Wall had a three-year stretch where he averaged better than 10 dimes per game. The difference is Wall has never been the kind of shot-seeking scorer that Westbrook is.

Brodie has eight seasons (out of 12) averaging greater than 18 shots per contest. Wall, aptly nicknamed ‘Optimus Dime’, has but one. Westbrook is the more voluminous scorer too, but Wall takes the efficiency advantage everywhere but at the free throw line.

Perhaps ideally, in the mind of Harden and Rockets brass, is that Wall can be a happy medium between Westbrook’s explosiveness (a nice compliment to Harden’s lull-you-to-sleep style) and Paul’s pass-first mentality. That is if he is happy and focused. Going to a competitive situation in Houston after being in the tumultuous one in Washington will help. As will the singing of Demarcus Cousins; a friend of Wall’s going back to their day at the University of Kentucky.

We’re all missing the forest for the trees, though. It doesn’t matter if this will work for the Rockets (it won’t). Nor does it matter who won the trade (the blogosphere). No, what matters here is that Harden has cycled through a fair amount of friends for teammates and hasn’t figured out the right fit yet. At some point the question needs to be asked if building around him is worth it.

The Real Culprit

This isn’t an attack on his playing style, either, outside of his willingness to be complimentary. There aren’t many, if any, situations where Harden would be a second option but he could still benefit from being a better compliment on the floor to his team. Instead of standing in the corner watching the action when off the ball, become a better, more active cutter. Instead of dribbling out the shot clock on every possession, allow yourself to be more of a part of a system that get more guys involved.

Yes, star players are supposed to touch and shoot the ball more. Harden’s 36.3 usage rate in 2019-20 is second only to Michael Jordan’s ‘86-’87 season (38.3) in NBA history. With nowhere close to the hardware as ‘His Airness’, and a history of fading in the postseason, that number could stand to drop even if only a little bit. The last player to win a championship with a usage rate in the 30s was LeBron James in 2012-13 with the Miami Heat. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, two of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, haven’t even done it.

It’s a big deal that the Rockets and Wizards pulled this trade off. We just need to recognize what the real story is here: Harden is the problem, not his teammates. At some point, it is no longer everybody else, it’s you. We are seeing this response to Paul George who is implicated in reports of dysfunction in the Los Angeles Clippers organization and now taking thinly-veiled shots at former coach Doc Rivers.

Harden’s passing of the buck isn’t as blatant as George’s was. But, even with the statements before the CP3 trade, the constant cycling of supporting cast speaks volumes. Talking heads have just overlooked it because the Rockets keep putting together intriguing groups. This time though, with a move that might be best described as lateral, we might be reaching the end of this case study. It’s been theorized that the Wall and Cousins moves are independent of a decision to move Harden, though that seems unlikely.

Rough Being Friends with James Harden

We saw Harden slapping Paul’s hand away on the sidelines and read the reports that Harden and Westbrook had bumped heads on occasion. These incidents get viewed through the lens of isolated incidents or as the fault of the other guy. Maybe rightfully so, none of the aforementioned teammates were choirboys. But the common denominator, and dominator of the situation, is James Harden. As a player who has been vocal about his scoring accolades, he needs to be a leader and own up to and adjust his ways.

Unless, of course, he truly doesn’t care about winning

Triple Zeros: City of the Big Shoulders (and Bad Football)

Triple Zeros Ep. 💯!!

City of Big Shoulders (and Bad Football)

 
🏈Steelers Imperfectly Perfect
🏈Nuk the Jumpman
🏀On the Move
🏀It’s #NBADraft-mas Eve
+More!
 

Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

Chris Paul Changed His Narrative Without Winning a Ring

Just a few short years ago Chris Paul, one of the greatest point guards of his generation, if not in the history of the NBA, had a decaying reputation.

Paul Changed Narrative Without Championship

Everyone acknowledged his talent. He has a supreme basketball IQ, can score on anyone in any number of ways, and was an absolute floor general always in command of the situation at hand.

Some of those things, however, began to work against him in recent years. So much so that there was actually a debate on whether he or Rajon Rondo was the worse teammate. Rondo said it’s Paul, for what it’s worth.

Now, Paul isn’t exactly innocent of all the charges brought against him in the court of public opinion. He has had moments where his passion has gotten the best of him. Videos like the one below do him no favors.

No one likes to lose, but that is a reaction one wouldn’t even expect to see at a bitty ball game, let alone from a veteran NBA player. Sorry, not just a veteran. A ten-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selection, six-time steals leader, .four-time assists leader Oh, he was also Rookie of the Year and, obviously, First Team All-Rookie selection.

That’s a helluva resume for someone who does what we see in that video. It wasn’t an isolated thing either. We all remember the story of Paul trying to storm the Los Angeles Clippers locker room with his Rockets teammates.

Or the image of his former teammate on the Rockets James Harden swatting his hand away during a timeout.

It hasn’t just been attitude questions surrounding Paul. There have also been charges of choking and being injury prone. The latter has more credibility but neither is really on target. Interestingly enough, all of the things held against him have always been present in his NBA career.

But he got the benefit of the doubt in New Orleans, be it due to youth, the small market, or the general belief that he didn’t have enough around him to compete.

That changed when he arrived in L.A., but no the before he got one more image booster from the NBA. At the time, the league controlled his team, the Hornets, and David Stern made the infamous decision to nix a deal that would have had Paul joining the Lakers and teaming with Kobe Bryant.

Instead, CP3 wound up with the Clippers and began the era known as Lob City, a high-flying circus of a group that included Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Doc Rivers was the last remaining piece from that era

Unfortunately, injuries continued to be an issue not just for Paul but also for Griffin. The group fell short of expectations, much in the same ways Paul’s Hornets did. This time, though, the spotlight was much brighter.

People began to focus on his injury history. His past playoff performances began to be scrutinized with his statistical output being undercut by those clutch moments where he came up short.

We even reached a point where his style of basketball was being questioned as conducive to winning. Pundits once lauded his ability to control the game and now they condemned him for dribbling the air out of the basketball.

Six seasons in L.A. Six straight playoff appearances. Zero Conference Finals berths.

This was after three trips to the playoffs in New Orleans with similar results. Again though, that spotlight was so much brighter in La La Land. He was a veteran and nine-time All-Star. At some point, explanations become excuses no matter how legitimate they may be.

That’s how significant the trade to Houston was. It not only showed that Paul was still a desired commodity (something that had been publicly in question), it allowed him to show his game was malleable. If he could play with Harden, who has a “ball hog” rep of his own, then surely the talking heads were wrong about Paul.

But his Houston tenure went just like his previous two stops. Plagued by injuries and disappointment.

Though he did exorcise his demon of not reaching the Conference Finals. When Harden said he knew what had to be done following the Rockets elimination in 2019, many of us knew what was coming. We saw him slap Paul’s hand.

Houston traded CP3 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook. It was a deal that no one would have predicted months earlier but was made necessary following the surprise request and subsequent trade of Paul George. It was actually an idea bandied about back in 2011 when Paul was still with the Hornets. Of course, the circumstances were different this time around with both players looking to rehab their images.

The talk was OKC was just a pit stop, a temporary situation until he inevitably got dealt to a contender; namely the Miami Heat. The Thunder had gutted their team moving Westbrook and George, the latter of which bought a bevy of draft picks, young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari back in return. This was clearly an organization transitioning to rebuilding mode.

Until they weren’t.

ESPN gave the Thunder a .2 percent chance of making the postseason. Not only did they make it, but they were also the fifth seed and took the Rockets seven games. It was yet another first-round exit but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would attack Paul, who had 19/11/12 in the deciding Game 7.

On the contrary, Paul earned recognition for bringing together the ragtag bunch. He was, at least partially, credited with the development of Gilgeous-Alexander and making the trio of he, SGA, and Dennis Schroder work.

We know about Paul’s mentorship of young players off the court and all he does in the community but this was the first time in a long time that he was in that role and he seemingly crushed it. So much so that there has been talk that new Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan owes the fact that he got another job so quickly to Paul and what the Thunder did on the floor.

Talks now, while the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat battled to and in the NBA Finals, is rife with players requesting their teams trade for Paul and positive speculation of reunions with former coaches.

In stark contrast to just two years ago when the book on his legacy was thought to have already been written. A player so many thought was selfish and played a losing brand of ball is suddenly a sought-after piece for a contender and mentor for teams like the Bulls, who have young point guard (and Paul mentee) Coby White.

Chris Paul legitimately changed the entire narrative around him without winning a ring.

Don’t think that’s been given up on though.