HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Westbrook, Presti Thrilled About Extension
By Susan Bible
Those who were hoping the Oklahoma City Thunder would extend Russell Westbrook’s contract prior to next weeks’ deadline received good news today. Very good news in fact; it was just announced that he signed a multi-year deal with the Thunder.
Per team policy the exact details were not released, but according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the parties agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract extension.
Thunder General Manager and Executive Vice President Sam Presti released the following statement, in part, earlier today: “We are thrilled to solidify Russell’s future with the Thunder. Since we arrived in Oklahoma City, Russell’s work ethic, persistence, character, and involvement in our community have helped us establish the standards that we are committed to on a day-to-day basis. He is a valued member of our organization and we look forward to his continued contributions on and off the floor.”
Cousins Ready To Move Past The Drama
By Stephen Litel
The Sacramento Kings have had an interesting season so far to say the least. There have been reported issues in the locker room, odd press releases and sub-par play to this point. One of the players who figures prominently in all of those areas is DeMarcus Cousins, who has always had questions surrounding his attitude and maturity and prior to Sacramento’s game Monday night in Minnesota, a majority of the team was ready to move past the drama and begin to find answers to the issues.
“I have an idea of how to deal with him, but I’m beyond that part of how to deal with him,” said Head Coach Keith Smart. “That’s a dead issue now. This is the issue that I’m coaching a young man brand new, so all the things people are saying about him, I’ve got him covered one hundred percent because he’s a brand new guy right now. I don’t think he’s going to be the guy that people are perceiving him to be and so, for me and for you, as media experts, give the guy a chance. Start writing about what you see the positive of what he’s doing right now and not so much the baggage he was bringing in. Give him a chance to go in a new direction and then see what happens from there, as opposed to every conversation is ‘that guy and his attitude.’ To me, it’s over and I was there, so I know you have a blank sheet of paper and right now that blank sheet of paper is pretty good.”
Coach: Problematic Passing Prowess
By Anthony Macri
Much has been made (by me and by others) about how effective a passer Ricky Rubio is as a rookie. Rubio combined his physical gifts of pinpoint accuracy and strength behind the ball with great vision, seeing not only his open teammate but also that teammate’s defender and any other help that might be in the vicinity. One oft-overlooked piece to the puzzle when it comes to Rubio’s passing prowess is his outrageous sense of timing: Rubio (and other gifted passers) makes the right pass and leads teammates into easy scoring situations.
This may be the biggest difference between Rubio and other guys expected to make plays and facilitate offense. The ability to make great passes that facilitate offense and keep it in flow really comes down to three major components: physical mechanics / strength, vision and court awareness, and finally the ability to anticipate the see the play develop before committing to a decision. Many guards in the league possess the first two characteristics, but the third is one that few have (and, it seems, many are ignorant of).
Two issues erupt when it comes to timing: holding the ball too long, bypassing simple, correct plays in favor of potentially magical, “amazing” ones, or getting rid of the ball without a real plan, without a real attempt to set up teammates, in which easy scoring opportunities come via chance as much as anything.
Fiery Stephen Jackson Leading Young Bucks
By Derek Page
Since coming over in an offseason trade from the Charlotte Bobcats, Stephen Jackson has displayed the toughness and leadership that resulted in the Bobcats first playoff appearance.
Through nearly the first quarter of the 2011-2012 NBA season, an injury-riddled Milwaukee Bucks team has struggled to play many games with it’s full arsenal of players. Through these tough times early on, the Bucks have found a leader in Jackson.
“I think his heart, his desire and his will to win,” Bucks’ point guard Brandon Jennings told HOOPSWORLD of Jackson’s endearing qualities. “He brings a lot of attitude to this team that we really need, that toughness that we never had. With a guy like that it’s going to help other players around our team and make us better.”
Markieff Morris Is No Ordinary Rookie
By Mark Nugent
When Markieff Morris was selected 13th by the Phoenix Suns in the 2011 NBA Draft most of the media attention was focused on him and his brother Marcus, who was selected 14th, being twins, as opposed to what he can bring to the Suns. Markieff is quickly changing that.
Morris has started the season on fire shooting 47.3% from the field and 48.5% from behind the arc. In just over 21 minutes per game he is also averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.
“Coach is giving me time and I’m just playing. I just go out and play basketball like I’ve been doing my entire life,” Morris told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m excited to be in the league and a part of the Phoenix Suns and I’m just having a great time.”
Rookie Watch: January 18th
By Jason Fleming
This week the Rookie Report moves to its normal day on Wednesday. Now every Wednesday you know you will be getting HOOPSWORLD’s official rookie report. The idea is give a ranking of how the league’s top rookies are playing, and in a season like this one there could be a lot of movement in any given week.
In the list below there really should be a huge gap between spots two and three. Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving are head and shoulders above the rest of the 2011-12 rookie class playing point guard, the position traditionally the most difficult to adapt to on the fly. It should also be noted there is almost no gap between Rubio and Irving at this point; next week they could flip-flop in the rankings, something we could see continuing until the end of the regular season. (Last Rookie Report)
On to the list! (Stats are through games from January 16th.)