Basketball Wiretap

Russell Westbrook Shattering Usage Rate Record In Playoffs

Apr 20, 2017 11:18 AM

After the first two games of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, Russell Westbrook has a usage rate of 52.0 while James Harden ranks second at 40.9. Westbrook had a usage rate of 41.6 during the regular season, which broke Kobe Bryant's record.

Westbrook's usage rate is shattering all prior marks with Michael Jordan's mark in 1986 of 39.3 being the next closest.

2017: Russell Westbrook, 52.0
2016: Russell Westbrook, 34.3
2015: LeBron James, 37.6
2014: Russell Westbrook: 34.3
2013: Carmelo Anthony, 38.0
2012: Carmelo Anthony, 36.2
2011: Derrick Rose, 35.2
2010: Dwyane Wade: 34.1
2009: Tony Parker: 39.1
2008: Tracy McGrady: 36.0
2007: Tracy McGrady: 35.7
2006: Vince Carter: 34.0
2005: Tracy McGrady: 34.8
2004: Paul Pierce: 33.3
2003: Allen Iverson: 36.8
2002: Allen Iverson: 35.5
2001: Karl Malone: 38.2
2000: Jerry Stackhouse: 35.6
1999: Allen Iverson: 33.1
1998: Michael Jordan: 36.9
1997: Shaquille O'Neal: 35.9
1996: Karl Malone: 35.0
1995: Hakeem Olajuwon: 372
1994: Scottie Pippen: 32.3
1993: Michael Jordan: 38.3
1992: Michael Jordan: 37.2
1991: Michael Jordan: 32.9
1990: Michael Jordan: 36.1
1989: Michael Jordan: 35.7
1988: Dominique Wilkins: 35.9
1987: Michael Jordan: 38.9
1986: Michael Jordan: 39.3

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ, NBA Playoffs

Pat Riley Wants To Retain Roster, Downplays Adding 'Whale' In Free Agency

Apr 19, 2017 1:43 PM

The Miami Heat narrowly missed out on the playoffs after a slow start to the season.

While Pat Riley has long sought cap space for 2017, he appears willing to shift towards retaining their own players. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Luke Babbitt and Willie Reed are amongst Miami's free agents.

"We're going to focus on our guys," Riley said.

Miami finished 41-41 and were one of the best teams in the NBA by the end of the season.

"I think the table is set. It was a great disappointment, but at the same time it was a lot of success."

Riley believes the Heat are positioned for improvement still.

"While we're not in the playoffs, I think we're ahead and set with the pick. We have flexibility."

Riley downplayed adding a "whale" in free agency, and distanced himself from the term he had previously coined, "I regret ever making that statement."


Ira Winderman/South Florida Sun Sentinel

Tags: Miami Heat, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

Warriors, Spurs Only Teams In Top-10 In Both Offensive, Defensive Efficiency

Apr 13, 2017 10:50 AM

The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs and are the two teams to rank in the top-10 in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency to finish the 16-17 NBA season. The Warriors and Spurs also rank first and second in net rating.

At the halfway mark, the Warriors, Spurs and Clippers ranked in the top-10 in both categories. At the 1/4 mark, the Warriors, Clippers and Utah Jazz ranked in the top-10 in both categories. At the 1/8 mark, the Clippers, Spurs and Chicago Bulls ranked in the top-10 in both categories. 

The Toronto Raptors were the closest team to also being in the top-10 on both sides, as they rank sixth in offense and 11th in defense. The Jazz are 12th in offense and third defensively, while the Clippers are fifth in offense and 12th defensively.

The Rockets finish the season ranked third in Net Rating with the second ranked offense and 18th ranked defense.

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Warriors, Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Clippers and Spurs finished in the top-10 on both sides of the floor.  

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Rob Pelinka Compares GM Job To Rubik's Cube

Apr 12, 2017 2:30 PM

Rob Pelinka was recently asked if he has a general philosophy of how he's approaching his job as general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers in light of their multi-year rebuilding endeavors.

"The most important thing is that when there is extraordinary success, you can get to a place in life where you rest on that success," said Pelinka. "I think all of us – Luke (Walton), Magic (Johnson), myself, Jeanie (Buss) – feel like there’s a little bit of a sort of casualness that has crept in. Like, we’ve done all these great things, so maybe we don’t have to outwork everyone else, or out-hustle everyone else, or have a greater version than everyone else.

"So I think we’ve all gotten to that point where we say, ‘OK, we’re blowing up any of those notions and we’re going to bring back a new mentality … which is … what does it mean to put on the purple and gold Lakers jersey? What sense of pride is there? What am I signing up for when I do this?’ When I get out my keycard in the morning, I think, ‘What does that mean for this day?’ This is a position of responsibility for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. What responsibility do I have to this day and to this moment? And I think bringing that back, all of us, to the players and the fans is one of the first things we’re working on.

"And then to the specifics to team building, there are a lot of uncertainties. Do we have our draft pick in June, or do we not? What free agents do extensions? What free agents become true free agents? What players from other teams are teams going to think about trading? There are millions and millions of combinations. It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube. If you’re trying to solve it, there are many different combinations and turns you could make to get to the end path. You have to really study that board hard and make all the right turns to get there, but there is likely more than one way to get to the end.

"But you have to stay focused, and keep turning and looking at it like a chess game, keep moving the pieces around the board knowing what the goal is. The goal is to win a championship and we’re going to do everything we can to bring that probability here again. But to articulate and say ‘Here’s step one, step two and all the way to 10’ is just impossible."

Mike Trudell/

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

76ers Remain Committed To Using Ben Simmons As Traditional Point Guard

Apr 12, 2017 2:03 PM

Brett Brown expounded upon his plans for Ben Simmons during an appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast.

The Philadelphia 76ers plan on using Simmons as their point guard though the offseason could change the equation. Philadelphia could be in position to draft either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball.

"So let’s pretend that the draft isn’t gonna happen, and let’s pretend that we’re not gonna seek a high-level free agent as it relates to point guards," said Brown on the podcast. "So when you look at the flexibility we have, we’ve never been more in a position of strength as it relates to truly chasing a legit free agent. Because we’re not poor, we have money that we can use. We’re now gonna be learning a lot more in May when the ping-pong balls drop of where we fall into the lottery order. But if you just sorta zoom in on Ben — and I’ve known his mom and dad before they were married, I’ve known all of his coaches in very close ways that coached him when he was 8 years old and 12 years old and 14 — I’m in a very sort of unusual position given my history with Australian basketball where you can really study it. Then you go back and you study him in high school in Miami and really study his rent-a-year at LSU, he just comes in, he plays for a season, then boom, straight to the NBA.

"It is undeniable that — and I see it with my own son — when the ball goes in a basket or whatever, you know, when you look at young players, there’s always two or three people who come back who want to be the point guard," continued Brown. "He’s done that his whole life. He wants the ball, and he has a complete passion to pass. So if you just take those two qualities, and forget how big he is, then you say well the starting point is interesting if you wanna try to say, “well, you’re a point guard.” Because all of a sudden somebody else comes in and says, “well now he’s 6’10”.” It gives people pause. If we said he had those qualities and he’s 6’4”, you might not think too much about if he’s a point guard or not. So that I feel that it would be not wise if we don’t consider him to be that, and I’m committed to trying this. I think we could all walk back out of this, led by me, and say, “you know what, it’s a challenge, but I’m not gonna backpedal quickly.”

"When I say “point guard,” I mean “point guard.” You know, who takes the ball out of bounds, who receives the ball when the ball goes in the basket, who brings it up the floor after a free throw. I’m not talking about Draymond, I’m not talking about LeBron, you know, I’m talking about a point guard. And so I intend on trying this. You always get into conversations, “well that’s fine, who does he guard?” I don’t see him guarding the opposition’s point guard. It could end up he guards who guards him, so you’re not cross-matched in transition defense. Having said that, I expect that other teams aren’t gonna go put Chris Paul on Ben Simmons, or Isaiah Thomas on Ben Simmons. And so I feel like it’s gonna be interesting, it is a challenge, it is ambitious. But my starting point is where I end up, he’s got a quality that he wants the ball and he loves to pass. And so we’re gonna persevere, and see where this plays out."

Xylon Dimoff/Liberty Ballers

Tags: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia Sixers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Draymond Green Sees Similarities In His Defense To Free Safety

Apr 10, 2017 1:24 PM

Draymond Green has been one of the best defensive players in the game over the past three seasons and was asked about how he cultivates his instincts.

"Definitely. It’s film, but even more than just film, it’s just being a student of the game," said Green.

"I watch basketball all day every day. So when I’m watching the games, I watch it–I just enjoy watching basketball–but when I’m watching other people play, I’m really just watching as a student trying to figure different things out.

"You tend to figure out guys’ moves, you figure out their go-to moves, you figure out their tendencies; if this happens, what they like to do in certain situations.

"And then also, while playing them, you just kind of get a feel of what they’re doing that night. So as the game goes on, it gets easier and easier to defend someone, because you know what they’re going to."

Green was also asked if there's any similarities in his defense to an NFL player.

"It is, it is. It’s definitely that," said Green.

"Like a free safety, where you’re just roaming, you’re kind of watching the quarterback’s eyes, you’re just reading the whole situation. It’s definitely that.

"And probably because I love football, I love watching football. It’s definitely more of a free safety type mentality, for sure."

Tim Kawakami/San Jose Mercury News

Tags: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Daryl Morey: Warriors, Spurs, Rockets Have Best Indicators To Win Title

Apr 6, 2017 7:00 PM

The Houston Rockets have the third best net rating in the NBA but questions remain about their defense. The Rockets, however, rank a respectable 16th in defense.

"I think most people thought [we'd rank] 30th, to be honest," Daryl Morey half-joked.

With Mike D'Antoni hired as head coach, the Rockets weren't expected to be this good on defense.

"Historically, some of the best coaches and the best teams had top defenses, [but] it's actually hard to disentangle cause and effect between the style of play that those teams play in, their personnel, and how likely they were to win the title," Morey told VICE Sports. "The most important thing is, are you creating a margin enough to be able to win the title? And historically you have to be somewhere around where we're at, which is like a six or more net margin. Obviously the higher the better, and Golden State has one of the best margins of all time. But we're right there with the Spurs. Us, Golden State, and the Spurs have the best indicators to be champions this year. We just all happen to be in the same conference."

"Sometimes we want to run before we get the ball," Rockets assistant coach and defensive coordinator Jeff Bzdelik told VICE Sports. "And so it's always a constant challenge. The defensive end is not the sexy part of the game."

Michael Pina/Vice Sports

Tags: Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Frank Vogel: Teams Struggle Playing Big Without All-Star Level PF

Apr 6, 2017 11:28 AM

The Orlando Magic never established the "smart, physical, unselfish, defensive-minded” identity Rob Hennigan expected them to have this season.

The Magic tried to play two big men together.

Frank Vogel sees the Magic now as a “small-ball team that plays up-tempo and does a lot of switching and swarming.”

The Magic have moved Aaron Gordon from small forward to power forward.

“I think the biggest thing it depends on is the power forward position,” Vogel said Wednesday. “What’s your best power forward’s identity? If it’s LaMarcus Aldridge, you’re going to be a big, pound-it-in-the-post team. If it’s Aaron Gordon, you’re going to be an up-tempo, run-the-floor team. It depends mostly on that, I think. But this is how most of the league is playing right now. So if you’re going to try to play big, you’ve got to do it with basically an All-Star-level power forward or you’re going to struggle.”

Gordon clearly fits better offensively at power forward.

“We’ll see what the roster looks like next year,” Vogel said. “You have to create your style of play based on what your roster looks like. But there’s definitely a feeling that what we’ve done the second part of the season has the development of our young guys and this group going in the right direction.”

Josh Robbins/Orlando Sentinel

Tags: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

Pelicans Optimistic About Davis-Cousins Pairing After Late Season Surge

Apr 5, 2017 9:54 AM

The New Orleans Pelicans are tied for fifth in the NBA in net rating since March 1st as they've worked in DeMarcus Cousins.

The question for the Pelicans is no longer getting Anthony Davis another star player.

“I look at AD and the way he’s played -- he’s played like a top-five player the whole season,” Alvin Gentry said. “And not only that, he’s done it for over 70 games. That’s a real positive in itself, right there.

“And you can see he and DeMarcus are going to be fine together. You put them in a training camp and you’re able to really hone in on what you want to do and how they can play together. They can be very, very effective. I think we have a chance to move forward.”

The Pelicans have been eliminated from the playoffs but they're ending the season with optimism. 

“This past two-and-a-half, three weeks, we’ve really been jelling well together, figuring out how we want to play,” Davis said. “We definitely got something out of it, and now we have four games left to continue to build on it.”

The Pelicans have a plus-2.8 net rating when Cousins and Davis share the court in their almost 400 minutes together, and that number jumps to plus-5.2 since March 1 and plus-12.8 over their past 10 games.

Justin Verrier/ESPN

Tags: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Spurs Believe Kawhi Leonard's Shot Was Never Broken

Apr 5, 2017 8:22 AM

The San Antonio Spurs used Richard Jefferson and Kobe Bryant for models to develop the shooting form of Kawhi Leonard.

“Whether a billion hours, a million hours or a thousand hours, everyone has worked on their shot, and every shot’s personal, and not everybody’s willing to change. I didn't have time to spend and get to know him and get personal with his shot.

“I used Richard [Jefferson] as a model and also used Kobe Bryant, because Kobe Bryant has really good shooting form. I didn’t know if Kawhi was a Laker fan or not or a Kobe fan, but you had to respect his work and his shooting. So, we used pictures and video of them. I showed him his pictures of where his was, similar to where Richard was. Kawhi’s smart, and he goes, ‘Let's go to work, let's do it.’”

Gregg Popovich believes Leonard arrived to the Spurs as a better shooter than people realized.

We saw the work ethic first and then we saw when we put him out on the court, his shot was not broken at all," said Popovich. "It was just the fact he never did it much. So it was like a secret that was hidden, and all of a sudden he’s a pretty good shooter."

“To the outer world, it appears that he has suddenly emerged as an All-Star or an MVP candidate. It seems like he has suddenly showed up and all of a sudden, ‘Wow. This guy’s really good.’," said Chad Forcier.

“I don’t see it that way, and what the outer world can’t see is truly like how much time and actually how slow the process was in terms of the work and the sweat and the commitment and the desire and the day-in-and-day-out process or multiple seasons before we really got to see him grow in terms of the opportunity that Pop began to start to give him.”

Jonathan Abrams/Bleacher Report

Tags: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ