OTG Full-Court Press: Week 5
Kory Waldron and Marc Cantave debate the hottest topic around the NBA!
Will Russell Westbrook finish the season averaging a triple-double?
The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently 11-8. There’s no question this start is a reflection of the team's star Russell Westbrook. Following the team's recent win over the New York Knick, at Madison Square Garden. Westbrook is now averaging a triple-double through 19 games. 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.3 rebounds, incredible to see those numbers, make no mistake! Yet, I still have little faith or belief that this is sustainable for a full season. Playing all of these minutes, battling down low for rebounds, attacking the rim and getting to the line. This is a lot to ask from anyone, even someone as talented as Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook is already struggling in regards to shooting, in four straight games he’s shot under 40 percent and is at 43 percent on the season. Obviously that’s not the end of the world as the Thunder currently are riding a three game win streak. But, itt’s something to keep an eye on, mainly for me I just think this may become too much for Westbrook.
Marc Cantave: For Russell Westbrook to keep up that level of play it would be astronomical and a great thing to see. With this particular topic I am torn because, I can see him accomplishing this feat, but I don’t think he can hold on to double digit rebounding. That being said, I am going to side with history in the making. Russell Westbrook will continue to average these numbers and will finish the season averaging a triple double. Now his team will suffer for it because he loves to pad his stats, but I think he will get it by the end of the season barring injury.
Are the Los Angeles Lakers a playoff team?
Kory Waldron: The Lakers are fun to watch. That’s something which wasn’t very commonly said when talking about the Lakers the last few seasons . Not to mention, they were consistently at the bottom of the Western Conference standings . The illustrious career of Kobe Bryant blinded me - with Kobe retired and gone, the new young, purple and gold Lakers have started to figure things out. Luke Walton has proven through 18 games that he wasn’t a product of the incredible talent of the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers are as we say, “on the come up.” Which means? You guessed it, They aren’t quite ready for the playoffs, but the future is bright. The team is young, it has talent but we still have 75% of the NBA season to play. These young guys will go through slumps, and they will make poor decisions on the court (hopefully not off). Currently they hold the 8th seed in the West, with the Portland Trail Blazers at 9th. That right there is more than enough for me to tell you that the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t a playoff team, yet.
Marc Cantave: The Western Conference standings rarely change from year to year, as the usual teams get in, but the seeding changes. Even as we speak, the same teams are there once again. The only difference is the Dallas Mavericks, who have plummeted to the bottom and will most likely miss the playoffs. With the rest of the non-playoff teams looking to miss the playoffs again (Pelicans, Timberwolves Suns, etc), the two teams battling for that spot to replace the Mavericks are the Utah Jazz and these Los Angeles Lakers. Like Kory stated, Walton has done a great job this year and I believe that hard work will be rewarded with an eighth spot in the Western Conference. In fact I think the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers will both get in. This means that another team from last year will miss the playoffs. Who is that team? Keep reading!
Will the Oklahoma City Thunder make the playoffs?
Marc Cantave: Russell Westbrook is a point guard like no other. The man is putting up insane numbers and will have a historic season, but with that being said, his Thunder team won’t make the playoffs. This team just isn’t that good. They are a great rebounding team (particularly offensive rebounding) and are even decent offensively, but they will not be able to sustain it during the course of the season. The Thunder are 11-8 and have played a relatively easy schedule so far. Their last four games were against the Nuggets, Pistons, Knicks, and Kings, in which they lost to the Kings and went to overtime with the Nuggets.
They have already lost to the Clippers (although they beat them once), Warriors, and the Raptors and have still yet to face the Spurs or the Cavs. The Thunder are struggling with bad teams and it only takes one poor shooting night from Westbrook (which he has a lot) to make them lose close games against these teams. Westbrook will get his numbers, but the team will get their losses. As good as he is, his late game turnovers and bad fourth quarter shot selection will force them to lose a few close games. I have the Thunder finishing ninth and missing the playoffs.
Kory Waldron: Despite how I feel about Westbrook averaging a triple-double, I can’t see this Thunder team out of the playoffs. I’m not giving them a chance to be an upper Western team, but they’ll slip in as an eighth seed. Westbrook will keep producing, Victor Oladipo will continue to grow on this roster. Steven Adams has been consistent, Enes Kanter has been an off the bench weapon and Andre Roberson has been everything and more on the defensive end. Let’s not forget the trade rumors swirling around Rudy Gay, he would would be a nice fit on paper.
Who is leading the Defensive Player of the Year race?
Marc Cantave: Kawhi Leonard has been playing great defense as he is top 3 in steals per game once again this year, but as of right now, the leading candidate to win the award is Draymond Green. The man in the middle for the Warriors, Green has been on a tear defensively and his stats are backing that up. He is averaging 1.8 blocks per game to go along with 2.1 steals per game, which is good for top ten in each category. He is the only player that is top ten in both of those categories.
Draymond Green single-handedly saved the game for the Warriors the other night as he has two crucial blocks in the closing minutes against the Atlanta Hawks. With the Warriors losing Andrew Bogut, they have slipped a little defensively, but Green has done a stellar job making sure that slip wasn’t too drastic. If Draymond Green continues his stellar play defensively, he will win DPOY.
Kory Waldron: This race is not a competition in my eyes, yet. It’s Kawhi Leonard’s award until proven otherwise. Opposing players are shooting 44.8 percent when guarded by Leonard and outside of 15 feet opposing players are shooting a dismal 36.1 percent from the field. Along with that he’s still using his “claws” to grab over two steals a game. One last defensive stat I’ll throw in is Kawhi Leonard’s defensive rating, which currently stands at 106.4, Draymond Green has a defensive rating of 100.2. Yeah, Draymond is an incredible defender at his size and position, I still give and edge to Leonard.