Jon Hamm (Bleacher Report) on the Thunder need to show before they can become the West’s 2nd best team: “But in order for that to happen, Westbrook is going to have to surrender a degree of control, since he can’t pass the ball to himself. Having continuity with center Steven Adams and George, plus the addition of Schroder may make him more comfortable with relaxing his grip on the offense.”
Michael Bolin (247 Sports) says former Thunder center Dakari Johnson will sign with a team in China: “According to a report from the Chinese newspaper Jinan Times, Johnson has come to an agreement with the Qingdao Eagles on a deal that will bring the former Kentucky Wildcats standout to Asia as a professional for the first time in his career.”
DJ Siddiqi (247 Sports) on Sasha Vujacic working out for the Thunder: “You can never have enough three-point shooting in today’s NBA and that certainly applies to the Thunder. Oklahoma City ranked 11th in three-pointers converted last season and just 24th in terms of three-point percentage. Oklahoma City has 14 guaranteed contracts for next season, so they technically have a roster spot open for Vujacic if need be.”
Jimmy Do (OKCThunder.com) on Thunder minority owner George Kaiser’s vision of unity in Tulsa: “George Kaiser, member of the Thunder ownership group, was on hand to experience his vision become a reality. He leveraged his passion for people to deliver not just an iconic riverfront park, but a symbolic example for others to follow in giving back to the community.”
Andrew Joseph (For The Win) on the apparent hypothermia-induced traumatic brain injury suffered by Denver guard Isaiah Thomas: “In an appearance on Laugh Out Loud Network’s Cold as Balls with Kevin Hart, Thomas was asked to rank his top 5 point guards in the NBA. He said he’d put himself at No. 1, followed by Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Damian Lillard. He’d eventually bump Wall off his list for Kyrie Irving.”
Jordan Buckamneer (Thunder Intentions) on the impact Russell Westbrook has while on the floor: “For starters, Westbrook’s presence on the floor changes everything for OKC. He’s a ball-dominate point guard who acts first and thinks later. Yes, there are negatives to his style, but it’s helped the Thunder more than it has hurt. In fact, his teammate’s shot quality is far better when he’s on the floor. Even more so than LeBron James’ teammates, who are commonly said to benefit more than any other team in the league. Furthermore, the Thunder’s team assists jump by 5.36 when he’s on the floor and they score at a rate of +10.41 per 100 possessions.”
Yaron Weitzman (Bleacher Report) on an article from about a year and a half ago about the Thunder’s newest assistant coach, Dave Bliss: “That’s no accident or coincidence. Bliss is part of a new breed of NBA assistant coaches that have fueled the boom of young talent in the league. With teams spending increasingly less time on the practice floor and rest becoming a valued commodity, front offices have started searching for alternate ways to bring along their youngest players. One possible counter, teams have found, is to fill their coaching and video departments with young and spry former players like Bliss, assistants who boast both brains and brawn, who can help both off the court and on.”
Here’s Bliss working out with Kristaps Porzingis before a game two seasons ago.