It’s finally Game Day!!!!! The beginning of what should be a fun journey.
Weston Shepard (Daily Thunder) with 20 predictions for this season: “This seems like an obvious thing to say, but I’ve long felt wildly uncomfortable with the Thunder’s options at backup center. With Adams playing a very rough-and-tumble game, along with a history of nagging injuries that cost him a game or two here and there, having this security blanket behind him will prove to be invaluable. Noel’s stat line won’t shock anyone and he may very well have plenty of quiet nights, but he will anchor the second unit’s defense and likely step in and start a game or two. The difference between him and Dakari Johnson (who started six games last season) is substantial — something that will be very obvious when the time comes.”
Chris Mannix (Yahoo Sports) says Paul George now has to make the Thunder contenders: “Among the topics: Be more selfish. It’s a message George received from Westbrook all season, and one he admits he was never fully comfortable with. “I don’t really classify myself as a scorer,” George said. “I’m a ballplayer, I’m a playmaker, I like to set people up and make the game easy for everybody. But Russ is out there telling me, ‘I need you to be a scorer, I need you to be a scorer. I’m going to set everyone else up, I’m going to get everyone else involved. I need you to be a scorer.’ That was an adjustment for me.”
Erik Horne (NewsOK) on the question about Russell Westbrook heading into the season opener: “The Thunder’s game notes listed Westbrook as “OUT” on Tuesday, but those notes — released before teams go through shootaround the day of the game — are fluid. Per the NBA, teams must report information concerning player injuries, illness and rest for all games.”
Zach Lowe (ESPN) with his predictions for the season: “I detailed my Nuggets optimism here. Most projection systems have them No. 5 or 6 in the West, depending on Butler’s endgame. To hit this, they’ll have to leapfrog one of Houston, Utah and Oklahoma City. With Andre Roberson out, the Thunder are vulnerable. (Keep an eye on Terrance Ferguson. He has tools and a decent feel.)”
Rob Mahoney (Sports Illustrated) on how the Thunder’s culture around Russell Westbrook helped convince Paul George to re-sign: “Thunder reserve guard Raymond Felton, however, had learned enough about George over dinners and card games and long flights to see the effect the organization had had on him. “I knew how he felt about playing with Russ,” Felton says. Consider the gravity of that statement: When Kevin Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors in 2016, he traded one superstar point guard for another. He traded scowls for shimmies, headlong drives for effortless threes. Westbrook had looked Durant in the eye that summer and asked him how he could change. On July 4, Durant’s move carried with it his truthful response: I don’t think you can.”