Thunder At A Glance: 04 December 2018

img_4063ESPN’s panel of basketball experts answered some questions in regards to the Western Conference: “I expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to be the second-best come May. Oklahoma City currently sports the West’s second-best differential behind the Denver Nuggets, and that’s despite Russell Westbrook missing eight games due to injury. The Thunder will still add stopper Andre Roberson to what’s already been the league’s best defense on a per-possession basis and have plenty of playoff experience.”

ESPN has OKC number 5 in their weekly power rankings: “The Thunder did exactly what they were supposed to in a light week, winning both games against the lowly Cavaliers and Hawks by a combined 32 points. They have now won 14 of 17 games to quietly inch closer to the top of the Western Conference. Paul George has been outstanding, averaging 25.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.6 APG and 3.0 combined steals and blocks during his last 10 games to keep the Thunder competitive even when Russell Westbrook has had to sit.”

Zach Lowe (ESPN) on liking this version of Jerami Grant: “In Year 5, the game is starting to click for him. He’s shooting 36 percent from deep on a career-high number of attempts (by far), and he’s actually been much better on longer, non-corner 3s — probably an encouraging sign. We can’t assume Grant will keep hitting at that pace. We shouldn’t assume otherwise, either.”

Russell Westbrook hit Reggie Jackson with the “rock-a-bye” and let him know about it afterwards:

Erik Horne (NewsOK) recaps the Thunder’s victory over the Pistons: “The Thunder may have had better statistical performances this season on offense, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive domination of a solid team on OKC’s early resume. The Pistons, winners of five consecutive games entering Monday, were ran off the floor.”

Nick Gallo (NewsOK) looks back at the defensive clinic the Thunder put on in Detroit: “The concentration, focus and commitment was clear coming out of the locker room. Defensively, the Thunder was disruptive in the passing lanes, forcing six turnovers. Off the ball, Russell Westbrook was sprinting to the wing while calling out coverages to Schröder and rushing back into the lane for deflections, and that constant motion was contagious.”

Brad Botkin (CBS Sports) on how Dennis Schroder and Jerami Grant have helped make the Thunder contenders: “When it’s all working, this gives the Thunder three legitimate one-on-one creators, which can give defenses fits. Teams will tell you that come playoff time, the scouting becomes so in-depth, and the knowledge of opponents’ offensive actions, over a seven-game series, becomes so second-nature that defenses often know what’s coming before it happens. In other words, systems don’t create shots as easily. Screening actions are sniffed out. In the end, the more guys you have who can simply create offense out of thin air, who can stare down a set defense and flat-out beat their guy one on one, the better.”

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