Thunder At A Glance – 15 February 2019

img_4063Royce Young (ESPN) on the addition of Markieff Morris to the Thunder: “With financial constraints playing a part because of a significant luxury tax bill pending, the Thunder didn’t make a deal at the trade deadline, instead hoping to make an addition in the buyout market. Morris will provide versatility to the Thunder’s bench, backing up starting power forward Jerami Grant and providing another floor-spacing big in addition to Patrick Patterson.”

Chris Herring (FiveThirtyEight) says the Thunder are now Paul George’s team: “For years, Westbrook critics have suggested that he’d give his teams a better chance to win by taking a step back. More often than not, he ignored these voices. And once he had the spotlight to himself, he broke an NBA record for the highest single-season usage rate while also averaging a triple-double over a full season — and that 2016-17 OKC team finished sixth in the West and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Westbrook tried playing more unselfishly last season, though that largely seemed to backfire. But it seems to be working now.”

Brett Dawson and Fred Katz (The Athletic) on Markieff Morris’ fit with the Thunder: “He and Schröder developing pick-and-roll chemistry will certainly be an objective. Morris has a tendency to linger around the mid-range area after setting ball screens, but when he’s popping beyond the 3-point line, he can hurt defenses. He won the Wizards a game in Portland earlier this year (a place Thunder fans know is not exactly the easiest to win in) just because Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic kept dropping back on pick-and-pops and Morris continued heading beyond the 3-point line. He drained six triples that night in an overtime win.”

Michael Shapiro (Sports Illustrated) on Steven Adams being more than just an NBA strong man: “Adams’ assist rate is up over a full percentage point compared to his previous career high, and he’s dishing interior passes with authority. Often an outlet for Westbrook inside the free-throw line, Adams is now finding cutters with an increased verve, comfortable dropping off dimes to Grant, Noel and George. His signature flip shot is as stable as ever, with impressive touch for a 7’0” behemoth. Adams is eighth in the NBA in field goals made within five feet. He boasts a better percentage in the restricted area than Marc Gasol and Nikola Jokic. As the Thunder climb to the league’s fifth-best scoring offense, Adams’ game continues to grow. The correlation is no accident.”

Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) recaps the Thunder’s loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans: “The Thunder’s defense didn’t have that “pop” as Head Coach Billy Donovan described it right out of the gates in this one against the fourth-most prolific offense in the league. After the Pelicans ripped off an 11-0 run thanks in part to 4 Oklahoma City turnovers, but the Thunder stabilized and hit right back with a 14-4 burst of its own, but New Orleans still maintained a steady scoring flow throughout the first half. The Pelicans jumped out to a 10-2 advantage in points in the paint, but the Thunder returned the favor by outscoring the Pelicans 14-4 in the paint the rest of the period.”

Not only did Russell Westbrook triple-double for the 11th straight game, but he also passed Gary Payton for the franchise lead in points scored: “Westbrook finished with 44 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in 39 minutes Thursday. In the process, he surpassed Gary Payton for the most points in Thunder/SuperSonics franchise history, with 18,208.”

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) on what may be a preview for next season’s dunk contest: “As dynamic a dunker as Williamson is now, Diallo remembers that he was supposed to win. He entered as a clear favorite, a native of Queens with the home crowd at his back in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Willamson hadn’t yet started his junior season of high school hoops, and “didn’t have that big of a buzz yet,” Barton said.”

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