Michael Kinney (Clutch Points) on how the Thunder will likely use their 2-way contracts: “In the past, according to NBA rules, players who were signed to an NBA team were allowed to go back and forth to the D-League as many times as they wanted. The Thunder used the system liberally with players such as Josh Huestis, Reggie Jackson and Perry Jones. NBA teams can still use their rosters in the same way, but with the addition of two-way contracts, you could see that phasing its way out.”
Jonathan Tjarks (The Ringer) says the Russell Westbrook Show is over. In it’s place, is the Thunder variety hour: “In the first few weeks of the season, Westbrook is doing everything he can to make the adjustment process as smooth as possible. The guy who shattered the record for usage rate in a season is gone. Westbrook is shooting less both Carmelo and George are, and his 15.4 attempts per game is the lowest since his second season in the league. The result is a more balanced offense. Instead of Oklahoma City’s second-leading scorer (Victor Oladipo) taking 10 fewer shots a game than Westbrook was, their Big Three all average between 15 and 18. Westbrook still holds the ball for most of the game, but he’s looking to pass as much as he is to score. He is not a volume shooter anymore. The guy whose extreme athleticism redefined the point guard position suddenly has the numbers of a traditional point guard. Westbrook is averaging career highs in assists (11.7) and field goal percentage (47.2).” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 03 Nov 2017
This whole “two games in a week” thing is for the birds. Can we go back to having 3 or 4 games in a week?
Jeremy Lambert (Thunderous Intentions) on the tired narrative that Westbrook can’t play with other: “The pre-determined narrative that “Westbrook can’t play with others” based on the Thunder not winning a title and Kevin Durant leaving for Golden State is already tired. Oladipo underperformed last year in a role that he wasn’t ready for. He was brought in to be the scorer off the bench for the Westbrook-Durant duo. Durant left, putting Oladipo in a starting role. Oladipo’s shooting numbers were up from his time in Orlando and his scoring average was .1 worse. He didn’t have a bad offensive season. He just didn’t have the kind of offensive season that you would want the number 2 guard on a playoff team to have.”
Jack Maloney (CBS Sports) on the impact Raymond Felton is having on the Thunder: “When our team needs movement and cutting, he [Felton] creates that. When he needs to settle ’em down, he settles ’em down. He’s done a really, really good job from day one coming in, just with his presence,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said at shootaround the morning before Felton finished with nine points and six rebounds in 19 minutes to help OKC get an emphatic 110-91 victory on the road over the Milwaukee Bucks. “Whether it’s dead balls or free throws, coming out of timeouts, on the court, he does a really good job. He’s got such a good feel for the game. He’s a smart player, he’s got a high IQ. He can get things organized out there.”
Want to help the Thunder help the community? Here’s how you can be a part of that. Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 02 Nov 2017
Welcome to the holiday season (or is it szn, now?).
Royce Young (ESPN) on the Thunder’s convincing victory over the Milwaukee Bucks: “Playing on the road against the Bucks was a good test to gauge where the Thunder stood and whether the positive momentum of the past few games would continue to build. And the Thunder set the tone early, as Westbrook sparked their best half of the season, a dominant first 24 minutes that put the Bucks on their heels. “That first half, that’s how I would love to see us play,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I feel like when we play like that the floor’s so spaced it takes advantage of all those guys.”
Royce Young on the Thunder not picking up Josh Huestis’ 4th year option: “The Thunder elected to not exercise the $2.2 million team option for a few reasons, a primary one being the lack of evidence on Huestis and his fit with the roster. Before this season, he’d appeared in only seven total games in two years. Future roster and luxury tax implications also factored in, with the Thunder’s planning for the hopeful re-signing of both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Committing to pay Huestis $2.2 million next season could translate to as much as $7 million with relation to the tax.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 01 Nov 2017
Erik Horne (NewsOK) on Paul George finding his rhythm: “Throughout the game we know Russ is going to push the tempo, really create all the mismatches with his aggressiveness and attacking the floor,” George said. “But yeah, if I get going early, especially being a shooter out there, it’ll only open up the game for all of us.” George has found a rhythm early in games for the Thunder so far, one which could be a boon for a Thunder team feeling out who shoots when this season.”
The NBA’s version of Cain and Abel featuring Jerami Grant and Jerian Grant.
Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on Giannis Antetokounmpo giving the Thunder their biggest defensive test yet: “I think the biggest thing with him is trying to take away that deep paint where he’s getting all the way to the rim, because then he’s a monster finishing,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “But he’s also a really good passer. He sprays the ball around really well and obviously, they’ve got good shooting on the perimeter. He’s an incredible player.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 31 Oct 2017 (Halloween edition)
Today feels like revenge. I don’t know why, but it just does.
Kristian Winfield (SB Nation) on Paul George and Carmelo Anthony finally having the perfect superstar teammate: “Here is Westbrook — reigning league MVP, all-time single-season triple-double leader, and walking terminator — who carried his team of non All-Stars to a competitive first-round exit to the Houston Rockets in the playoffs. Now, enter two more All-Stars, two more egos, and two more offensive superstars who each need to eat to be satisfied. Or so we thought. That’s the beauty of what Anthony said. Russell Westbrook can have the main course — let Melo and PG-13 have the sides.”
David Brandon (16 Wins A Ring) looks at the shooting guards on the roster: “Huestis is the surprise. After barely playing, and even then largely playing at the 4, Huestis has seen significant backcourt and frontcourt minutes over the last few games. He’s definitely not where he needs to be yet on rotations, but Huestis might wind up a usable member of the team, which not many observers expected. Though he’s worse defensively than Roberson and worse offensively than Abrines, he’s more well-rounded than both, with a clean release on his 3-point shot and good balance navigating screens on the perimeter. He fouls too much, but that might work itself out with time. Don’t fool yourself—at this point he’s maaaaaybe replacement level. But that might be just enough for now.”
The Thunder are looking to do what every beauty queen vows to do: fight hunger: “The Oklahoma City Thunder and Whataburger have partnered to help fight hunger in Oklahoma during this holiday season through a food drive at next Friday’s Thunder game and a three-week fundraiser at Whataburger restaurants.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 27 Oct 2017
Great win last night. Sure wish Oladipo could have consistently played like that for the Thunder last season.
Jeremy Lambert (Thunderous Intentions) would like to remind you the sky is not falling in regards to the Thunder: “We’re one week into the NBA season and the OKC Thunder sit at 2-2. Not a bad record, but given the firepower on the squad, most fans probably hoped for better. And it could be 3-1 if not for an Andrew Wiggins buzzer beater, so the sky isn’t exactly falling. That’s the theme for this column: the sky is not falling. Neither is Paul George’s shot, Russell Westbrook’s free throws or Andre Roberson’s anything.”
Royce Young (ESPN) on Paul George’s struggles against his former team: “George then fouled out with 6:15 left in the fourth, with only 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting in 19 minutes. “That hasn’t happened often in my career,” George said of winning the game despite his struggles. “Fortunate to have those guys carry me. They knew how big this game was for me, and they went out and got it for me.”
The Thunder opened up a new basketball court in Calumet. Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 26 October 2017
Kyle Wagner (FiveThirtyEight) on the Thunder’s sudden inability to rebound: “However, the George and Anthony moves do seem to have had an effect on another piece of the team’s core identity: For the first time in a decade, the Thunder are struggling to rebound. The Thunder have grabbed just 47.5 percent of available rebounds in their first three games — about 6 percentage points lower than last year and 24th in the league. As a team, the Thunder haven’t finished outside the top 10 since they moved to Oklahoma City.”
When the robots finally attack, they can point its genesis to the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Clifton Brown (Indy Star) on Paul George facing his old team for the first time: “There was no way to reconcile those conflicting emotions, as George prepared to play his first game against the Pacers on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. George was smiling and had the aura of a man at peace after Tuesday’s practice at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s practice facility. But George admitted that the timing of his departure from the Pacers was awkward and that if he could do it again, he would have handled some things differently.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 25 Oct 2017
Royce Young (ESPN) on the referees missing two calls down the stretch against the Thunder: “The NBA announced Monday that there was one incorrect no-call and noted the officiating crew didn’t see Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau calling for timeout in the final five seconds of the frantic finish against the Thunder that led to Andrew Wiggins’ game-winning buzzer-beater Sunday. Karl-Anthony Towns’ screen on Paul George that freed Wiggins was ruled to have been illegal, based on Towns’ stance being too wide. The report notes that Towns was stationary but his leg was out, which clipped George.”
Jack Maloney (CBS Sports) with a great break-down of the Thunder last 10 possessions in crunch time: “Thus, as Sunday night’s matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves went down to the wire, the new-look Thunder were put into a close game for the first time. Last season, there was no debate who would have the ball in the clutch: Russell Westbrook. But with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George — each a No. 1 option used to having the ball down the stretch for his old team — now in town, how they would handle end of game situations was one of the main questions heading into the season.”
Sports Illustrated on the influence Twitter has on the NBA’s media coverage. Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 24 Oct 2017
Tough one last night. But we move on…
Royce Young (ESPN) on the crazy finish from last night’s game: “It was the perfect finish, the ideal answer to the first crunch time test for the new look Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook remained the clutch-time king, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the final five minutes. But in the biggest spot, after Karl-Anthony Towns put the Minnesota Timberwolves up two with 8.9 seconds remaining, Westbrook did what many within the team claimed he’d do, but many outside were skeptical of — he found the open man. He drove right at Carmelo Anthony’s defender, and dropped a pass off to an open Anthony, who splashed the go-ahead 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left. Then, Andrew Wiggins went and messed it all up.”
Kent Youngblood (Star Tribune) gives a recap of the game from the other side: “Andrew Wiggins did not call glass. After the game was over, surrounded by reporters, taking all sorts of abuse from his teammates, Wiggins admitted that much. “No,” Wiggins said, smiling. “I did not.” A few lockers down, Karl-Anthony Towns laughed. “He called ‘game,’ ” Towns said.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 23 Oct 2017