What have you done for me lately? If you are the Oklahoma City Thunder, you should go confidently into your first round match-up with the Portland Trailblazers. The Thunder just finished a regular season in which they swept the season series against division rival Portland, 4-0. But just as the slogan says about the postseason: it’s a new season.
The Portland team the Thunder will face in the playoffs will not be the same Portland team they faced in the regular season. The season-ending injury to Jusuf Nurkic late in the season wipes away a source of familiarity the Thunder are used to seeing from Portland. The entire dynamic of this series changed the minute Nurkic went down in the 73rd game of the season. Logic would have you think this benefits Oklahoma City. But in a weird way, that dynamic may be slanted more towards Portland.
The Thunder swept the season series against Portland in part because they matched up so well with them. Russell Westbrook can play Damian Lillard to, at worst, a draw. CJ McCollum has a bit of a feast or famine thing going when he faces the Thunder. And Nurkic is one of the few centers in the league that plays similar to Steven Adams. Continue reading First Round Preview: Thunder vs. Trailblazers
Armed with a $10.8 million dollar trade exception, several player assets, two empty roster spots, and a competitive team, it appeared like the perfect storm for Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti to make a move to improve the team. But as the dust settled on the league’s transactions at the 3 p.m. trade deadline, the Thunder were no where to be found on the league’s trade approval docket. Having made a small trade several days earlier when they moved guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to Chicago for a heavily protected 2nd round pick, the Thunder seemed poise to make a move.
Rumors were abound that the Thunder were interested in several wings around the league, such as Orlando’s Terrance Ross or Atlanta’s Taurean Prince. In the end though, the Thunder team that went into Thursday morning was the same team that took the floor against the Memphis Grizzlies, Thursday evening. Here are three reasons why the Thunder likely stood pat during this trade deadline. Continue reading Thunder Stand Pat at the Trade Deadline
Kameron Duncan (NBA Analysis Network) looks at three possible trades the Thunder could make: “Despite their additions, the Thunder are missing key components that can take them to the next level. At this early portion of the season, the team ranks near the bottom of the NBA in three point attempts, field goals and percentage. As we’ve seen over the last several years, outside shooting has become paramount for success in the current NBA. The Thunder have talented players, and are a formidable opponent (especially when fully healthy), but lack of shooting could be an Achilles heel in the long run.”
Jenni Carlson (NewsOK) ranks all the Thunder’s alternate jerseys: “The blue jersey featured an old-timey, script-looking Thunder running uphill across the front of the jersey. All the lettering and number was white. It was crisp and clean. It was second only to the sunset jerseys until Nike came along.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 15 November 2018
Cody Taylor (OKC Thunder Wire) on the Thunder having three of the highest salaries in the league: “The Thunder are among seven teams with three players that are inside the top 50 in salary for the 2018-19 season, including the Celtics, Rockets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Raptors and Wizards.”
Anath Pandian (24/7 Sports) interviews Enes Kanter: “Yeah, because I remember from Day 1, not just the whole [Thunder] organization, but the people here, the fans, it was like home for me. Because I did not have a home.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 29 August 2018
“Miss me with that bulls***”
Such a short statement in a long complex song. This quote, of course, is from the song “King’s Dead” by possibly the best rapper in the game currently, Kendrick Lamar.
There is something about the way that he begins the phrase.
It’s like he’s saying, “Take all the shots you want, but don’t come at me weak because you have no clue what you’re actually talking about.”
At least, that’s how I take it.
Now I’m not one to curse. Personally, I don’t see the point. But that’s neither here, nor there. So while I agree with what Mr. Lamar is saying, you won’t ever hear me say that statement. Instead, I have actually taken the concept and simplified it so that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Continue reading Miss Me With That Westbrook Slander
Charlotte Edmonds (The Observer) with a piece on Russell Westbrook that will have many of us nodding our heads in agreement: “I’m not trying to suggest that Westbrook is a great player by virtue of his commitment to one team. By that logic, Udonis Haslem would’ve been inducted to the Hall of Fame by now. Rather, I’m arguing that players like Westbrook represent one of the things that are still great about sports — standing by a community instead of trading in a “sacred legacy for cheap jewelry,” in the words of Reggie Miller.”
Micah Adams and Scott Rafferty (NBA.com) look at Kobe Bryant’s top 40 rivals as he turns 40 years of age: “Some of the biggest names in today’s NBA see shades of Kobe when they watch Westbrook. Even Kobe sees it. According to Lakers Nation, Kobe said Westbrook is the player who reminds him the most of himself. “When I turn on the TV and I watch players play, the player that plays with the same kind of emotion and grit and competitive intensity is Russell.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 23 August 2018
Tim Bontemps (Washington Post) says the Thunder didn’t make a mistake in trading for Carmelo Anthony: “Before the Anthony trade, the Thunder was a franchise in a state of flux. Russell Westbrook had yet to sign a long-term contract extension, and there was no guarantee he would. Paul George had been acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Indiana Pacers three months earlier, giving Oklahoma City a second star to pair with Westbrook after Kevin Durant departed in free agency, but there was no indication George would stick around for the long term.”
Kevin O’Connor (The Ringer) on how the acquisition of Dennis Schröder may help change Russell Westbrook: “But Oklahoma City’s style needs to change, and Donovan knows it. The Thunder have ranked near the bottom of the league in passing metrics—from possession time to assists—during Donovan’s tenure, but he regularly says during his press conferences that he wants better movement.” Continue reading NTTB Thunder Rumblings – 24 July 2018
Jack Maloney (CBS Sports) on the Thunder’s title odds increasing if/when Carmelo Anthony departs: “This, as Oh shows, is the epitome of addition by subtraction. In the end, it was probably a good gamble to take for the Thunder to acquire Anthony. You need as much talent as possible to challenge for a title, and Anthony was one of the only high-talent players available for the Thunder. It obviously didn’t work, as Anthony was further past his prime than people realized.”
Some pictures and videos from the Enes Kanter camp in Oklahoma City, which was held free of charge with no kid being denied entry.
Haley O’Shaughnessy (The Ringer) on where Carmelo Anthony may end up: “These aren’t your mom’s Clippers anymore—they’ve traded Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan is now in Dallas for real, Austin Rivers and all nepotism is gone, and Jerry West is in the corner burning sage; finally, L.A. has a fresh start. There is a catch in losing three stars, even if those stars were, in the end, dragging the franchise down: The front office has to prove it can cater to a star once again.” Continue reading NTTB Thunder Rumblings – 09 July 2018
Tim Bontempts (Washington Post) looks at the biggest questions facing the Thunder this offseason: “It ended with Russell Westbrook taking 43 shots for the second time in as many years in a playoff game – both Thunder losses – and getting into confrontations with fans at halftime and after the game. It ended with Thunder Coach Billy Donovan going down with the Carmelo Anthony ship, playing the fading star with the season on the line when all evidence suggested the team would be better with Anthony on the bench.”
Albert Dadson (Hoops Habit) on the Thunder’s options for Carmelo Anthony moving forward: “Anthony wants to be more involved in the Thunder’s offense if he comes back. The problem with trying to get rid of Carmelo Anthony is the fact that he will have the final say in his status for next year thanks to a player option for the final year of his contract.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 08 May 2018