Royce Young (ESPN) says Carmelo Anthony is ready to move on from the Knicks after his Thunder debut: “I was actually surprised the first shot was that wide open,” Anthony said. “Just happy it went in, got that first shot out of the way and was able to focus on the rest of the game.” Then he missed his next seven shots. But like the rest of the Thunder, it was a slow burn as Anthony revved up in the second quarter and into the third, scoring 22 on 8-of-20 shooting in a 105-84 win over the New York Knicks on opening night.”
Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on Enes Kanter’s return to OKC: “Kanter got a long, loud ovation when he was announced among the Knicks starters. And he didn’t get the hard elbow he’d been promised from Adams, his former teammate and Stache Bro. “He was just kind pushing me and elbowing me a little,” Kanter said. “It wasn’t really nothing hard.”
Berry Tramel (NewsOK) on if Westbrook can lead the league in assists this season: “Could the Thunder buy itself insurance against any kind of disconnect by telling Westbrook to lead the league in assists? Why not? Westbrook is a why-not kind of guy, perhaps you’ve heard, and any hint of Westbrook not being able to accomplish some achievement is usually followed by Westbrook scaling that exact mountain. Can’t be an NBA point guard? Can’t lead the league in scoring? Can’t average a triple double? Can’t possibly stay in Oklahoma City without Kevin Durant? Westbrook is East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’. He’s going to do what they said can’t be done.”
Am I a homer? Heck yeah. I’m a fan of the team I write about. It’s not a difficult concept. I like to write about things I’m familiar with. I know basketball, but more specifically, I know Thunder basketball. So I write about it.
Predictions are always a difficult thing when it comes to sports. They are usually made with the caveat that a ton of variables remain static. Things such as injuries, front office moves, suspensions, chemistry can’t be taken into account.
When you look at these 20 predictions, know two things: 1) They are likely going to favor the Oklahoma City Thunder in some form or fashion. And 2) Because I know a little about basketball, I’ll never make a prediction so outlandish that it won’t have a chance of coming true. Without further ado, here are the predictions:
20. Josh Huestis will play over 750 minutes this season for the Thunder.
In his first two seasons, Huestis played a grand total of 86 minutes for the Thunder. But the third year forward looks determined to get some minutes this year, and his play in the preseason may warrant some looks. While 750 minutes may seem like a lot, that’s just 9.2 minutes per game over 82 games. I think Huestis will be a full-time NBA player this year and will get enough playing time to reach that minutes mark. Continue reading 20 Thunder-centric predictions for the season→
Igor Sopar (Clutch Points) says the Thunder got more likable this offseason: “That exact win or bust situation will force the fans to continuously tune in and track the progress. If everything clicks, and the Thunder eventually face the Warriors in the latter stages of the postseason, they will get the support of an army of neutral followers, but if any adversity causes the train to derail, there will be loads of those who will wallow in schadenfreude. The Thunder will, without any doubt, be under relentless scrutiny of the public eye over the course of the season, and a good percentage of their matchups in the upcoming season will be a must watch even for the casual fans.”
This Russell Westbrook/Nikola Jokic thing still has legs: “You mean the Flagrant 2?” said Malone following the game when asked about the incident. “Oh that’s right, they called it a Flagrant 1, I apologize.” “That goes back to last game here, that was sending a message and what I’m proud of with Nikola is that he took it, and it didn’t affect him… I think there was a message trying to be sent, and good for them.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s preseason came to a close on Tuesday with a road win over the Denver Nuggets. The Thunder finished the preseason 3-1, losing only to the Houston Rockets in their first preseason game. Also of note in that game was the fact Russell Westbrook did not play.
In the games where all the starters played, the Thunder went undefeated, ushering the era of the Thunder’s Big 3. When it comes to the preseason though, each team has a different objective for what they want to garner out of these practice games. For the Thunder, it was clear they wanted to build chemistry between Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. And they wanted to see what they had in a couple of their young guys.
There’s not a lot that can be extrapolated from four games. The Thunder likely won’t win 75% of their games this season. And the Big 3 likely won’t average just 21 minutes a game. With that said, there were some takeaways I noticed from this past week. Some are positive. Others are worrisome. Here are five takeaways from this preseason. Continue reading Five Takeaways From the Preseason→
Chris Mannix (The Vertical) on what pushes Paul George: “You need special talent to build championship teams,” George said. “It’s no secret. You feel more comfortable out there when you have guys who can play at the same level, who can play at a high level, play with high energy as well. I’m not going to be perfect every night. But to have a guy that can play at that same level that I can some nights, that I can benefit from, is a luxury. Look at Russ — the guy averaged a triple-double and had a hard time getting [in] the playoffs. It’s just hard to do in this day and age. That was one of the hardest things for me in Indy. I wanted to be there, I wanted to stay there so much. It just didn’t seem like we were going to get to that level, of having high-level talent to win a championship.”
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It’s been kind of a mixed bag when the Big 3 are out there on the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the first three games of the preseason, they have been on the court together for only 20 minutes. They have been joined in large part by Andre Roberson and Steven Adams, but have also seen time with Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson. Here are a couple findings via NBAWowy:
In that time frame, they’ve scored 22 points to their opponent’s 17 points.
They were 7/9 from inside the arc, but only 1/5 beyond the arc.
Out of the Big 3, George performed the worst, shooting just 1/4 from the field.
In their time together, Westbrook was the only one of the Big 3 to make an attempt at the rim. George and Anthony took all their shots from the perimeter (16+ feet out) when the Big 3 were together.
Adams and Roberson benefited from the attention being paid to the Big 3, going 3/3 from the field in their attempts.
Matt Moore (CBS Sports) looks at how the new superteams are playing this preseason: “The biggest question for OKC has been whether Anthony will adapt and do the little things, if he’ll move the ball, or if he’ll just be the same player he was in New York. If you want to know what a great version of Anthony looks like, watch him defend in the transition post vs. Anthony Davis, snag the board, run the break and make quick decisions, leading to a secondary assist”