Erik Horne (NewsOK) looks at the year that was for Russell Westbrook: “Before his nine 3-point attempts against Milwaukee with George injured, Westbrook had averaged 1.9 per game in his last seven. The Thunder went 6-1 and Westbrook shot 55.5 percent from the field. “Russell was the MVP last year and he’s having to play different,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Carmelo, an incredible scorer and an elite player in this league for a long time, he’s had to change. Same thing for Paul, Patrick Patterson or any of these guys. Everybody’s had to change a little bit for the betterment of the team.”
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Line: OKC -6.5 | O/U – 205.5
Seven games in and the Oklahoma City Thunder are still looking for that statement victory. They beat the Knicks, Pacers, and Bulls pretty handily, like they were supposed to. And for as good as Giannis Antetokounmpo has been, the Bucks are still an inconsistent, middle of the conference team in the East. The three games against sturdier competition have resulted in losses.
So the Thunder still find themselves in search of that one signature win. As they continue figuring out the puzzle pieces that is their revamped team, the pendulum seems to be swinging towards the direction of them getting this thing figured out. Each player now has a role of what role they play on this team. Will that change as the season progresses? Probably. But the most important part of knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it seems to no longer be puzzling the Thunder players. And that is a scary thought for the rest of the league. Continue reading Celtics vs. Thunder preview (Game 8 of 82)→
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.”
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→