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This, Kanter, is the first time Westbrook has had a bona fide pick and roll partner. As good as Serge is, his hands have always been kind of bad, and he's not adept at putting the ball on the floor. This team is smoking. I see Durant getting to play a lot more like Dirk when he comes back -- being able to get the ball in his favorite spots without having to dribble around to get there.
2 days, 23 hours ago on Wednesday Bolts – 2.25.15
Per starting Roberson: The tone of a player's game is often set in the first 10-or-so minutes. You have a guy on you shutting you down, you lose a little confidence, pass up a few shots, hustle a little bit less. Roberson is the type of guy who can take a guy out of a game long after he leaves the floor.
5 days, 1 hour ago on Fun Thunder have fun and stomp the Nuggets, 119-94
Say what you will about Brooks, the very bottom line of it has always been that this team looks like a pick-up team at the gym. That's a team with no coach.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Friday Bolts – 1.9.15
@f5alcon How so? They're in a crap situation with Bledsoe. He's going to walk next year with them getting nothing for him. In this scenario, they get a young 2-guard to pair with Dragic, who will be a restricted free-agent that they can likely lock up long-term for a reasonable price (prob a similar deal to what they offered Bledsoe this year). Then, they get PJ3: a stretch-4 a la Channing Frye, who can only improve under the tutelage of shooting guru Jeff Hornacek. Aaand, they get another 1st round pick (albeit probably a late one). Aaaaaand, they do it without adding any salary (Jackson and PJ3 make a combined $3.5 mil). What's not to like???
5 months, 1 week ago on Thursday Bolts – 9.18.14
@FunakiEjectsAnother [#StartLambFaction] Ya. There's literally no reason not to do it other than for the fear that either Westbrook or Bledsoe goes down with another knee injury. This deal would return this team to the level they were at when they had Harden (except with better defense!).
@f5alcon You're absolutely right. If Bledsoe signs the qualifying offer, he's playing for that for a paycheck the next season no matter where he is. No team is going to turn around and pay him the max next year. He does have to approve the trade, and I can't see why he wouldn't sign off on a deal that sends him to a championship favorite that will help him get that max deal on the free-agent market next year.
Is it possible that OKC has one last move in them this offseason? Eric Bledsoe looks like he's going to sign his qualifying offer for $3.73 mil at the end of the month, and he's probably not going to sign with PHX after this season. Why not send Reggie Jackson, PJ3, and a first-rounder to PHX for one year of Bledsoe? A backcourt of Westbrook and Bledsoe would immediately become tops in the league defensively, offensively, and for sheer entertainment -- and, barring any more knee injuries, that team would have to be the front-runners to make it to the finals.
Reggie is a bad option as a starter, and he doesn't want to come off the bench. So, isn't a Reggie + Perk package sufficient to go get a sign and trade guy like Lance Stephenson or Gordon Hayward? Perk is attractive because he's in the final year of his contract, and would clear 9 mil from our books. Reggie is an up-and-coming PG who's playing for pennies right now. Between Reggie and Perk, we'd be able to offer Hayward or Stephenson at least $11 mil this year, not counting the $6 mil trade exception.
8 months ago on Tuesday Bolts – 7.1.14
"Because that day is probably coming eventually, likely when (if!) they re-sign Westbrook and Durant to their third contracts and they enter their primes. They’re just trying to delay it for as long as possible..." The OKC leadership can't have it both ways. If they want to keep Russ and KD, they need to spend the money (and go into the Lux Tax) to bring in the role players who will get them a title. They brought that on themselves by drafting poorly these last couple go-rounds (although Adams is a great piece), being slow to develop young players during the regular season (see: Lamb, PJIII, Roberson), retaining a coach who fails to combine individual players' immense talent into a cohesive system that maximizes the team's performance, and making some ill-advised trades (see: Harden for Adams, Lamb, McGary). Unfortunately, KD and Westbrook have probably already caught on to what the fans haven't yet: the leadership of this team is less interested in winning a title than it is in keeping the status quo, making money, and keeping butts in seats. As long as KD-Westbrook-Ibaka are around, the latter will persist, even if they don't win a title or give that big 3 the supporting cast they need. I just don't think Russ and KD are going to tolerate that. Spend now or lose them in a couple of years.
8 months ago on Thunder free agency primer
The fact that the Spurs took Kyle Anderson speaks to the fact we should have taken him. Not sure how Huestis is the better choice. Don't we already have a young defensive wing who can't shoot and never plays (Roberson)? Also, if Reggie Jackson moves into the starting 5, who exactly plays point guard? McGary? Awful, awful draft.
8 months ago on Thunder select Mitch McGary with the 21st pick
Best bet would be to get Shumpert for #29 and take Kyle Anderson at #21. I don't think Jackson is a good option as the starting 2 because neither he nor Westbrook are above-average defenders. The only way to keep Jax out of the starting 5 is to get an established player like Shumpert. Anderson would fill the back-up 3/4 need on the team, and be a huge help as a crafty distributor for Lamb and Jackson, and also offer some decent wing defense by nature of his length.
8 months, 1 week ago on Draft Thoughts: Options and more options
You look at this team, and there's a huge problem with depth. A lot of it starts with the fact that Thabo Sefalosha's abysmal post-season makes it impossible to bring him back. There's no doubt about Thabo's importance during the season as a wing defender, but his short-comings offensively basically showed that he cannot be relied on in the post season. For a team that has proven everything, except that they can go all the way in the playoffs, Thabo's regular season contributions aren't enough to bring him back. That means you basically have to move Reggie Jackson into the starting five. Whether or not it's the best thing for the team to pair the defensive shortcomings of Westbrook and Jackson in the starting five, you simply can't plug a draft pick or a free-agent into that starting 2-guard position when Reggie's paid his dues. That leaves you with no back-up point guard, and Jeremy Lamb as your back-up 2. There's basically no one to back up the 3 spot for Durant, and Collison is the closest thing to backing up the 4 for Ibaka. That bench is unacceptable. This team needs a backup point guard who can run an offense, a back-up 3 who can generate shots for himself, and a back-up 4 who can grab rebounds and play in the post. That's a lot to ask for going into an offseason where you have the 21st and 28th picks in the draft, and your only clearing as much as $5 mil in free-agency (Sefalosha + Fisher + Butler = $5 mil).
9 months ago on Monday Bolts – 6.2.14
After OKC beat the Clippers in 6, and before we heard that Ibaka would miss the remainder of the playoffs with his injury, I had a confidence in this team that, frankly, made me a bit uncomfortable. All the little signs that had made fans pull out their hair and question the viability of this team and its coach had actually appeared to me to be signs of a team whose strength was in its ability to overcome its own shortcomings on a game-to-game basis. Durant couldn't seem to get it together in Round 1, as Tony Allen put the clamps on him, and the world had turned against Russell Westbrook. But somehow, they made it. On a night when Durant simply couldn't get anything going, Mr. May, Reggie Jackson, saved the day with an unexpectedly huge performance. And then, with their backs to the wall in a Game 6 in Memphis, they grinded their way to victory over a team that seemed impossible to out-grind. Then they finished them with an exclamation point at home. Then, against a Clippers team on a mission, they overcame a blowout loss in Game 1, fueled by an emotional speech by their leader Kevin Durant that transformed Russell Westbrook from the crux of all criticism to nightly triple-double threat who imposed his will against Sir Chris Paul. The defense ratcheted up. Serge Ibaka was playing superhuman defense against the leader of Griffen Force, and the other half of Lob City couldn't seem to stay in games with foul trouble. Steven Adams started coming into his own as an uncontrollable force, and the Thunder, for the first time ever, appeared to have a front-court whose athleticism matched the rest of their team. They gave up huge leads to lose games, but then took them back in others, then kept them. They shook the unshakeable force of Chris Paul, and knocked out the Clippers on their own court. They were rolling in to play a San Antonio team that they had beaten 10 of the previous 12 times out, and, there didn't seem to be any reason to think that they wouldn't keep up that split in the Western Conference Finals. Now there's a reason to think that they won't: spotting the Spurs two games and relying on a gimpy Serge Ibaka to protect the paint from Parker, Ginobili, Duncan, and Splitter. If the Thunder can somehow come back to beat the Spurs, it will only add to the narrative, a narrative that trumps anything the Miami Heat could conjure this post-season. And, were it not for the Ibaka injury, I would be very confident going into that Finals with home-court advantage. Ibaka was playing the best interior defense of his career (and, despite the injury, he continues to do so). Between Ibaka and Adams, the Thunder appeared to have the athletic front-court that gives Miami so much trouble. Westbrook was playing to his potential as both an attacker and a distributor. The support from Jackson and Westbrook and Ibaka actually made Durant seem more relaxed than usual, and more honed in in those moments where he was needed (see: back-to-back-to-back three-pointers). Here's hoping that Ibaka can keep defying the odds. Not just for OKC and their fans, but because, if the Thunder make it to the Finals, and manage to win it, this will have been one of the greatest playoff runs in some time. Imagine the montage of this post-season for OKC: the Reggie Jackson game to prevent going down 3-1, then down 3-2 to Memphis, two huge wins, the blowout in Game 1 against LA, "the speech" during KD's MVP ceremony, subsequent back-to-back triple doubles by Russell Westbrook, the Ibaka injury, down 0-2 to San Antonio, the Ibaka return, fill in the rest here. Win or lose, what a freaking ride this Summer. You got to love this team.
9 months, 1 week ago on Tuesday Bolts – 5.27.14
If you look at this game from a long-view, the Thunder got exactly what they wanted in this game. They mostly kept Blake, DeAndre and CP3 out of the paint, and made the Clippers settle for jumpers. If the Clippers starters don't shoot 61% from the field, and shoot more of the league average (about 48%), this is a completely different game. The Thunder's offense never got going because there simply weren't any misses for them to run off of. We have to assume that LA regresses to the mean on their shooting, which will push things in the Thunder's favor. That being said, another classic Brooks moment last night: he's got Westbrook, Jackson, Durant, and Butler in all at once -- going small and fast -- except he's kept Perkins in the game who has to spend 3 minutes getting gassed out before Brooks realizes that he needs to sub in the more athletic Adams. Also(!), can someone put together a compilation of all the deer-in-the-headlights looks from Brooks over that last four playoffs series?
9 months, 4 weeks ago on CP3 and the Clippers smoke the Thunder in Game 1, 122-105
This victory in no way reprieves Brooks. Why did it take 4.5 games of impaired offense to make the switch in the starting line-up? Why does this team have to reach the brink of elimination for him to give more minutes to the only guy on this team with the combination of size and speed (and nastiness, even if it is just playing like a tasmanian devil) to truly bother Gasol and Randolph? Great coaches make adjustments when they need to be made. They don't wait until their job is on the line. That's why crappy coaches (should) get fired and good ones don't.
10 months ago on Say My Name: Kevin Durant sends the Thunder to a Game 7
Scott Brooks has been a terrible coach for 3 years now. Before that, his rah-rah mentality, and a team that had the added talent of a James Harden, was sufficient for a young team. This is a veteran team now, and the playoffs are hard. The team Brooks has put together looks more like a pick-up team than a professional team that practices together and plays 82 games together every year. That works during the regular season when you have an uber-talented team, in the same way that it works at gym. But once the playoffs come around, and teams are game-planning for you and making in-series adjustments, you have to be able to coach. Brooks can't do it, won't do it. Everyone wants to put so much blame on Westbrook, but his flaws are apparent in each of the guys who come up the court with ball, be it Durant, Jackson, or Fisher. They dribble around for 12 seconds before making a pass or throwing up an ill-advised shot. That's on the coach, not on the players. A good coach would encourage ball movement, movement of players away from the ball, screening away from the ball to get open shots. Instead, Brooks has put together a philosophy where whoever's got the hot hand gets to dribble around and shoot. That's not how you win a championship.
10 months ago on Too little, too late: Thunder fall in Game 5
@FozzyYozzy Love the question. The only consolation of losing in the first round will be axe-ing Brooks. We've been saying for years what a joke he was of a coach. Anyone can see it.
Personally, I'm gonna be watching Thabo tonight. In the last contest with LAC, he got shredded by Reddick and Crawford on the curl plays. We're a lot better when he's a lock-down defender on 2's. Let's hope he shows us a little of that tonight.
1 year, 3 months ago on Clippers vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
I LOVE the idea of getting Iman Shumpert here, but I can't think of any way it actually happens. Everyone in the league knows that Thabeet is a bum, meaning a draft pick would probably have to be thrown in. But, if Presti could figure it out, I could see Shumpert, at 6'5", running as a defensive stopper with that second unit, and potentially pushing Thabo for minutes.
1 year, 3 months ago on Thursday Bolts – 11.21.13
1 year, 3 months ago on Andre Iguodala crushes souls as the Warriors top OKC, 116-115
A few things that had me pulling my hair out these last two games. First and foremost: Steven Adams needs a serious education on how to play defense. He has the size and athleticism, but the guy gets caught ball watching so often that it's hard to imagine that other teams aren't noticing. Not only is it a problem that he's leaving his man wide open to slash the lane or receive a pass right under the rim, but his on ball defense on smaller players is horrendous -- swiping for steals and failing to simply stay in front of the ballhandler. Perk and Collison need to really tutor this guy on when to stay home and how to move his feet. Honestly, the way GS and LAC were shredding up the lane, I actually kind of missed Perk's defense. Adams' ball-watching goes for rebounds too. Way too many rebounds were looked at rather that attacked, and I think that speaks to him needing to come off the bench. Adams has all the makings of a great rebounder, but it seems as though when he gets in foul trouble early, he gets tentative about crashing the boards. Second, what's up with Thabo? The dude's defense has seriously slipped these last two games, as he's been unable to keep up with his man -- whether it was Reddick, Paul, Curry, or Thompson -- and left guys wide open on a number of occasions. What's more, his newfound desire to score is resulting in several missed buckets and turnovers. Combined with his horrendoues 3-point shooting, I've been wildly disappointed with him thus far. Third, TOO MUCH DRIBBLING. Jackson, Sefolosha, Westbrook, and Durant are all guilty of turning the ball over too much because they're trying to dribble around the three-point line like Globetrotters. On the bright side, I think in general the pick-and-roll offense is wildly improved. If you look at what this team is severely lacking, it's that 2-guard who can hit threes. Thabo's defense has slipped enough that his offensive insufficiency is actually a problem.
Could not agree more with Scoop Jackson! I've been thinking about this ever since Brooks said that KD needs to become more of a distributor. That is INSANE! Did anyone ever ask Dirk at the height of his powers to distribute the ball more? Of course not, because that would be ridiculous logic for a 6'11" guy who can't be stopped from scoring. Sound familiar?
1 year, 4 months ago on Thursday Bolts – 10.24.13
To me, Adams still looks a little lost out there, and I could see him getting only about 15 minutes a game for the first half of the season. That being said, Brooks needs to coach him up on finding his "spot" (which looks like it's right there in the low post) and getting there. Yes, he needs to set screens for everyone, but when you have a guy with his athleticism, his hands, and his size you need him hanging out in the post drawing double-teams, ripping down boards, and clearing out space for guys like Jackson and Lamb. I fear that Adams, much like Aldrich and Mullens before him, will fail to take the next step (which I don't think is all too far away), because Brooks has him running around like a chicken with his head cut off around the perimeter.
1 year, 4 months ago on Preseason Thoughts: Bulls 104, Thunder 95
A couple things. The thunder should have really tried to get a big man who can play with his back to the basket. That's what this team is missing, and losing Harden without acquiring that is a problem.
On the upside, yes, Martin is an expiring contract, which means that he could be a trading chip in a few months.
2 years, 4 months ago on Deal the Beard: What just happened?
The Thunder may not be a totally "complete" team. For example, they completely lack a post presence. However, it's hard to imagine any other team being able to keep up with them for 48 minutes. It's not just the pace that KD, Westbrook, Ibaka, Sefalosha put on you with the first unit, but you're looking at a second unit that's unparalleled. When the Lakers inevitably get worn out, what is their second unit going to do against Maynor, Harden, JonesIII, and Collison? The only move that would make them stronger would be to offload Perkins for a big man who can keep up with the rest of that first unit, because he becomes a non-factor when they really want to turn it up.
2 years, 4 months ago on Tuesday Bolts – 10.23.12