Friday Bolts: 05.08.20
On May 6, 2020, Chris Paul celebrated his 35th birthday:
Former Thunder center Nazr Mohammed is among the those graduating from college this month, having achieved a degree in liberal arts from the University of Kentucky, where he played college basketball. Mohammed is also a member of the Thunder front office.
Nick Crain (Forbes) says Billy Donovan has earned a contract extension. “Donovan has done an exceptional job staggering the three outstanding point guards on the Oklahoma City roster, ensuring there is always at least one quality ball handler and scorer on the floor at all times. The amount of production he has been able to get out of every single player from the top of the roster to the bottom has been exceptional. For a roster that was completely overhauled in the offseason before his final season under contract, there is almost nothing that Donovan could have done better as a coach this season. Not only are the young pieces of the future like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander developing incredibly quickly, but they are already being engrained with a winning culture. The impressive job he has done all season makes a great argument for him a earning a new contract.”
Colin Ward-Henninger (CBS Sports) thinks that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is among the NBA’s next wave of stars. “The centerpiece of the trade that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers last summer, Gilgeous-Alexander was having a breakout second NBA season, leading the surprisingly impressive Thunder with 19.3 points per game at the time of the coronavirus hiatus. There are a couple of reasons Gilgeous-Alexander hasn’t garnered the attention of his peers — playing in Oklahoma City is surely one of them — but perhaps the main reason is that his game doesn’t lend itself to highlight reels. He doesn’t possess the raw athleticism of Williamson or Morant, nor the flair of Doncic or Young. Instead he slowly, surgically dissects defenses — death by a thousand cuts rather than a few fell swoops.”
Chris Paul will appear in a new documentary on the Donald Sterling Scandal on the internet streaming service, Quibi. “In Blackballed, Chris Paul, Doc Rivers, DeAndre Jordan and JJ Redick, along with some of the biggest names from the worlds of sports, politics, business and media, explain how they asserted their power, leading to the most definitive and unprecedented punishment in sports history.”
Jenni Carlson (The Oklahoman) writes how CP3 remade his image in OKC. “It’s crazy to think how the perception of Paul has changed since then. Sure, his first year with the Thunder was one of his best statistical seasons as a professional — his 17.7 points, 6.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 48.9 percent shooting percentage was a combination matched or exceeded by only LeBron James and Nikola Jokic — but his image rehab is about way more than his play. Paul is seen as the engine behind arguably the most surprising team in the NBA. The reason young players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Terrance Ferguson and Lu Dort figured out how to win? The reason role players like Dennis Schröder, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams had a bigger hand in success? Paul is the answer.”
Erik Horne (The Athletic) analyzed what NBA scouts and the numbers say about SGA. “There’s deception to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s game. One might see the explosive dunks and high usage of some of the league’s young players and think that Gilgeous-Alexander is behind the curve. There’s always an element lurking and ready to surprise even those who are paying attention. Take this exercise. The Athletic spoke with numerous NBA scouts about the strengths and weaknesses of Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder’s 21-year-old point guard who was the centerpiece of the Paul George trade. More than 30 minutes into one conversation, a Western Conference scout mentioned that Gilgeous-Alexander was in an ideal situation as the second or third option on the Thunder. The scout was shocked when informed that Gilgeous-Alexander was the Thunder’s leading scorer.”