4 min read

Friday Bolts – 12.30.16

Friday Bolts – 12.30.16

Chris Mannix of The Vertical with smart Thunder thoughts: “And here’s another thing: Maybe


OKC isn’t after Griffin. Oh, they would take him. The thought of a Westbrook-Griffin tandem is terrifying, particularly in transition, where the two uber-athletes would be monsters in the open floor. But GM Sam Presti isn’t foolish enough to put the fate of the franchise in a 27-year-old’s desire to return to his roots. Presti is trying to build a conference contender — and maybe he already has one. Not now, of course. Golden State is the class of the conference and Oklahoma City has one of the youngest starting lineups in the NBA. But the new Collective Bargaining Agreement offers hope to teams built to be balanced, not star heavy — albeit a hope that likely won’t be realized for two or three seasons.”

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com: “Rich Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports Group, tweeted All-Star votes for almost every one of its clients. Klutch has kicked ass in a lot of negotiations. Teams either fear them or find them irritating — exactly what Klutch clients should want. They work hard. Contract talks and All-Star promotion are discrete things. Still: It’s hard for me to take their arguments seriously when they vote Ben McLemore to the All-Star Game. McLemore may get a bonus if he makes the team, but that doesn’t make the boosterism any less icky. Maybe I’m just old and cranky. But if we’re going to consider All-Star appearances serious things — if they factor into salary and Hall of Fame credentials — shouldn’t we take the process seriously?”

Erik Horne: “It’s no secret the Thunder offense lacks individual playmakers, and Westbrook knows it as his responsibility and usage rate has increased. So, with Victor Oladipo and Cameron Payne still out with injuries, Westbrook can’t afford to be in positions where he can get ejected from games, otherwise the shot creation options all but evaporate. Call it an indictment of the Thunder’s roster construction, but within the prism of Thursday’s game only, ask these questions: Could OKC have come back trailing by 16 midway through the third quarter? It wouldn’t be easy, but with Westbrook, it’s possible. Could OKC have come back trailing by 16 midway through the third quarter without Westbrook? Subtracting a player of his caliber and not having Oladipo … highly unlikely.”

Russ ain’t happy with officiating.

Brett Dawson: “Andre Roberson can neither confirm nor deny the story. But here’s the story: After a shootaround this week in Miami, Roberson buried some free throws — as many as five in a row, a teammate suggested — with his eyes closed.”

ESPN Stats and Info: “Westbrook had 21 points, but only five rebounds and no assists in the 34-point loss. It marked the third time in Westbrook’s career that he finished with no assists in a game. He not only had no assists, he had no assist opportunities in the whole game (despite making 33 passes). For now, Westbrook is still statistically safe. He’s averaging 10.6 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game. But his chances of recording a triple-double season dropped from 22 percent to 15 percent, according to our triple-double tracker. In Oscar Robertson’s 1961-62 triple-double season (the only one in NBA history), he had at least three assists in every game.”

Brett Dawson: “Shots weren’t falling; passes were contested. For the Thunder, Thursday at the FedEx Forum had been a slog from the start. Russell Westbrook wasn’t around for the finish. On a night when the Grizzlies’ defense smothered Oklahoma City, a frustrated Westbrook picked up two technical fouls, earning an ejection in the third quarter of a 114-80 Thunder loss that he and coach Billy Donovan chalked up to lingering frustration with officiating.”

James Herbert of CBSSports.com: “When James Harden referred to the Oklahoma City Thunder as a “one-man show,” he left out the fact that it’s one of the best shows around. Westbrook has been one of the league’s finest players for years now, but what he’s done without Kevin Durant this season is on another level. The man is leading the league in scoring, averaging a triple-double and capable of dropping 51 points, 22 assists or 17 rebounds on any given night. Westbrook’s season has felt like one long, furious, two-handed dunk. His effectiveness, though, isn’t about pure aggression. Without much playmaking help, Westbrook has made his teammates better by bending opposing defenses to his will. Critics can still point to his shot selection and efficiency numbers, but the Thunder are competing because he is as dangerous as anybody with the ball in his hands. Buy a ticket if you can.”

Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com: “A consistent starter for Oklahoma City, Sabonis was left off the rankings last week due to a stretch of bad shooting performances. Yet Sabonis snapped out of his slump and scored a career-high 20 points in the Thunder’s 117-112 win over the Celtics on Friday. He remains one of the better shooters on the Thunder, shooting 44.7 percent and 41.6 percent from beyond the arc.”