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Friday Bolts – 8.12.16

Friday Bolts – 8.12.16

Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript: “The Thunder still have a competing roster, and they’ll be


gunning for the Clippers in the Western Conference standings. And New Year’s Eve could add a little magic to the night, even if it is the second time the two squads face each other in Oklahoma City this year. Let’s not forget about the OKC native, Griffin, either. The Clippers star can become a free agent at the end of this season, and the Thunder rumors have already started to churn. How will that affect his reception when he comes to Chesapeake Energy Arena? Plus, a Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul matchup never manages to disappoint.”

Berry Tramel on welcoming back KD: “But on the night of Feb. 11, Thunder fans before tipoff shouldn’t think of July 4 or Oct. 25 or Nov. 3. They should think of those 18,562 points. They should think of all those wonderfully-entertaining games that Durant helped produce the last eight years. They should think of the great shots and the great comebacks and the great victories. Durant enraptured the lives of anyone who cares about the Thunder, and he did it night after night, year after year. We like to think we’re good people here in Oklahoma. We like to think we have a decent amount of class. No better way to show it than to salute the guy who gave us so many memories for so many years. We’ve got six months to decide that we should cheer Kevin Durant.”

Thunder schedule thoughts.

Erik Horne: “The bad-blood litmus test will be early, as the Thunder will face Durant and the Warriors in Oakland on Nov. 3, just five games into OKC’s schedule. The teams meet again Jan. 18 in Oakland before Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City on Feb. 11. The final Thunder-Warriors game is March 20 in Oklahoma City. Before the Thunder gets to Durant’s return to Oklahoma City, it will have played 54 games, including two months of drastically contrasting home-road splits. In November, the Thunder will play 10 of 16 games at home, including eight of nine at The Peake from Nov. 5-15. It could be a critical stretch for a young, revamped team looking to establish its footing without Durant and Serge Ibaka.”

ESPN Stats and Info: “Westbrook’s past indicates that he’s well worth the money. He ranked second and third in the NBA in PER the past two seasons, and seventh and third in those seasons in Basketball-Reference.com’s win shares stat. Last season, Westbrook became the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), Magic Johnson (three times) and Chris Paul (once). Westbrook was second in the NBA last season in points responsible for (46.3), trailing only Harden (46.8). He has ranked first or second in the NBA in fast-break points per game in each of the last four seasons.”

The Thunder have the fewest back-to-backs.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated: “After nine years with the Thunder franchise, Durant shocked the NBA world by signing as a free agent with, of all teams, the Warriors. Golden State overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat Durant and the Thunder and win the 2016 Western Conference finals. It is way too early for Thunder fans to appreciate what the 2014 NBA MVP did for the franchise, so boos should be resounding during his awkward return to Oklahoma City.”

Brad Doolittle of ESPN Insider has OKC with the 24th hardest schedule: “The Thunder rank sixth in air miles, 27th in games with a rest advantage and last in games with two or more days of rest. Yet it comes out all right in the end. OKC must get the right teams at the right times.”