5 min read

Friday Bolts: 8.24.18

Jorge Sierra (HoopsHype) previews the 2018-19 Thunder: “WEAKNESSES: They are no longer an awful three-point shooting team, but 35.4 percent accuracy from beyond the arc is quite low for this era … Bad Russ, he of the bad shot selection and rushed decisions, can hurt the team … We saw too much of that in the last two postseasons, where Westbrook shot below 40 percent from the field … Great ball movement is not something that comes to mind when talking about Thunder basketball … Depth is improved, yet nothing to call home about … They play in a brutal conference where excellent teams will go home in the first round of the playoffs. PREDICTION: 1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Western Conference.”

Adam Wells (B/R) on James Harden’s belief that adding Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets will be easy: “Reigning NBA MVP James Harden sees no reason why Carmelo Anthony will have any problems fitting in with the Houston Rockets. Talking to The Players’ Tribune, Harden said it will be “easy” to acclimate Anthony into the rotation because the Rockets are a team with “many high IQ guys around” already… Anthony’s biggest challenge will be getting his scoring touch back. The 10-time All-Star averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game and shot a career-worst 40.4 percent with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.”

Dan Feldman (NBC Sports) on the Thunder securing Paul George and continuing to spend: “Yet, just when the walls of Thunder’s yearlong recruitment of George appeared to be caving in, George re-signed – even locking in for three years (with a fourth-year player option on his max contract). Keeping George – who likely never would have even considered Oklahoma City in free agency if he spent last season elsewhere – is a coup. We might never know why George agreed so quickly to re-sign, not even meeting with the Lakers. Maybe he just became so attached to Russell Westbrook, George wasn’t leaving under any circumstances. But perhaps the Thunder sold him on their ambitiously expensive plan to upgrade the roster. Oklahoma City is on pace to pay more than $93 million in luxury tax next season, which would be a record. Perhaps, the Thunder will stretch Kyle Singler. That could drop them below the $90 million-plus the Nets paid in luxury tax in 2014. But Oklahoma City is in the same range despite not nearing Brooklyn in market size. This is the same Thunder franchise still reeling from the perception it traded James Harden over luxury-tax concerns. What a way to change a narrative.”

Nerlens Noel dropped a very Noel-heavy version of his 1v1 with Enes Kanter:

Brad Botkin (CBS Sports) on the Thunder being a win total over/under value play: “This is my stone-cold lock. Just book it right now. Last season the Thunder won 48 games with Carmelo Anthony and without Andre Roberson for the final 33 games. Melo, who was not helping this team in any way, is out, Roberson is back, and with Paul George and Russell Westbrook having a year under their belt together, this team is going over 50 wins easily. The defense is going to be a monster. And think about this: Last season the Thunder had two games absolutely robbed from them by the officials, first when Giannis Antetokounmpo went out of bounds before finishing a game-winner that shouldn’t have counted, then again when Denver’s Nikola Jokic traveled, and also took more than five seconds, before inbounding the ball to Gary Harris for a game-winning three. The NBA admitted both were missed calls after the fact. Throw in the half-court buzzer-beater Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins banked in to stun OKC in the first week of the season. That’s three wins that would almost certainly go their way this upcoming season. That’s 51 before you even consider that this figures to be a much better team than last year with a healthy Roberson and Melo gone. Barring a major injury or a bunch of little ones that pile up, this is a 55-win team. At a 49.5 over/under, there is value everywhere.”

Gabe Zaldivar (Forbes) on Paul George and Kawhi Leonard dominating Lakers rumors again: “George and the Lakers will go their separate ways for a few years, but the Southern California native left possibility’s doorway ajar ever so slightly, via Lakers Nation: “I wanted to, man. Honestly, I wanted to. I wanted to come back home (in 2017). I’m 28; still got another contract.” I give George credit for doing what was right by him. He truly seems happy in Oklahoma City, which is a great situation for him. However, it’s beyond optimistic to think a George in L.A. scenario would make as much sense three years from now as it did this summer. George could very well be a different player at 31. As Lakers Nation reminds, he would have $37.8 million just sitting there calling his name entering his opt-out year.”

Jeff Cheshire (Otago Daily Times) on Steven Adams’ rising stock in American basketball: “Being a Kiwi is worth more in the world of basketball nowadays if Steven Adams’ thoughts are anything to go by. It is something 2.13m big man should know better than most. The exposure New Zealand has received in the sport has grown immensely over the past decade. Not only has the country’s on-court reputation been given a boost, it has given the Americans a taste of those classic Kiwi traits. The humble, hard-working ethos New Zealanders pride themselves on are major attractions to big-time recruiters, Adams says. The Oklahoma City Thunder centre has flown further than any Kiwi in the world of basketball. However, he is merely the head of an ever-growing list of New Zealanders plying their trade in the United States.”


Brett Dawson on Trae Young returning to Oklahoma as his pro career takes flight: “Among the things he’s learned is that there are time demands away from basketball, public appearances to make. One of those came Thursday night, when he was honored as the March of Dimes Sports Headliner of the Year. The event honors athletes, coaches and teams who have brought national attention to Oklahoma, and there’s little denying Young did that. He led Division I basketball in scoring and assists and won the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation’s top freshman… “It’s an honor to be recognized here tonight,” Young said. “Last year, when I came, Russ was the Headliner. So to be the Headliner this year is an honor for me and for my family. It’s special to me.”

Around the League: How the next generation of stars will thrive in the NBA…. NBA rule changes are coming…. Kyrie Irving was named “Little Mountain” in a Lakota ceremony…. Players who will prove haters wrong next season…. Raptors fans have started a ‘Kawhi or Die’ recruitment pitch…. Kobe, Kevin Garnett, and Bill Simmons will pop up as guest commentators in NBA 2K19.