3 min read

Friday Bolts – 9.16.16

Friday Bolts – 9.16.16

Cameron Payne: “Our backcourt and frontcourt is really good. Our backcourt especially. We’ve


got Russ back there and we picked up Victor (Oladipo). Our other guys like A-Mo (Anthony Morrow), myself, Semaj (Christon), the guys who haven’t been playing that’ll be ready to step up, I feel like we’ve been working hard this summer. The frontcourt guys, Steven Adams … (Ersan) Ilyasova — he can shoot, he can shoot the ball really good. With our frontcourt and our backcourt, I think we’re really good.”

Bobby Marks of The Vertical: “Kevin Durant can’t be replaced. Oklahoma City, however, will be judged on how the franchise moves forward after the All-Star left for Golden State. Though cap space was created by Durant’s departure, the Thunder weighed all options before a plan was put in place. The franchise could have gone the quick-fix route, using cap space on the best available free agents for a short-term plan to rebuild the roster without Durant. The Thunder instead stuck to their philosophy, building through the draft and making prudent trades, and their only free agents are Anthony Morrow and Ronnie Price.”

A little glimpse of OKC’s offense.

Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer on prospects worth tanking for: “Coming into the McDonald’s All American Game, Jackson was neck and neck with Jayson Tatum for best wing player in this year’s freshman class. The two are a study in contrasts. Tatum is smooth and savvy, a teenager who plays like a 10-year NBA veteran and glides around the court. Jackson is raw and explosive, and raw explosiveness won the day. They started the game matched up against each other, and Jackson got right into Tatum’s dribble and hounded him all over the floor, forcing him to take tough shots. Tatum is a midrange killer, but he couldn’t create the same type of separation against Jackson that he could against most wings at the high school level.”

Analyzing player primes.

Rob Mahoney of SI.com, where Russ is ranked fifth: “If you’re bothered by Westbrook’s placement here relative to a certain Clippers point guard’s ranking at No. 4, I’d encourage you to read that post for a detailed examination of what separates these two superstars. How does one even attempt to stop Russell Westbrook? Defenders who have backed off and given him space are generally run over. Those that give his drives the attention they deserve are often burned by his passing. Showing resistance at the rim sometimes only serves to send Westbrook to the line (7.8 free throw attempts per game, seventh in the league) to bolster his efficiency. Attempts to bait him into bad shots or bad passes can so easily backfire; there are real risks to getting too cute with the coverage of a player who can blow by or rise over most any defender put in front of him. Quicker opponents can be taken into the post and overpowered. Longer ones often can’t move their feet fast enough to put that length to use. This is the fundamental quandary that every one of Westbrook’s opponents must confront. The speed at which Westbrook operates demands the tailoring of a defensive system to stop him. Otherwise, the rotations might not come in time or might come in too eager numbers, leaving open shooters and dunkers for Westbrook to pick out. That Westbrook repeats this process, again and again, over full minutes for an entire season is exhausting to opponents. You will not catch Westbrook on his night off because there are no nights off. There is only the constant need to focus, to shuffle, to communicate, and to batten down the hatches.”