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Friday Bolts: 9.22.17

Friday Bolts: 9.22.17

The NBA is implementing “James Harden” and “Zaza Pachulia” rule changes: “NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season’s playoffs. Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden‘s attempts after he swings his arms into contact.”

Jon Hamm sets the record straight on KD’s time in Oklahoma City: “It further complicates how Durant will be remembered in Oklahoma City. Without him, the team isn’t a perennial Finals contender. Yet he came up short in some big playoff moments, and he seems to be throwing blame elsewhere for that. And more than a year after he left, he’s still trying to explain himself to random Twitter passerbys.”

Kevin Garnett says Russell Westbrook reminds him of himself: “Well when I watch Westbrook’s energy, it reminds me of the energy that I thought I played with ’til I saw him play. Westbrook’s energy is remarkable. When I watch it, I’m still in awe, but if I was to say that someone and how they approach the game, I approach the game very similar to how I see Russell approach the game. He doesn’t do a lot of handshakes, he’s very focused, he’s to himself, he does his own thing. I was pretty much a little bit like that.”

Paul George & Russell Westbrook were honorable mentions on B/R’s list of top 10 trade assets: “Both Paul George (player option) and Russell Westbrook (player option) are ticketed for free agency in July. If the Oklahoma City Thunder collapse at the start of the season and the latter hasn’t signed an extension, they could decide blow it up. They just won’t. Acquiring George as a rental isn’t a move the Thunder make if they’re not bent on giving his partnership with Westbrook an entire season to marinate. It would take an explicit trade demand from the reigning MVP, the franchise’s rock, to send general manager Sam Presti into teardown mode—an uncharacteristic twist we can’t presume, much less expect.”

Brett Dawson on Doug McDermott & Jerami Grant having undefined roles: “Last season, Grant played 52 percent of his minutes at small forward and 40 percent at power forward, according to Basketball-Reference.com. But he saw a positional shift as the year progressed, and after studying the Thunder’s new personnel, he’s expecting it to continue… McDermott, too, could see some power forward minutes if the Thunder plays small. In last season’s playoff series loss to the Rockets, OKC coach Billy Donovan experimented with playing McDermott and Alex Abrines on the court together to maximize perimeter shooting.”

A young Thunder fan thanked Enes Kanter for going after KD: “Kanter was doing an autograph signing in Oklahoma City when one young fan approached him with a basketball and T-shirt to sign. After asking Kanter if he would be so kind as to sign his stuff, he thanked Kanter for ‘being so aggressive to Kevin Durant.'”

Sports Illustrated named Russ the seventh most “fit” male athlete in the world: “Westbrook earned the 2017 NBA MVP after averaging a triple double over the season, a feat no NBA player had achieved since Oscar Robertson in 1961–62, and earning a record 42 of them. Standing at 6’3”, Westbrook has an impressive 7-foot wingspan, explosive speed and stamina—plus a smooth shot.”

Brian Windhorst on the wild 2017 offseason: “The 2017 NBA offseason was perhaps the most intense and relentless summer in the league’s history. Already in the midst of an era of star movement, a handful of big-name players switched teams again, and much of it happened with surrounding drama. But there was a method to the madness. Here’s a look at everything you may have missed (or forgotten) in the offseason and what it may mean.”

Paul George is ready: