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Friday Bolts – 9.30.16

Friday Bolts – 9.30.16

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com on Russ: “Durant is gone now, and everyone seems delighted to watch


Westbrook play the exact same way — without another superstar to feed. This is the season of Westbrook unhinged. We are tired of thinking about him, and ready to just gawk at the rampage. This is the halo of liberty that protects a superstar playing alone. James Harden has enjoyed a variant of it in Houston, especially as Dwight Howard faded, and now that Howard is in Atlanta, Harden should have carte blanche in Mike D’Antoni’s go-go offense. Sure, people complain about Harden’s cadaver defense and occasional showboat dribble-fests. But surround a singular star with role players, and almost no one is going to fault him for dominating the ball.”

Zach Harper of CBSSports.com has Russell Westbrook as a tier 2 star: “In all candor, it’s tough to call Westbrook something short of a true superstar because I absolutely love his game. But to misquote the “Godfather:” This isn’t personal, it’s superstardom. In a league that’s moved toward analytics, flow and ball movement, efficient 3-point shooting and not squandering opportunities, it must be noted Westbrook has no three-point shot (career 30.2 percent), turns the ball over (often in crucial moments), and can get stuck in hero-ball mode. Having said all that, this is a huge year for Westbrook. For the first time, he is the clear-cut No. 1 player on a team that everyone is expecting to regress, probably significantly. In the past, Westbrook has been crazy good in Durant’s absence, and he does still have pieces to work with in OKC. Steven Adams is an emerging All-Star. Victor Oladipo will be good. Enes Kanter can play, at least on one end.”

Russ is ESPN.com’s No. 1 fantasy pick.

ESPN.com fantasy on Oladipo: “Oladipo has increased his FG percentage each year in the NBA, starting at 41.9 and finished 2015 with a 43.8 FG percentage. Last season, teammates not named Kevin Durant shot a near-5 percentage points worse with Westbrook off the court. With the Thunder possibly going with a Enes Kanter-Steven Adams duo, Westbrook slashing to the hoop would open up Oladipo on the wings or for an uncontested mid-range shot, ideally. I think in the up-tempo, top-10 in pace system, Oladipo has an opportunity to really shine. In addition to playing in a division with the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Jazz, he’ll have multiple games against sub-par defenses where he can explode.”

Here’s Kendrick Perkins on Woj’s podcast.

Erik Horne: “On one end of the Thunder practice facility, Cameron Payne stood motionless underneath a basket. The 21-year-old — normally energetic — barely moved from one spot, shagging balls within a small radius. With a gray walking boot on his right foot, all he could do was feed passes back to Ronnie Price as the veteran shot free throws. Four days into Thunder camp, Payne suffered a setback in his road to recovery: an acute fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot that will keep him out indefinitely. Payne’s fracture is the latest in a two-year odyssey of Thunder foot injuries, throwing more doubt into Payne’s development and the backcourt rotation.”