Future face of the franchise (or maybe current face of the franchise after tonight??) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring the first single point of the new era Thunder was so fitting. This was kind of the perfect game for the Thunder. Competitive, fun and exciting basketball against a contender on the road, but ultimately a loss that helps the prospects of a top draft pick. And most importantly, SGA lived up to the hype.
- Chris Paul’s antics, i.e. fancy dribbling and exaggerating/initiating contact, isn’t nearly as irritating when he’s playing for your team. Like I’ve always said about CP3, it’s just veteran craftiness if you ask me.
- Speaking of, Paul’s first basket as a Thunder player came off a gorgeous dribble move into a turnaround midrange jumper that ripped the net. Only topped by his 35 foot 3 pointer to beat the shot clock to begin a CP3 barrage to open the second quarter.
- Dennis Schroder was bad. On offense. On defense. On special teams too, probably.
- Terrance Ferguson was bad tonight as well, but my sister-in-law has delivered T-Ferg his Uber Eats several times and says he’s a really sweet guy, so I feel bad bringing it up.
- Steven Adams struggled against Rudy Gobert, as is tradition. It’s likely to be Steven’s worst game of the season, until the next three games against the table-punching Frenchman.
- This game felt like so many OKC games the past couple years: superstar driven contender struggling with a hard fighting scrappy underdog. Weird for the Thunder to be on the opposite side of it.
- Diallo may never become a shooter, but he’s so active on the glass, around the rim and just makes things happen.
- The open three from SGA didn’t drop, but there was an OKC offensive possession with better ball movement than we’ve seen from the Thunder since… well… maybe ever.
- I can’t help but wonder how nice guy Danilo Gallinari checking on Bojan Bogdonovic mid-play would’ve gone over with Russell Westbrook. (Spalding is his only friend on the court.) I like both sides of it. Cool to see Gallo stop play and help a hurt opponent. But I think it’s pretty great that Russ hates the enemy so much.
- Darius Bazley is a part of the rotation! Give Donovan an extension right now.
- The Utah Jazz traded away Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen, and two 1st round picks for oft injured, 32-year-old Mike Conley with an inflated contract, and the deal was universally applauded as a championship move. The Thunder have been rumored to be pursuing a deal to move oft injured, 34-year-old Chris Paul with an inflated contract, and talking heads say they’d have to give up assets to offload him. Paul still had superstar shades and massively outplayed a very bad Conley tonight.
- Conley knew it though. His saying “my bad” to 20,000 Jazz fans for his horrid night made my pick-up ball self proud.
- We gotta talk about Shai. He disappeared in the 4th quarter for some reason (he didn’t play badly, he just didn’t get touches), but he looked special scoring a career high 25 points through the first three quarters (he added 1 more in the fourth). Gilgeous-Alexander’s finishing ability at the rim is uncanny, he got to the free throw line, and he hit shots from outside. He’s long and disruptive on defense. He struggled from the free throw line, and you’d like to see his rebound and assist numbers go up a bit, but it was still a marvelous debut from the Thunder’s biggest building block. Shai just turned 21, and this team will give him the reins at some point this season. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching him blossom into a star. Yeah, I’m calling it now.