Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) recaps the preseason win over the Hawks yesterday in Tulsa: “One third quarter possession captured it all. After George knocked down a free throw for a defensive three seconds call on Atlanta, he was fouled coming around a screen on an in-bounds play, which awarded the him yet another free throw. On the ensuing Thunder possession, the ball skipped around the court until George found himself marooned behind the three-point line at the slot. He caught the ball and splashed it through. One possession, 25 seconds, 5 Paul George points. The Thunder followed up that possession by forcing a shot clock violation, then George made the play of the afternoon by tipping in an alley-oop pass from Schröder with just the fingers on his left hand. The loyal Tulsa crowd erupted after that one, and the Thunder was off to the races for good. George scored 16 of his 22 total points on the night in the third quarter alone, when the Thunder outscored the Hawks 35-16, going 10-of-23 from the field while forcing Atlanta into 4-of-19 shooting in the quarter. The Thunder dominated the glass by 8 in the period as well, showing to Donovan that even without Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson at present, there’s an explosiveness possible with this group.”
Bill Haisten (Tulsa World) on Dennis Schroder getting the Tulsa spotlight: “If the BOK Center books Aerosmith, there is the expectation that Steven Tyler will front the band. It’s awesome until you learn that Tyler has laryngitis and will be replaced on vocals by some other guy. That was Westbrook on Sunday. He was in the arena, seated at the end of the Thunder bench, but there will be no actual basketball until his right knee has healed. Until then, Schroder is the Oklahoma City point guard. Acquired from Atlanta in July, Schroder had a 20-point, six-assist, seven-rebound stat line as the Thunder — in its 10th preseason game played in Tulsa — prevailed 113-94 before a crowd of 14,470.”
Erik Horne (The Oklahoman) on Hamidou Diallo’s opportunity after a strong start to the preseason: “The rookie continued his impressive preseason Sunday, posting 13 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. The alley-oop was the starting point for Diallo, who’s shown a hunger for rebounding and sound defensive principles in three preseason games. “He’s performing very well,” Steven Adams said. “Outside of his rebounding, it’s not so much that, but it’s his discipline with what he’s picked up of training camp, his cuts, knowing the plays, it’s been good. He’s picked it up fast, especially for a rookie. Full credit for that. Everything else is just a bit of bonus.” When Terrance Ferguson had to leave the game with concussion-like symptoms early in the first quarter, it opened an opportunity for Diallo to start the second half. Ferguson started all three of the Thunder’s preseason games. If he enters the concussion protocol and is not cleared by Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee, Diallo could start.”
Brett Dawson (The Athletic) on Dennis Schroder savoring his second chance at making an NBA impression: “Dennis Schröder loves a second chance. Now he’s barreling toward a big one in his basketball career. He’s 25 years old, with five sometimes-tumultuous seasons behind him in Atlanta. He’s rebooting with the Thunder, set to play behind — and probably alongside — Russell Westbrook on a team with playoff aspirations, a franchise with little tolerance for losing. “Everybody was young before and made mistakes; that’s the reason why we live,” Schröder said. “This is my opportunity to show everybody who I really am.”
Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on the impact of Andre Roberson’s extended absence: “This is a less than ideal spot for the Thunder to be in, especially after a triumphant offseason during which they re-signed Paul George to a long-term deal. OKC was expected to compete for one of the top spots in the West behind the Warriors this season in large part because of its defensive potential. Now, the Thunder will be without their best defensive player for an unknown amount of time. Roberson’s absence last season led to the Thunder’s defensive decline. With him, OKC was a top-10 defensive team, allowing just 103.4 points per 100 possessions. Without him, OKC allowed 107.0 points per 100 possessions. Roberson’s injury puts a lot of pressure on, well, everyone else on the roster. Westbrook may be exposed more on the defensive end without Roberson. George, meanwhile, may be asked to guard the opponent’s best offensive player again, putting a lot on his plate on both ends of the floor.”
Sam Amico (Amico Hoops) on Kevin Hervey signing a G-League deal with the OKC Blue: “Oklahoma City Thunder second-round draft pick Kevin Hervey has signed a contract with the G-League, according to a report from Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days. Hervey is a 6-foot-9 forward and was drafted with the No. 57 overall selection out of Texas-Arlington. He will play for the OKC Blue, the Thunder’s nearby G-League affiliate. Hervey averaged 20.5 points as senior last season. He plays both the small and power forward positions.”
Dan Favale (B/R) ranks Paul George as the fifth-best small forward in the NBA: “Though the “three-and-D” label is typically bestowed upon players who haven’t achieved stardom, Paul George should be considered one of the NBA’s premier members of that two-way category. His ability to create his own shots and take over as a go-to scorer gives him value beyond those facets of the game, but his primary skills come in the two aforementioned areas. As a shooter, George is a deadly presence who requires constant attention. He can knock down triples off the bounce. He can shoot in rhythm when passes hit him right in the pocket, and he’s adept at catching slightly off-target feeds from a driving Russell Westbrook before recovering and finding nothing but twine. Hitting 40.1 percent of your shots from outside the rainbow is never easy; it’s particularly challenging when you’re taking a whopping 7.7 attempts per game. And yet, George might be better at the “D” part.”
Around the League: The meteoric rise of Joel Embiid’s brand…. The Wolves-Heat Jimmy Butler trade has fallen apart…. Dejounte Murray suffered a knee injury…. Chris Paul wants you to respect Carmelo Anthony…. Melo is ignoring the noise while chasing his first title…. Why KD-to-NYC isn’t far-fetched…. 2019 NBA Mock Draft.