Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game against the Suns: “While the Thunder is aiming for a higher-octane offense on Monday against Phoenix, it also knows that it will get nowhere in its quest to return to the win column if the defense doesn’t hold up. The Suns offense hasn’t been prolific as of yet, but the team is chock full of players who can go for 20-or-more points on any given night. Ayton comes in averaging 16.1 points on 60.4 percent shooting, while Devin Booker is averaging 20.0 points per game over his career, let alone the 24.9 he’s putting up this season. With sharpshooters like Trevor Ariza and TJ Warren flanking the wings, the Thunder’s perimeter defense will have to be sharp all night to limit those pesky catch-and-shoot looks that can sink an otherwise stout effort. “They’ve got some veteran guys too with them – Ariza, and obviously Warren has been around. He’s a good scorer,” Donovan said. “We’ve got a chance to see them once and we’ll get a chance to kind of look at our game film again as a team. But those guys are good players.”
Russell Westbrook update: Subject to change.
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on how the Thunder can help Raymond Felton in Westbrook’s absence: “To start the second quarter Saturday, Felton missed four of the Thunder’s six shots as the Mavericks burst out on a 7-0 run. It wasn’t all on him. “So much was on (Felton’s) plate in terms of generating offense,” Donovan said. “That’s why I kind of went with Steven there to post feed a little bit, we could throw the ball into Steven and try to get some movement around him.” The season before Felton was signed, when the Thunder’s second unit struggled without Westbrook in the game, Donovan called for Enes Kanter post ups. Steven Adams played the Kanter role on Saturday, with Donovan trying to initiate the offense through a different starting point. It worked to start the fourth quarter. Donovan started Adams and Paul George, and the Thunder cut the Mavericks’ lead to nine on an Alex Abrines 3-pointer. Adams posted up, and the attention from George cutting through the lane freed up Abrines.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) with takeaways from the Thunder’s loss to Dallas on Saturday: “The bench misses Dennis Schröder. Having Schröder as an emergency starter while Westbrook recovers is a luxury. But moving Schröder into the starting lineup has put Felton back in the rotation, and he’s struggled running the second unit. Felton made 1-of-6 three-pointers on Saturday, and he wasn’t alone in struggling off the bench. Dallas’ bench outscored OKC’s 53-22, and the Thunder reserves shot 9 for 31 from the floor, 29 percent. For Felton, the poor shooting was part of a trend. He’s 1 for 18 from 3-point range this season and shooting 36.2 percent overall. The Thunder are scoring 83.2 points per 100 possessions with Felton on the floor. In the minutes Schröder has played off the bench, OKC is scoring 106.1.”
Abdel Nader has been re-assigned to the OKC Blue: “The Oklahoma City Thunder has assigned forward Abdel Nader to the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Nader has logged nine minutes of action in five games this season for the Thunder. On Friday night, he contributed 20 points, three rebounds and three assists in the Blue’s 103-99 victory over the South Bay Lakers.”
Jonathan Wasserman (B/R) on why Hamidou Diallo needs more minutes: “Coach Billy Donovan hasn’t given Hamidou Diallo much of a chance despite Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson both shooting below 37 percent from the field. After a strong summer league and promising flashes during preseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s (first) second-round pick put together some quality stretches over the past month. He’s shooting 45.1 percent in 12.8 minutes per game, and that’s while only making 11.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities. He’d presumably hit more if given enough minutes to build some rhythm. Regardless, Diallo makes plays with his explosive athleticism, and he’ll need the reps to continue sharpening and expanding his shot creation, shooting and defensive IQ.”
The NBA chose the top 30 plays of Westbrook’s career to celebrate his 30th birthday:
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