5 min read

Monday Bolts: 5.14.18

Tyler Parker (Ringer/former DT’er) on Nick Collison, God of Thunder: “The man appeared as if floating, with a coifed sort-of-pompadour shining oil black on his head, hair that Justin Bobby himself would’ve been like, “Hey, man, you know, that’s dope. That’s a dope cut. I never got enough credit for how good I looked in a cardigan. Truth and time tells all.” It’s my personal belief that Collison’s hair is a symbol for all that is good and true in this world, the flowing locks rendering hate in its many forms obsolete, uninteresting, pointless. It’s not a do that sits firmly on his head in a gelled statue. This is no shell. There’s movement to it, strands loosening themselves, shimmying, Clark Kent–ing on his forehead. Hair Jordan’s been with the Thunder since they got to Oklahoma City and His Hairness has ruled with love in his heart and skins on his knees. No player was more beloved by his fan base. He announced his retirement on Thursday. He played 14 seasons, all for the same organization. He’ll go down as the godfather of Thunder basketball.”

Timothy Rapp (B/R) on Philadelphia’s rumored interest in Paul George: “According to Keith Pompey of Philly.com: “Oklahoma City small forward Paul George is another free agent the Sixers have interest in, according to folks around the league. He would be a great fit because of his ability to shoot the ball and defend.” Pompey, citing sources, also reported that the 76ers are interested in trading for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.  “Don’t be surprised if they also try to acquire San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade,” Pompey wrote. “Sources have said the Sixers have expressed interest in the two-time all-star.”

Brett Dawson on whether or not Paul George will try again to find a perfect fit alongside Russell Westbrook: “The George Experiment hadn’t always worked wonders in Oklahoma City this season, but here it was at its peak. In the third quarter of the Thunder’s most memorable playoff win — a rally from 25 points down to beat the Jazz in Game 5 of a series OKC lost in six — here were Westbrook and George at their Batman-and-Robin best. If George chooses to return to the Thunder, that third quarter against Utah is the vision. He and Westbrook combined for 32 of OKC’s 37 points in that period and all 11 of its field goals. Westbrook touched the ball 105 times in that game, George 68. No other Thunder player had more than 45 touches. That was Adams, who in his 41 minutes set an eye-popping 16 screen assists, screens that led directly to baskets by the player for whom he screened. Westbrook and Adams are locked up long term, ready to play cornerstone pieces in the Thunder offense. The question is whether George will join them.”

Fred Katz grades Russell Westbrook’s 2017-18 season: “Westbrook got off to a slow start. So did the team. He turned it on in mid-December until the end of January, when he played his best ball of the season. So did the team. He cooled a bit more for the final two months of the year, going in and out of dominant ball and somewhat uncomfortable play. So did the team. “He takes his job very serious, and he takes the responsibility of a point guard and a leader very serious,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “For him, he was always trying to find ways to make the group better, to balance himself in with the group, to communicate with those guys.” Westbrook mightily struggled over the first four games of Oklahoma City’s first-round playoff series. The Thunder fell down three games to one. He picked up his performance for the final two games of the series. The Thunder came back from down 25 in Game 5 to stave off elimination for two days and then fought hard in the eliminator. The Thunder go as Westbrook does. But is that a model for maximizing success?”

Berry Tramel grades Paul George’s 2017-18 season: “We had heard that George was an excellent defender. But you can’t really appreciate George’s defense until you see it night after night. He’s a versatile defender, guarding multiple positions. And George is the best kind of wing defender – he gets a ton of steals without doing all that much gambling. George was second in the NBA in steals, 161, and sixth in steal percentage, 2.8, which estimates the number of opponents’ possessions that end with a steal by a player. George guards big chunks of the court with his wingspan – hands always spread, ready for deflections. George was tied for third in the NBA with deflections, 4.0 per game.”

Erik Horne on Patrick Patterson’s “entertaining” season: “The Thunder was 22-8 when Patterson played more than 16 minutes a game. With doubts about Anthony’s future in Oklahoma City, Patterson may get an opportunity to expand his role and minutes in Year 2. “What did I make of my first season here?,” Patterson said, asking the question back during his exit interview. “At the end of the day, if I could sum it up in one word … ‘entertaining.‘” The Thunder and Patterson hopes the sequel gets better reviews.”

Janine Ranking (Stuff NZ) on the first Steven Adams outdoor basketball court opening in New Zealand: “The country’s first Steven Adams outdoor basketball court is set to be opened at the Raleigh St Reserve in Palmerston North. Community groups working on a makeover of the largely empty reserve in a poor area of town have achieved a coup in claiming the United States-based Kiwi basketball star’s input into the park. Adams is expected to visit Palmerston North for the court’s opening in August, which coincides with the city hosting a basketball training camp for hundreds of young players. Mayor Grant Smith said he was “absolutely delighted” about the development. “I acknowledge this as a true community project, and having the first Steven Adams court is the icing on the cake. It will be one of the highlights of the year.”

Connor Letourneau (Houston Chronicle) on practice wars shaping Kevin Durant & James Harden ahead of the WCF: “During practice, Scott Brooks, in his first full season as head coach, had one rule: no fouls. Harden grabbed and held, barking, “Play through it!” whenever teammates complained. Those heated sessions served as a competitive proving ground for three future MVP-worthy players. Given their contrasting styles, each player learned something from one other. There was Durant’s selfless leadership, Westbrook’s unyielding force and Harden’s mastery of the game’s angles. “It felt like AAU because we were all new to everything,” Durant said. “We had new logos, a new fan base, new arena, new practice facility. We just turned the lights on in this thing. So, it was just us. It felt good to have something that was our own.” By his second season, 2010-11, Harden was the second unit’s unquestioned leader. The Thunder won 55 games before falling to the eventual-champion Mavericks in the conference finals.”

Around the League: The Celtics crushed the Cavs to take a 1-0 lead in the ECF…. Marcus Morris backed up his pre-series talk about LeBron James…. LeBron put his photographic memory on full display after Game 1…. Dwane Casey was fired by the Raptors…. Brett Brown says the Sixers “need help” in order to win a title…. Kobe Bryant thinks Ben Simmons should rebuild his jump shot from scratch…. Golden State and their goal of 300 passes per game.