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Monday Bolts: 8.13.18

Erik Horne on the passing of longtime Thunder photographer, Layne Murdoch: “Layne Murdoch Sr., who photographed the Thunder from its first days in Oklahoma City as well as the Oklahoma City/New Orleans Pelicans for the NBA, died on Friday. Murdoch announced July 9 on his Instagram page that he discovered he had cancer following the loss of his mother to cancer the previous week. On Sunday morning, the Thunder honored Murdoch with a Facebook post and a gallery of some of his most memorable images. “We’ve lost a friend and special member of the Thunder family,” the post reads. “Layne was among the best in the business and a fixture on the Thunder baseline for the first ten seasons. The images he captured at our games and events provide a vivid archive of our team and organization. Beyond his skills as a photographer, Layne’s smile, sense of humor and engaging personality connected him with anyone he met. He had a deep passion for his craft, our team and our city.”

This just happened:

Some Tyler Davis highlights from the Sweet 16 vs Michigan:

RotoWire on Devon Hall signing with the Cairns Taipans in Australia: “Hall recently signed a contract with Cairns Taipans of the Australian National Basketball League, Erik Horne of the Oklahoman reports. Hall was selected by the Thunder with the 53rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but will now head overseas for a year of seasoning considering the team already sits at 15 guaranteed contracts. Oklahoma City still owns Hall’s rights and there’s a chance he looks to return to the United States and compete for a roster spot next summer. In his senior season with Virginia, Hall averaged 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while knocking down an impressive 43 percent of his three-pointers.”

Tyler Conway (B/R) discusses the Thunder’s 2018-19 schedule: “The Thunder are the definition of really good. They have two of the best 20 players in basketball and a stout defensive anchor in the middle who does all the little things. In eras past, this Thunder team might have competed for a Western Conference Finals berth. This isn’t eras past, though. Oklahoma City projects as either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed, a clear tier below the Houston Rockets, who themselves are a clear tier below the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder will compete with the Jazz for the 3-4 spot in the West, a battle that will likely come down to which team maneuvers itself furthest away from James’ Lakers. It would be a surprise not to see the Thunder trickle up over the 50-win mark this season regardless. Prediction: 52-30

Tim Bontemps (WaPo) picks the 10 most compelling games in the NBA next season: “1. The Warriors get their rings. The season opens Oct. 16 with the Boston Celtics hosting the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of a TNT doubleheader. The nightcap will feature the now two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors getting their rings ahead of hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder. What has been a spicy matchup since Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Warriors in free agency will only be made moreso by the occasion.”

Andre Roberson is running again:

Dan Favale (B/R) with the Thunder’s blueprint to 2019 free agency: “If they re-sign Alex Abrines, and Patrick Patterson doesn’t opt out, they could be headed for a $160 million player-salary tab, which puts them around $28 million over the tax. The repeater bill on that excess: $104.5 million. Beefing up the roster within these financial constraints should be impossible. A tidy fit such as James Ennis can price himself beyond the taxpayer’s mid-level exception with a standout season. Counting on Schroder to reboot his trade value doesn’t help. Oklahoma City is not the ideal place for his reinvention. He and Russell Westbrook will play together, because duh. It might not work out. Neither one managed to finish in the 35th percentile of spot-up efficiency last year. Sam Presti is a master at eleventh-hour resourcefulness. Whether he’s capitalizing on Reggie Jackson’s departure just before he gets paid or turning spare and ill-fitting parts into George, Anthony and now Schroder, he unearths unforeseen opportunities. Good thing, too. The Thunder will need him to pull another rabbit out of his hat next summer—preferably one who can defend across all wing positions and shoot threes at a league-average clip.”

Sebastian Pycior (Nylon Calculus) on if the Thunder has found its backup role player: “I’ve searched each of the Thunder’s past couple of seasons back to Harden’s rookie year to distinguish the archetype of the premier player coming off the bench. I’ve looked at each roster to find players that were ball-handling guards that played more than twenty minutes per game while having played most of the season’s games for Oklahoma city in the year which they’ve played. For example, the following data includes:

  • James Harden’s Thunder tenure, as he’s “created” the role.
    • Reggie Jackson’s Thunder tenure is included, much in the same vein as Harden.
  • Kevin Martin’s, Dion Waiter’s, Victor Oladipo’s, and Dennis Schroeder’s career per game averages leading up to each respective Thunder tenure.
  • Each player’s similarity score in relation to Dennis Schroeder, comprised of the three final seasons before Thunder tenures.

While Oladipo didn’t come off the bench, the Thunder were playing their first year without Kevin Durant so somebody needed to soak up those lost minutes, but I think the original intent was to hope for a Harden-esque role. From there I plotted the bolded data from the table below by boxplot to glance over variance. This’ll allow me to see what the Thunder are looking for in this role, and see if there are other options out there in the league should the Dennis Schroeder experiment fail.”

Adam Fromal (B/R) with one thing every team failed to address this summer: “Though I have enduring concerns about Dennis Schroder’s fit as a non-starting point guard with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the franchise still added plenty of talent during the offseason. Hamidou Diallo and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot make for intriguing fliers, while Nerlens Noel should add more depth to the frontcourt portion of the roster. And that’s saying nothing of Paul George’s return or Andre Roberson’s rehabilitation process. But while the Thunder are now poised to become legitimate challengers in the Western Conference, they do have one weakness that might need to be addressed in the future. Noel, Steven Adams and Jerami Grant aren’t exactly reliable floor-spacing options, and the coaching staff hasn’t proved willing to lean on Patrick Patterson for a larger role. This lack of frontcourt shooting could prove problematic, forcing the smaller players to fill even tougher assignments on the offensive end.”

A look at Hamidou Diallo in his Thunder jersey:

Around the League: Melo will sign with the Rockets today…. Predicting next season’s champions…. Michael Porter Jr. says he is pain-free…. Isaiah Thomas is sorry for calling Cleveland a “S***hole”…. Stan Van Gundy is “lost” right now…. NBA schedule highlights.