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Monday Bolts: 9.17.18

ESPN has Andre Roberson 78th on its Top 100 Players list: “Coming off a brutal knee injury, there are questions as to how long it will take Roberson to reach his elite defensive level again, or if he will at all. His offensive deficiencies are well known, but as a wing stopper, Roberson makes as much defensive impact as any player in the league. His anemic free throw shooting and cringeworthy airballs bring groans, but after missing the second half of the season there’s a new appreciation and recognition for what Roberson brings.”

Jonathan Wasserman (B/R) on why Hamidou Diallo will surprise in training camp: “His jump-shot form looks cleaner since high school. He did make four of nine threes in summer league. Those in camp should feel encouraged by what they see, specifically in terms of the eye test and his potential to improve, even if the statistical results during drills and scrimmages don’t match. Though it will be clear he remains raw in terms of his skill level for a 20-year-old, there is going to be plenty of buzz about Diallo’s upside once training camp ends. And it’s upside that’s not typically available to gamble on 45 picks deep. With Andre Roberson expected to miss the start of the season, and Diallo outplaying Terrance Ferguson in summer league, the Thunder may be inclined to give their rookie early minutes.”

EuroHoops.net on Dennis Schroder leading Germany to the FIBA World Cup: “Germany was down at 92-90 with 0.4 seconds left, but Dennis Schroder and Max Kleber were not ready to quit. Schroder lobbed the ball from inbound, Kleber finished it and Germany beat Israel 110-98 after overtime. The Germans got the ticket to the FIBA World Cup by remaining perfect with an 8-0 record, while Israel still has a chance despite a 3-5 record. Schroder was amazing with 30 points and 13 assists in 42 minutes of action, a performance that wasn’t overshadowed by his seven turnovers and 1/9 threes. Robin Benzing added 24 points and Kleber had 13 points.”

The play that sealed Germany’s 8-0 record: That lob!

Zach Buckley (B/R) on the Thunder’s best and worst case scenarios for next season: “Best Case: Russell Westbrook’s knee surgery doesn’t cost him any regular-season games, and the Oklahoma City Thunder hit the ground at an Olympic-caliber sprint. Statistically, there isn’t a better two-man tandem than Westbrook and Paul George. Steven Adams gets All-Star buzz. Dennis Schroder draws Sixth Man of the Year votes… Worst Case: Westbrook’s setback lingers into the campaign, Schroder can’t make sense of an offense that’s too light on shooting and OKC doesn’t right itself before December. The damage done during that stretch eventually keeps the Thunder from claiming a top-four seed.”

The Ringer NBA staff on the people and things that will define the 2018-19 season: “Paul George, one of the best players on the market, announced his decision to stick with Oklahoma City at a house party thrown by Russ. George is no Kevin Durant, but he’s a multi-time All-Star whose game is a better fit alongside Westbrook’s ball-dominant ways. And after dumping Carmelo Anthony’s toxic contract and digging deep into their owner’s pockets to add and retain key reserves, the Thunder may not have their best roster ever, but they do have the one perhaps best suited for a Russ-centric worldview. Now comes the hard part: turning that synergy into results. The Thunder’s bid to challenge for Western Conference supremacy feels more realistic than last season, but any improvement begins and ends with how well Westbrook takes advantage of his retooled supporting cast. Knee surgery, about a month before the season tips off, isn’t an encouraging start.”

Grant Afseth (Thunder Wire) with six adjustments the Thunder must make if Westbrook misses the start of the season: “It’s important to note that many backup point guards are not used to shouldering a high usage rate but that isn’t the case with Schröder. He had a 30.5 percent usage rate last season and has had a usage rate above 27 percent for four consecutive seasons. While Schröder has only been a full-time starting point guard for two seasons, he was a key part of the 2016-17 Hawks team that finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The main pieces on that team that he had to work with were Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway Jr. It should only help Schröder to be able to play with talents like Paul George and Steven Adams. If it doesn’t take too long for on-court chemistry to build between Schröder and their other key players, they should be able to handle temporary stretches without Westbrook.”

Erik Horne asked fans for their most memorable games in Thunder history: “Western Conference semifinals, Game 2 at Spurs, 2016: Thunder up one point with the ball, 13 seconds left. All hell breaks loose. Manu crowds Waiters. Waiters pushes Manu. Thunder turn the ball over. Adams stops a 3-on-1 fast break and still contests the last second 3-point attempt. Chris Webber loses his mind on the broadcast. A fan grabs Adams as the buzzer sounds!”

Around the League: Dwyane Wade will be back for one more NBA season…. The Rockets are losing an assistant coach…. Jimmy Butler will speak with the Wolves about his future…. Why KD won’t end up with the Lakers…. Terry Rozier is just getting started…. Is George Hill the key to the future in Cleveland?…. Manu Ginobili officially closed the dooron the Spurs dynasty with his farewell address.