Thursday Bolts: 01.30.20
If you didn’t stay up to watch the Thunder Dort all over Sacramento last night, Brandon Rahbar has you covered.
And check your podcast feeds today for Brandon’s interview with Oklahoma City’s mayor, David Holt. The show covers the Thunder’s global impact, David Stern’s legacy, and honoring Kobe Bryant.
Matt John (Basketball Insiders) on the cost benefit analysis GMs must run as they explore deals ahead of the trade deadline: “For those who don’t remember — and any Celtics fan who’s reading this certainly doesn’t — Boston traded Perkins among others to the Oklahoma City Thunder for primarily Jeff Green. Many were put off by this trade seeing how Perkins played a vital part in Boston winning its 17th championship, while Green helped Oklahoma City get its first playoff berth. Putting all emotions aside, the rationale was pretty straightforward. The Celtics lost backup wing Marquis Daniels for the season with a bruised spinal cord and were one of the oldest teams in the league. They needed some depth on the wing and a little infusion of youth couldn’t have hurt. The Thunder had been bested by the then-defending reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers the previous postseason because LA took advantage of their lack of size. Getting someone who could stand up to them potentially made them the favorites in the West.”
Andrew Knoll (Forbes) has Nerlens Noel as one of the NBA’s best values: “Noel’s career has run a broad gamut in a narrow period of time, going from potential No. 1 pick to discarded asset and now leveling off as a steady contributor with an attractively low price tag. Noel plays around 19 minutes a night, but may be a savvy pick for an extended role as his per-36-minutes numbers and P.E.R. (23.0) sparkle. Per 36 minutes, he swats three shots and grabs two steals, disrupting plenty more shots and passes in the process. While he may not have lived up to his high billing, Noel has now become a tremendous asset at the defensive end of the floor, especially for an OKC team that plays a very guard-heavy rotation and relies upon active defenders on its back line.”
Andre Snellings (ESPN) predicts that the Thunder will make an unexpected trade: “Chris Paul has had a wildly successful season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading them into playoff contention and proving that he still has the chops to be a huge contributor. Although the Thunder have publicly stated how happy they are to have him performing in this role, my bold prediction is that he will be playing for a legitimate championship contender such as the 76ers, Raptors, Nuggets, Miami Heat or even, dare I say it, the Clippers before the season is out. Paul deserves another chance at a ring, and the Thunder have a young, talented backcourt in Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that they could pass the reins to while continuing to build for the future.”
Lucas (The Lost Ogle) lists his top-5 most memorable Kobe moments in OKC.
Berry Tramel (The Oklahoman) passes along the story of Bryant’s brieft moment as a pre-season home player in OKC: “For a night, the Lakers called Oklahoma City home. As the home team for Saturday’s games, timeouts were filled with Laker highlight videos on the board and the Laker Girls entertained fans during breaks. “Bryant said he enjoyed his trip to Oklahoma. “‘I like Oklahoma,’ Bryant said. ‘Oklahoma is a nice place. I wouldn’t mind coming back.’” Kobe indeed came back and made for some great memories.”
Amid all the necessary and appropriate Kobe love, here is a necessary and appropriate contextualization of Bryant’s rape case from my friend Bradford William Davis (NY Daily News): ” But, (Gloria Allred) added, “There [are] still many allegations against sports figures those in the entertainment world, religious world [and] business world,” that never reach trial. “Because there’s still a major difference in the power dynamic between those who are in power and those who are not.” Bryant died a surefire Hall of Fame, a dutiful family man, a savvy entrepreneur, and even a recent Oscar and Emmy Award winner. Our collective memory reflects that when Kobe died, he died in power. Nonetheless, said Allred, “I’m glad the alleged victim was able to resolve it [in civil court] and I’m glad Kobe was able to move on with his life.” Indeed, Bryant’s rape case was not the sum of his brief existence. He made sure of it.”
My reaction to a tragic interruption in our sports fandom hasn’t changed much since I wrote this reflection (for WTLC) on the death of Dion Waiters’ brother in 2016.
Sam Quinn (CBS Sports) on Zion Williamson’s early signs of unstoppability: “As a professional player, Williamson has missed 18 total shots. He has rebounded eight of them himself. He is generating three putback possessions per game so far, trailing only Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond in the entire NBA. Here’s the rub: Zion has played only 24 minutes per game so far. Whiteside plays 30.7, while Drummond averages 33.6. His 1.25 points per putback possession puts him in elite company. Among players who use at least one possession per game on putbacks, he is just outside of the top 15 in terms of efficiency. Stopping Williamson once is hard enough, but with only a week of NBA experience, he has essentially turned his rare misses into warmup shots, and there is absolutely nothing defenses can do about it.”
Mike Wells (ESPN) on Victor Oladipo’s measured success in his return to the court.