Shaun Powell of NBA.com: “Remember when Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said
Westbrook wasn’t a superstar? Westbrook is going full blast this season to disprove those notions and could average nearly a triple-double. The bigger issue lies with the prosperity of his team. OKC without Durant isn’t suddenly a team sitting on the playoff fence and 45-50 wins is doable. But can they stay among the elite? Not unless Adams has a breakout season, Oladipo is a borderline All-Star and OKC’s defense is top-five. That’s a lot of what-ifs and a best-case scenario. This team is capable of playing into May. Anything beyond that seems like a wish.”
Paul Pierce: “I could have left Boston years ago but I stuck it out. I just feel like when you’re that close as a competitor, you don’t go join the team that just pushed you out. That’s just me personally but we’re living in a day and time where there’s a new generation. Guys I don’t think they are as hungry or competitive as my generation was, and that’s why you’ll probably see more of that.”
Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com on OKC’s main weakness: “Three-point Shooting. Last year OKC shot 31.9 percent from downtown, and that was with Kevin Durant. Anthony Morrow can help spread the floor with his shooting but he played sparingly last season and will likely do the same this year. Rookies Domantas Sabonis and Alex Abrines should help but overall, the Thunder are just not a good three-point shooting team.”
Rohan Nadkarni of SI.com: “Westbrook undoubtedly has a deep desire to keep Oklahoma City competitive in the West this season, but he can’t let that desire rob his game of efficiency. I think it could take a good chunk of the season for Russ to fully acclimate himself to his new position in the OKC hierarchy. Not only will Westbrook have to adjust to seeing the best defender on the floor every night, he will also have to learn to play with so many new players that I don’t think the Thunder will look so pretty out of the gates. The new role, plus the destruction of continuity means Westbrook could very well have a frustrating, stop-and-go start to the season before he really catches fire.”
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer: “Positional versatility gets a lot of press in today’s positionless league, but role versatility is every bit as important. If a reserve shooter can come off the bench cold, heat up immediately, and drain 3s, he has more value than a bench player who requires minutes to develop any rhythm. If an emergency point guard can run a sharp offense despite not playing for two weeks, he has an edge. The same goes for bigs. If a specialist big can accept that his workload will be matchup dependent, and he’s able to thrive regardless of the circumstances, he has value over those who demand a regimented routine.”
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