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Thursday Bolts – 10.6.16

Thursday Bolts – 10.6.16

Anthony Slater of the Mercury News: “General manager Sam Presti cultivated a business-like


work environment in Oklahoma City. It stems from his Spurs background. The practice facility is kept spotless. Every racked basketball is lined up perfectly with the one next to it, Spalding logo facing outward. Take a water from the fridge, it’ll be restocked within the hour. If you’re not a paid member of the Thunder organization, don’t step on the court. That’s for players and team personnel. It’s a sanctuary for work. The building is kept quiet and uncluttered. That mode of operation worked well for the Thunder, jiving perfectly with their stars. Russell Westbrook and Durant are about as task-oriented and focused as NBA players get. Their no-nonsense approach bled through the rest of the organization. They didn’t win fewer than 47 games the past seven seasons. But Durant’s new team goes about things a bit differently. Music blares during and after practice. The gym is often packed, people shuffling all around. Work gets done, but the environment is more boisterous, frantic, alive.”

Brett Dawson: “Enes Kanter ran his hand over his face. He grabbed at the bottom of his shorts then threw his arms up in frustration. The Thunder center didn’t give up points on the play, but he was again exploited in the pick-and-roll, committing too far as his assignment streaked past him to the rim. FC Barcelona was targeting Kanter, the same as Real Madrid did two nights before. But with Steven Adams watching intently a row behind the Thunder’s bench in his warmups, Kanter went to the sideline for a few minutes and came back stronger.”

Thunder talking on the Locked On pod.

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com says Russ is OKC’s most important defender: “Point blank, when Westbrook is invested on the defensive end, the Thunder can still be really good to great. When he’s disinterested or saving himself for offense, the Thunder are pliable and can be bent back like saplings in a hurricane. The Thunder need Westbrook’s offense, sure. More than that, though, they need him to bring it on the defensive end, and lock down guys. He’s got good defenders next to him in Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Stay in games with defense, win them with Westbrook. That needs to be the approach for OKC, and that starts with Westbrook taking regular-season defense seriously for the first time in years. Durant is no longer there to bail him out on nights where he doesn’t show up on defense.”

Domas Sabonis isn’t included in this list of ROY frontrunners.

Jeremy Woo of SI.com on strange over/unders: “Well, it’s totally too early in this column to push, but can I push? I get the enthusiasm about Russell Westbrook evolving into basketball Jason Statham, but look … he’s never had to go a full year without Kevin Durant. That can’t hurt his counting stats too much, but seems certain to impact his efficiency to some degree. You can point to 2014–15 (the year KD was mostly out) as a better barometer, when he shot 42% from the floor and averaged 28 points. There was that two-week stretch where he was absolutely unguardable and played with a broken face. And regardless, he totaled a score of 44 points-assists-rebounds that year. It’s nice that Russ got double-digit dimes last year, but let’s just remember for a second that the person those passes were mostly going to is no longer on this team. There are a lot of reasons to think 45 is a tricky number.”