Jeff Siegel (Complex) examines Steven Adams’ crucial role on the Thunder: “While some big men throughout the league are useless as they get further away from the basket, Adams has at least been able to add this floater to his game, which catches opponents by surprise and also helps his burgeoning post game, which can be effective despite the fact he doesn’t always look to post defenders up. Down low, he uses great footwork and strength to bully through opposing big men with a quick drop step, then will counter with a feathery hook shot that looks similar to his one-hand floater. There’s not a lot of flash to Adams’ game, but he’s brutally effective in his key areas. An above-average finisher inside, he pairs his physicality with underrated footwork and touch with the ball in his hands to extend his range out to about 8-10 feet from the hoop. He’s a menace on the glass on both sides of the court, even if it doesn’t quite show up in his defensive rebounding numbers the way it does on the offensive end.”
Tommy Beer (Forbes) grades the Thunder’s signing of Nerlens Noel: “In July 2017, Dallas reportedly offered Noel a four-year, $70 million contract. Regrettably, Noel turned it down and signed a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer with the Mavs, with the hope that he’d be able to cash in in 2018. After a disastrous 2017-18 campaign, Noel had to settle for just $3.5 million. It was a shrewd investment by Oklahoma City: Noel is still just 24 and has flashed enticing upside on both ends of the floor when given an opportunity to play consistently. For his career, he is averaging 12.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes. Per Basketball-Reference, he is the only qualified player in league history to average more than two steals and two blocks per 36. Grade: B-“
Dan Favale (B/R) with one throwback jersey every team needs — which won’t/shouldn’t happen in OKC: “This is 1.5 parts mean, 2.5 parts amazing. We need more pictures of Russell Westbrook in a Seattle Supersonics jersey. Actually, on second thought, we just need the Sonics back in our lives, period.”
Gerald Bourget (HoopsHabit) ranks Jerami Grant as the 28th best starting (?) power forward in the NBA: “With Carmelo Anthony gone and Patrick Patterson‘s 2017-18 struggles still fresh in everyone’s minds, Jerami Grant feels like the frontrunner to start at power forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder. After re-signing him to a three-year, $27 million deal, the front office might agree on that front. Last year, Grant was OKC’s primary scorer off the bench by default, averaging 8.4 points per game on 53.5 percent shooting. He’s a great cutter off the ball, a tenacious defender and an active shot-blocker, and at 24 years old, he could be ready to assert himself as a starting-caliber player. However, he can’t really spread the floor as a career 30.1 percent 3-point shooter, which would make him the second cutter/non-shooter in the starting lineup alongside Andre Roberson. Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams aren’t 3-point marksmen either, so it’s worth asking whether the Thunder could field a respectable offense with so many non-shooters on the floor at once.”
Wael Saghir (The Score) with Walt Frazier’s critical comments about Kevin Durant: “Count New York Knicks legend Walt Frazier as one of Durant’s critics, as the color commentator believes Durant tarnished his legacy by jumping ship. “There will be an asterisk next to his name,” Frazier told SiriusXM NBA Radio Tuesday, according to New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. He added: “Durant, as great a player he is, I would still hold back (giving him credit) because he joined a team that really didn’t need him. He’s right there with LeBron, probably would’ve surpassed LeBron as the best player in the game soon, but for him doing that I still don’t give him the full credit that he probably would’ve deserved if he stayed in OKC and won a title with that team.”
Kyle Singler Watch: Is the Singler era nearly over in OKC? The clock is ticking.
Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) about what the Kyle Singler decision will mean for the Thunder: “It’s very tempting to save the money. Almost a slam dunk. Getting rid of a contract for a player who has no place in the franchise is a kind of addition by subtraction, like cleaning your closet of clothes unworn, only so much better, because in this case Goodwill is prepared to write you a $23.4 million check. It also means you could put a guy like No. 57 pick Kevin Hervey on your roster because, who knows, maybe Hervey can really play. He was pretty good in the Vegas summer league, right? Indeed, the only reason not to stretch Singler is because he might make decent bait coming up on the Feb. 7 trade deadline. Why’s that? Well, say some other team has its own version of Singler, a player who’s not really part of its plans, but with time left on his contract, maybe more time than Singler has left on his. A team like that might want Singler, trading its own unwanted long-term commitment for the Thunder’s very short-term commitment.”
Matt Giles (Ball Durham) on why Kyle Singler should return to Duke when he gets waived: “And as soon as the Thunder take advantage of this provision in order to kick Singler to the curb, other teams aren’t exactly going to be lining up to sign the 30-year-old. So what’s next? Here’s a suggestion: Singler should return to the Duke Blue Devils, where his former teammates — Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith — are now playing vital roles within the program. Scheyer is the associate head coach, and Smith is the director of basketball operations. Although there may not be a current opening on the coaching staff, surely head coach Mike Krzyzewski would find something for Singler to do. Singler, Smith, and Scheyer combined to form arguably the second-most accomplished trio of stars to play together at Duke (it would be difficult for any group to ever top Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill). And it would be comforting to watch the three leaders from the Blue Devils’ 2010 National Championship team helping to mold current and future Duke basketball players.”
Ronald Agers (Lake Show Life) about why Paul George returning to OKC was a favor to the Lakers: “Paul George doesn’t get it. Based on how he was acting, the Lakers had every right to assume that he was coming. Kind of like that Kawhi Leonard dude in Toronto. If you have already stated you want to come to L.A. why would the Lakers trade their assets? That theory is beneficial for both sides. I’m starting to see a business model here. Here are some things that might have happened to cause confusion. Besides the Amick report… George appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Don’t they tape that show in L.A.?) to talk about the prospect of joining the Lakers. I mean that might leave a clue. How about the reports of you SPECIFICALLY asking to be traded to the Lakers before being traded to OKC. Umm, you can’t blame the Pacers for not trying and if they did try, you can’t blame the Lakers for turning down the offers. The Pacers knew you were gone and they got the best deal they could. Hello Victor Oladipo. But I will say something that history in the NBA shows us… Sometimes the best deals are the ones that are never made.”
Around the League: The day Uncle Drew found out Kyrie Irving was traded…. The one-and-done rule is in danger…. David West is retiring from the NBA…. Number one options that would be better off as sidekicks…. Walt Frazier doesn’t think Melo should have his jersey retired in New York…. Projected NBA playoff seeding…. Timing is everything — except in the 2018 free agent market.