5 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 1.15.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game against the Hawks: “As the Thunder hits the road again for a quick one-game trip to Atlanta to face the Hawks, it wants to continue shoring up some defensive slippage that cropped up last week in losses to the Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs. Head Coach Billy Donovan’s crew righted the ship on Saturday in its revenge win over the Spurs, but the team wants to use its talent, versatility and flexibility to knock their 102.9 defensive rating back down towards 100, where it stood for most of the first half of the season. “We’re such a good defensive team and we’ve got a lot of guys that can guard,” said George. “On the defensive end, our identity, how we want to play, we’re doing a great job,” echoed Dennis Schröder. “And we’ve just got to keep improving.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) with an Andre Roberson update: “Almost a year after Andre Roberson ruptured his left patellar tendon, he is “not anywhere near playing,” according to Thunder coach Billy Donovan. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do,” Donovan said Monday after practice, “but he’s still in the rehab process.” Roberson suffered the initial injury on Jan. 27, but he experienced a setback 6 1/2 weeks ago, when an MRI on Nov. 29 revealed an avulsion fracture in his left knee. At the time, he was expected to be out for at least six more weeks. There is no timetable for his return, Donovan said Monday.”

Rob Mahoney (SI) on why Paul George is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year: “This has been a brilliant season by George from top to bottom, and perhaps most impressive on defense. It can be difficult for wing players to challenge for Defensive Player of the Year due to the nature of their responsibilities; some are siloed in such a way that their impact is overly specific. Not George (nor, for that matter, Covington). Oklahoma City relies on George to not only lock down some of the league’s most dangerous perimeter scorers, but to disrupt the process that might help them create. When a set calls for the ball to pass through his side of the floor, George will deny it to the point of detonating the play altogether. Even if a pass does eventually get through, George will have drained the shot clock, rushing the next action in sequence.”

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on Patrick Patterson quietly finding his shooting stroke: “More good news for the Thunder, Patrick Patterson appears to again be the 3-point threat the Thunder thought he could be when they brought him in prior to last season. Patterson’s a 36.7 percent career 3-point shooter, and still just a 32.7 percent 3-point shooter this season. Yet, that figure is up quite a bit from earlier points in the season. Patterson shot 38.1 percent from distance in six October games before failing to break 30 percent in both November and December. Yet, in six January games, he’s at 43.8 percent (11 of 24) from distance and is coming off a 3-of-3 performance against San Antonio.”

Ben Cohen (Wall Street Journal) on Russell Westbrook’s historically bad three-point shooting this season: “He’s the best in many parts of the game. He plays harder and collects more triple-doubles than anyone in basketball. His glare could knock over an elephant, and his style makes other NBA fashion icons look like slobs. But there is also one small part of his game that could use a slight bit of improvement. Westbrook is having the single worst 3-point shooting season in the history of the NBA. No one who has taken as many threes per game as Westbrook has ever made them at a lower rate. The NBA record for such bad 3-point shooting in a season is 27%. Westbrook would wear Zubaz to shoot 27%. He is currently shooting 23%. He’s the face of the flip side of the 3-point revolution. There are more shooters than ever in today’s NBA. And that means there are more bad shooters than ever.”

Bobby Marks (ESPN) on signing restrictions being lifted today: “The signing restrictions for Marcus Smart, Joe Harris, Zach LaVine, Rodney Hood, Nikola Jokic, Will Barton, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Avery Bradley, Montrezl Harrell, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Aaron Gordon, Jusuf Nurkic, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes, Fred VanVleet, Derrick Favors, Raul Neto and Dante Exum will be lifted on Tuesday January 15. Hood and LaVine have veto power on any trade. The restriction was based on the 20 players signing with the early or bird exception and the first season of their new contract greater than 120% from the previous season.”

Jenni Carlson (Oklahoman) on Steven Adams’ journey to the NBA: “Even in New Zealand, Adams was largely an unknown. He played sparingly for the national teams, and even though he was part of a club, he didn’t play a ton of games for the top squad. During his last year of high school in 2011, he was part of the Wellington Saints’ New Zealand National Basketball League championship team, but he wasn’t like many international phenoms who get worldwide exposure before college. Offering Adams a scholarship was a risk. Calculated, but still. “It’s just projection,” Jamie Dixon admitted. “Knowing Kenny and seeing how he was coaching him and developing him and knowing the history of the family … you just figured he was going to work hard.”

Zach Harper (Athletic) has the Thunder fifth in his power rankings: “They’re the best defense in the NBA. Paul George has been playing like the Defensive Player of the Year. Steven Adams plays like an animal on defense, as long as we’re accepting the premise that animals are extremely good at defense. Jerami Grant gives them a ton of versatility on defense. The bench has been very good at keeping that same energy on the defensive end of the floor. If they can get Roberson back on the court, the peak of this team defense will be beyond suffocating. They got outcoached and outplayed in the series against Utah last year, but the top end of this defense can get them through multiple playoff series (not against Golden State).”

Nick DePaula (Nice Kicks) on the Why Not Zer0.2 being the best Jordan sneaker in years: “That real signature feel can take a simple sneaker to another tier, carrying with it a connective imprint from the player, and even more personality once the further materialization and color cues are layered on. It’s why Russell Westbrook’s second signature sneaker with Jordan is the best non-game shoe that the brand has launched in years, perhaps even dating all the way back to the early 2000s. At first glance, it’s a decidedly outlandish shoe — but that’s entirely the point — it’s exactly, perfectly Russell. This is the dude that wears a suit with no undershirt one night, a neon parka the next, and basically mom jeans right afterward. He’ll rock his underrated Vans-leaning Westbrook 0.3s through one tunnel, Air Monarchs right after, and then splash in a high-fashion monstrosity like the Balenciaga Triple S in the same week.”

Around the League: ESPN predicts end-of-season awards and results…. James Harden dropped 57 last night…. Iman Shumpert wanted to fight the Trail Blazers…. Tony Parker returned to San Antonio as a Hornet…. The Mavericks are seriously shopping Dennis Smith Jr….. Clint Capela is out 4-6 weeks…. Dakari Johnson is dominating in China.