Nylon Calculus: “I realize that Russell Westbrook is a menace to opposing teams no matter
what the stats exactly say, and that all stats should be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s important we all understand that not all rebounds are the same, among other truths. Some rebounds are tougher than others, and they should appropriately receive more credit. It’s best when Westbrook grabs a defensive board because he can blitz the defense and lead his team to an easier opportunity, but I question the utility with free throw rebounds, where defenses are more prepared and he could just as easily stay close to the halfcourt line and await a pass from someone else before attacking. Soon we’re going to get serious with MVP discussions, and we should all understand what the stats are indicating.”
Brett Dawson: “Oklahoma City allowed 106.4 points per 100 possessions in January, two points more than in November or December, and it scored 104.0, its lowest output in any month. That minus-2.4 net rating was its first net negative month of the season. The Thunder also had its worst month yet shooting from the floor (44.8 percent) and from the 3-point line (26.7 percent). But so far in January, OKC has faced six of the NBA’s top 10-rated defenses. San Antonio will be the seventh.”
I wrote something on the Thunder’s month, and how for the most part, they survived.
Berry Tramel: “Abrines is no match for the NBA’s better penetrators, at least not yet. Singler can at least bother the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving a little bit; Singler produced a couple of solid defensive plays Sunday, though his offense was rather abysmal. But that’s a sign that Donovan is committed to defense. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jerami Grant play more and more in Kanter’s absence – Grant played 25:03 vs. Cleveland. It seems rather clear that the Thunder is better at defense than offense, especially with Kanter out. Donovan will have to find the right balance, but might as well play to your strength.”
Fred Katz: “Tuesday won’t be just another night at home for Roberson, though. Sure, family time was on the budget for Monday evening. But the next day would be a bit more exhausting. That’s when Roberson has to guard Spurs star Kawhi Leonard for the first time since last year’s Western Conference Semifinals, when the Thunder defeated San Antonio in six games. That series, in some ways, was Roberson’s coming out party. Leonard finished second in last year’s MVP voting, and Roberson, a defensive stopper who had stifled mostly guards over the first three years of his career, was going to have to shadow someone bigger and probably stronger than him. But he stood up to Leonard’s post-ups, to one of the league’s best 3-point marksman’s long-range accuracy. The Spurs’ best player put up numbers in that series, but while playing against his hometown team, Roberson laid a plan for how the Thunder could use him moving forward.”
Michael Lee of The Vertical: “When he made his Fourth of July announcement, Durant informed Westbrook, half of a fearsome twosome for eight years, of the news with a text message. O’Neal never gave Hardaway any warning of his plans to leave Orlando for the Los Angeles Lakers, even as they were teammates on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team in Atlanta that summer. “I was definitely blindsided,” Hardaway told The Vertical. “I didn’t know that he had signed the deal. Reporters started asking me questions about it, ‘How does it feel not to have Shaq?’ I was, ‘If that’s the case, then I wish him well.’ I didn’t think he was already gone. So I really got blindsided. I never talked to him during that whole Olympics.'”