Erik Horne on Russell Westbrook’s Why Not event last night in OKC: “The event started at 7 p.m., but the man of the community, who signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the Thunder came through around 7:45 p.m. The multitude of teens raised their camera phones high when Westbrook took the stage. Moments later, he called up Mustang sophomore Matthew Garza, who was the best pop-a-shot player among the high schoolers Monday night.”
Brett Dawson on the Thunder being in talks with rookie PJ Dozier for a two-way spot: “Dozier, a 6-foot-6 guard, went undrafted after playing two seasons at South Carolina. He played for the Lakers’ Summer League team in July and was in camp with the Dallas Mavericks before he was waived on Saturday.”
Fred Katz on Thunder iso-ball & more: “The Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping isolation isn’t such a bad thing if it’s done right. The Thunder employ three elite isolation players, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. And though all three like to take opponents one-on-one often, coach Billy Donovan isn’t necessarily trying to stifle their habits. It’s the opposite. He’s trying to use them for good.”
The B/R staff predicts Paul George will receive more MVP votes than Russell Westbrook: “Predicting that George will get more recognition for the Thunder’s rise than Westbrook feels disingenuous on some level. The reigning MVP will have the ball in his hands more by default and has never been one to take a back seat—not even during his days with Kevin Durant. But George is the more balanced player, and his defense specifically molds an identity that could end up creating at least a minor headache for the Warriors. If the Thunder are going to contend for a top-two playoff seed while giving both their new stars a reason to stick around long term, they’ll need contract-year George (player option) to make good on his MVP promise.”
Brian Mazique (Forbes) recaps the annual NBA 2K season simulation: “The Oklahoma City Thunder’s new Big Three didn’t prevent Russell Westbrook from having another outstanding individual season. He won his second straight MVP averaging 26.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. However, the Thunder lacked the requisite depth to contend for a title and were eliminated in the Conference Semifinals by the Houston Rockets.”
Rahul Lal (Rockets Wire) on James Harden believing this Rockets team is the best team he’s played on: “Obviously, the Oklahoma City team was very, very talented but, from top-to-bottom, this team is really deep,” Harden said after being asked whether this team was the best he’s been on.”
Howard Beck (B/R) on the new superstar reality of the NBA: “Even the arms race atop the West is being fueled in part by happenstance. The Thunder would still be a one-star show if George and Anthony hadn’t grown disillusioned with their prior teams. The Rockets wouldn’t have Paul if he still believed in the Clippers. And yet, there is a clear imperative at work for these franchises: If you have a superstar in his prime, there’s no choice but to keep adding, lest you waste his best years. Every move necessarily takes the Warriors into consideration.”
Knicks rookie PG Frank Ntilikina discusses facing Russell Westbrook in his first NBA game: “Westbrook is a very talented point guard,” Ntilikina said after practice Monday. “Every point guard in the league is very talented and you have to be ready for every challenge. Defensively, as offensively, you have to be ready to compete, and that’s what I will do. Westbrook is the MVP. It’s going to be fun.”
New episode of Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood: Previewing the Thunder season with David Brandon of 16WinsaRing and *ominous music* Justin.
Quick Note: As some of you know, the site was down for an hour late last night/this morning for maintenance. Final touches are going into the redesign, and preparing for launch ahead of Thursday’s season opener. Stay tuned.