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Tuesday Bolts: 10.2.18

Zach Lowe (ESPN) has the Thunder 15th on his list of must-watch teams in 2018-19: “They tank the minutia category. The logo belongs on an off-brand laundry detergent. The court is blah. Three of the uniforms are horrific. The broadcast radiates a screeching us-against-everyone homerism — something I expect to continue even with a new play-by-play announcer. But you can’t deny the visceral thrill of Russell Westbrook flying down court, unconcerned with his bodily safety or those three defenders between him and the basket. Paul George is, of course, a boss. There is a delightful dissonance between the softness of Steven Adams’ floater and his titanium body. He is also a nightly threat to become the first player ever to grab 20 offensive rebounds and zero defensive rebounds in the same game. Every Andre Roberson jump shot is a cliffhanger. I enjoy the mimed muttonchops celebration for Alex Abrines 3-pointers.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder’s preseason rotation at shooting guard: “As the Thunder waits patiently on the rehabilitation of Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson, the question turns to who fills their minutes. At least one of those questions has been answered in the starting lineup with Dennis Schroder at point guard. Patrick Patterson has positioned himself to be the starter at power forward, with Jerami Grant playing heavy minutes across the entire frontcourt. But the shooting guard position remains a question. Even when Roberson was healthy, the Thunder found alternatives to close games as a remedy to some of his limitations on offense. Even though the distribution of minutes is more important than who starts, it still bears watching who will start at shooting guard when the Thunder opens preseason against the Pistons on Wednesday. Who will start alongside Schroder, Patterson, Paul George and Steven Adams? Here’s a look at where the top candidates stand.”

Viva la Singler:

Moke Hamilton (The Athletic) on the Knicks being the loser of the Melo trade one year later: “A lot can change in a year. Just ask Sam Presti.<p class=”p3″>Heading into the summer of 2017, Presti probably had a few sleepless nights. Russell Westbrook was believed to have had one foot out the door, and the Thunder were desperately trying to figure out how to dust themselves off in the wake of Kevin Durant’s departure. One year later, they enter the 2018-19 season as a team with more franchise-caliber players than distractions and one that should be taken quite seriously in the Western Conference. Truth be told, they’ll be better off without Carmelo Anthony. Just like the New York Knicks were.”

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on if Russell Westbrook will need to change his style to play faster: “While it may be unquestioned that nobody moves faster in possession of the basketball than Westbrook, it may also be true that Westbrook can’t expect to possess the ball so often if the Thunder are to, in fact, play faster. Additionally, because Westbrook continues to recover from proactive knee surgery and hasn’t been on the court thus far in training camp, how he might acclimate to the changes Patterson described can only be speculated upon. Thunder coach Billy Donovan could, however, speak to what playing faster might look like with Westbrook on the floor. He said Westbrook’s “going to have to do some of that stuff,” like let the ball come out of his hands with more frequency. Yet, in his next sentence, Donovan began to make a bigger point. If the Thunder are moving faster, with and without the ball, it’s going to afford more opportunities for the team to take advantage of Westbrook’s inherent speed and quickness. “Playing faster … gives him opportunities with people that are in front of him, to give him options to pass it, to do some of those things,” Donovan said. “We’ve always been really fast on missed shots … At times, I think, on made baskets, we’ve been a more slower up team and we’ve got to play with more tempo.”

Not one for professional wrestling — but this Sonics/Thunder bit last night in Seattle was unbelievable:

Mark Medina on PJ Carlesimo’s belief that KD would still be in Seattle had the team never left: “Perhaps Durant would have remained tied with a franchise that already had a rich history with luminaries, including Wilkens, Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, Spencer Haywood, Nate McMillan, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. “I don’t know why it would’ve been any different with the success they had at OKC,” Welts said. “It’s the same group, ownership and GM. You would expect they would have the same trajectory.” Then again….. “I think he’d still be in Seatlle, frankly. He enjoyed Seattle,” Carlesimo said.  “They would’ve been more likely able to attract a free agent. People would’ve wanted to stay in Seattle. It’s a great place to play. But I really enjoyed Oklahoma City when I was there. He would’ve only been in a different building and wearing green and gold. It certainly wouldn’t be any less. But I think maybe they would’ve won a championship by now and he would still be in Seattle. But that’s just my opinion.”

Albert Dadson (Hoops Habit) with goals for the 2018-19 Thunder: “Last season the Thunder had problems putting the ball in the hoop in the fourth quarter. The inability to find offense ended their season when they had a stretch late in the fourth during Game 6 of their first round playoff series in which they missed five shots in a row trailing by three points. For the Thunder to have a good season, they will have to find a way to score, especially late in games. Schroder will help this cause. If free throws need to be shot at the end of the game Schroder’s 84.9 percent from last season is reassuring. Westbrook can improve (73.7 percent), while George is another reliable option (82.2 percent). Getting Paul George more open shots by utilizing Westbrook as a decoy when he drives to the rim will help. Paul George getting more isolation looks going to the basket will help as well.”

Around the League: Inside the NBA’s social media addiction…. Kyrie Irving is sorry for saying the world is flat…. The NBA will likely ban Kanye West’s basketball shoe…. Kevin Durant reflects on his time in Seattle…. 24 deep questions for 2018-19…. Patrick McCaw rejected a contract offer from the Warriors…. Can LeBron handle losing in LA?