5 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 10.23.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) on the Thunder’s approach to 0-3: “The crucial thing for the Thunder will be to hold onto the rope, and keep trusting in the offensive flow that helped generate 59 field goal attempts in the paint and 39 attempts from behind the three-point line against Sacramento, leaving just six non-paint two-point attempts for the game. “The biggest thing is we moved the ball,” Donovan stated. “We got to the paint. We kicked it out. I thought we generated good shots. I didn’t think we got stagnant. We played really with good pace and tempo and speed coming down the floor.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on how Billy Donovan is handling Terrance Ferguson’s minutes/confidence: “It’s only three games into the season, but Hamidou Diallo is challenging Donovan and how much confidence he can still show Ferguson, who’s struggled on offense and defense against the Warriors, Clippers and Kings. Ferguson’s struggles are a small sample size that’s been magnified because of how well the Thunder’s other 20-year-old wing player is performing. Diallo, the second-round pick from Kentucky, has played nearly half the minutes of Ferguson — 38 to Ferguson’s 63 — yet is outpacing him in every significant category but rebounds. Most important to the Thunder’s current struggles is shooting percentage, where Diallo is shooting 58.3 percent (7-of-12) to Ferguson’s 13.3 percent (2-of-15). Beyond the numbers, the eye test has Diallo and Alex Abrines playing better than Ferguson at the moment, which has raised questions about how long Donovan can go with Ferguson in the starting five and outpacing the other wings in minutes. Abrines’ minutes (61) are at least in the ballpark of Ferguson’s, but Diallo is far behind. Players such as Deonte Burton, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Abdel Nader have played eight minutes combined, all via Burton.”

Chris Murch (Thunder Wire) on Billy Donovan’s confidence in Patrick Patterson: “You have to look at a body of work over 82 games. So, when you talk about Patrick as a three-point shooter, you’re basically saying his career. So I don’t know if you can take a three-game sample size and now put that into his career. I just don’t think that’s fair. Is he capable of shooting better? Yes. Do we need him to shoot better? Yes. That’s what his role is, to be able to stretch the floor and be able to do that.”

Dan Devine (Ringer) on if it’s too early to worry about the Thunder: “The Thunder as a whole are getting up a healthy number of long-range looks—36.3 per game, eighth-most in the league—but they’ve clanged the lion’s share of them, ranking 25th in 3-pointers made and last in team 3-point accuracy. It’s been a similar story at the charity stripe; only two teams have generated more free throw attempts than the Thunder, but only one has made fewer. At the risk of lobbing an NBA Desktop–worthy scorcher of a take, it is exceedingly tough to win games by making shots only directly in front of the basket, especially without an elite defense to force the opponent into a rock fight. This is the model OKC will follow with Roberson, George, and Adams all available to suffocate the opposition. But until Roberson’s healthy enough to make that an option, they’re going to have to figure something else out.”

Erik Horne on the release of the OKC Blue training camp roster: “Guards: Bryce Alford (6-foot-3, 185 pounds); **Deonte Burton (6-5, 245); Abdul Gaddy (6-3, 185); Scotty Hopson (6-7, 204); Dee Oldham (6-4, 208) Forwards: Donte Grantham (6-8, 205); Kevin Hervey (6-9, 230); Justin Leon (6-8, 206); K.J. McDaniels 6-6, 205); Amivot Singh (6-8, 229); Bandon Swannegan (6-9, 209); Dez Wells (6-5, 215); Chris Wright (6-8, 226)”

Fred Katz (Athletic) on measuring passing accuracy: “Yet, Westbrook is locked dead even with Harden and Wall, two guys notorious for creating proper looks on the perimeter. All three had a pass accuracy rate of 73 percent in the sample ChartSide analyzed. And inconsistent with the alleged recklessness he shows in other areas, Westbrook doesn’t often throw the ball away needlessly. When he finds an open shooter, defined as a defender being four or more feet away or not guarding with a hand up, he makes a good pass 83.1 percent of the time, second-best among this quintet to James, who makes an accurate pass 84.5 percent of the time when shooters are open. There is, however, a reason Westbrook’s style could contribute to his rep, even beyond the general enthusiasm that makes him a controversial figure in NBA circles: his bad passes might be worse than bad passes from Harden or Wall. And those can stand out to the most casual and most expert onlookers. Of the aforementioned trio that virtually tied in overall accuracy, Westbrook’s teammates have the largest difference between effective field-goal percentage on good passes and effective field-goal percentage on bad ones — in Westbrook’s case, 60 percent with the good and 36 percent with the bad.”

Bobby Marks (ESPN) breaks down the Thunder’s cap situation: “How the roster was built: Draft rights: 6, Trade: 5, FA signings: 5, Salary rank: No. 1, Average weighted age: No. 8, Available exceptions: Tax midlevel ($4.5M) and trade ($10.8M, expires July 25), Available cash for trades: To send: $3.0M, To receive: $4.8M, Financials: Team salary: $145,575,563, Over the tax: $21,842,563, Tax penalty: $73.8M”

Haley O’Shaugnessy (Ringer) has Billy Donovan on her way-too-early list of NBA coaches who may be on the hot seat: “Lately, Oklahoma City’s front office is far more efficient than its 3-point shooting, which is a pretty low bar. In a matter of three years, the Thunder have had a mixed bag of personnel moves: They lost a top-two player in the league, flipped old assets (Serge Ibaka) for new ones (Victor Oladipo), traded players who didn’t work, and re-signed those who did. Paul George stayed and Russell Westbrook is at the top of his game. The wait is supposed to be over. Maybe Donovan’s leash is also longer because the franchise has done so much retooling of its roster. But even before the latest upheavals, Donovan had a reputation for not being able to get through to Westbrook, and as a result, his offense looks how Westbrook wants it to look. For all the offseason overhauling, the Thunder are still scrambling to find new ways to score. With Andre Roberson out until at least December, they won’t be able to counter those shortcomings on defense as effectively. This is supposed to be the season they make their return to contention, and OKC’s front office is running out of things to change.”

Around the League: The Lakers are 0-3…. The NBA handed out shockingly short suspensions to CP3, Brandon Ingram, and Rajon Rondo…. DeMarcus Cousins is reportedly making good progress in his return from injury…. The Trail Blazers showed up to the game last night in Halloween costumes…. James Harden says the Rockets are feeling the heat…. Joel Embiid has colorful thoughts about…everything.