Bill Simmons of The Ringer on LeBron: “The man has played 199 of 199 possible playoff games.
He has logged nearly 47,000 minutes including the playoffs, more than anyone through their first 13 years except Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. He has never suffered a major injury. He’s slapped up 27–7–7 so many times that there’s been an internet push to name that stat line after him. (How many LeBrons will Westbrook get this year? Like, 50?) We’re decades away from worrying about artificial intelligence basketball players, but when one finally sneaks into the league, it will probably be modeled after LeBron and everything he’s done.”
Marc Stein has OKC seventh: “Over the past two seasons, Russell Westbrook has averaged 30.5 points, 9.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds in 48 games played without Kevin Durant at his side. The only player in NBA history to put up that sort of stat line over the course of an entire season is Oscar Robertson, but who would dare suggest Angry Russ can’t follow suit now that he’ll have the opportunity? Friendly reminder: GQ (Westbrook) vs. Rolling Stone (KD), Take 1, is only 10 days away in Oakland.”
Jacob Unruh for USA Today: “Of course, the Thunder have long recognized Westbrook’s abilities. The do-or-die mentality. The unbelievable fast breaks. The lockdown defense that creates fast-break dunks with a rare viciousness. Even the sometimes agonizing shot selection they are forced to live with in good and bad times. Now, without Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka for the first time in his career, the thought is that all those traits will create a Westbrook show that’s must-see every night.”
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider: “Over an 82-game season, six wins is a lot, especially when we’re looking at the gap between two teams, because both win totals can be expected to be off by about six games on average — for a total of 12 games. In the Western Conference, the Warriors’ 12-game cushion in RPM projections means we could be overestimating them and underestimating the Spurs by an average amount and still have them in a dead heat for first in the conference. The Eastern Conference is a different story. The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are both within six games of the Cavaliers’ projection, making it realistic they finish ahead of Cleveland in the regular season.”
Danny Chau of The Ringer on Steven Adams: “Adams is on the path to becoming one of the league’s elite big men, but he’d sooner let loose a quip about how his success stems from all the fortune cookies he’s eaten in his lifetime than tell a soul that he is chasing greatness. With every self-deprecating joke, he shatters the veneer of self-serious stardom anew. He has willfully isolated himself from the mythmaking factory of the modern athlete. It’s what makes him unique; it’s what makes his growth all the more astonishing.”
Erik Horne: “The 23-year-old Christon impressed the Thunder with five games of steady play at point guard this preseason, averaging 7.0 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game. Christon also shot 48.5 percent from the floor, giving the Thunder more of an offensive punch off the bench than Price. The Thunder has long thought of Christon as an NBA player since drafting him No. 55 overall in 2014. He built chemistry with Payne in the summer league in Orlando and Christon carried over that strong play in winning the third guard spot in preseason camp. If the Thunder waived Christon, it would have given up his draft rights, thus making him eligible to be signed by any team.”