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Tuesday Bolts: 9.4.18

Brett Dawson on why Russell Westbrook is the greatest Thunder player of all-time: “Westbrook has a long way to go before he spends his entire career with the Thunder, but he’s on that track. He’s one of four active NBA players who have spent 10 or more consecutive seasons with their current teams. Only Nowitzki, Miami’s Udonis Haslem (15 seasons) and Memphis’ Mike Conley (11) and Marc Gasol (10) have played as many or more. “It’s a new league now,” Nowitzki said. “It’s different. Guys want to play with guys they know. And teams — look what happened to DeMar DeRozan. He was loyal, he signed on long-term (with Toronto) and the next thing you know, he’s (traded). I understand both sides. I do understand the business side of it. It might be that the path that I took, that Russell is taking, might not be for everyone.”

That path so far has been for Westbrook, and that’s endeared him to OKC, but loyalty hardly is his lone legacy. He helped guide the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals. He won the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player award. He’s averaged double-digit points, rebounds and assists in two straight seasons, the first player in NBA history to have two seasonlong triple-double averages. Westbrook leads the Oklahoma City franchise in points and assists, and he needs 89 rebounds to surpass Durant atop that list. In 10 seasons, he’s helped the Thunder reach the playoffs eight times, appearing in 93 playoff games.”

Joseph Zucker (B/R) with a KD-related story from Steven Adams’ new autobiography: “I found out later that the moment I was drafted someone tweeted ‘WELP STEVEN ADAMS TO OKC’ and Kevin Durant apparently replied ‘smh’. He deleted the tweet and replaced it with ‘Welcome Steven Adams’.”

Jake Paynting (DefPen) on Dennis Schroder’s impact on the Thunder bench: “His spark-inducing first step is the most deadly aspect to Dennis Schroder’s game, and he uses it to perfection in isolation. Whether he has a big defender switched onto him or his usual matchup, their chances are slim to none when the German puts his head down and buries his way to the cup. Schroder finished the season in the 90th percentile on isolation chances, scoring more points per possession than superstar defense-breakers like Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry and Victor Oladipo. With Schroder at the helm, the wave of offensive attack projects to be much stronger heading into the 2018-19 campaign. His mono e mono magic is fun to watch, but Schroder will be asked to do a lot more than showcase his isolation ability if he wants to prop Oklahoma’s second unit up. His 32 percent career clip from 3-point range renders him incapable of off-ball success, but he can still run the pick-and-roll with potency.”

Zamir Bueno (Sir Charles in Charge) on why ‘system player’ doesn’t make much sense: “However, one can argue that the majority of NBA players fall under the category of system players because they have significant flaws that prevent them from excelling in specific systems. A prime example of this is superstar guard Russell Westbrook. His biggest weakness is 3-point shooting. Westbrook has a career shooting percentage of 31.1 percent from behind the arc. As a consequence, Westbrook couldn’t play in a ball movement because it would require him to spend some time in the spot-up shooter role. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t thrive in the role because his 3-point percentage is significantly below the league average for this past season (36.2%). This puts the opposing team in a good position defensively when Westbrook is in that particular role because they can afford to leave him open to provide help defense elsewhere. Russell Westbrook isn’t the prominent player who would have issues thriving in a ball movement offense as similar shooting woes plague John Wall.”

Kaushik Turlapaty (Sportskeeda) looks at the top 10 highest-scoring games of Westbrook’s career: “Westbrook exploded for 58 points in this one and went for 21-39 from the field, with a field-goal percentage of 53.8. He went to the free-throw line 16 times and converted 13 of those attempts. He was +7 on the game and had game-high 9 assists but the Thunder once again couldn’t get the win when Russ scored career-high. The Thunder entered half-time with a six-point lead but Portland came back stronger in the second half and gained a seven-point lead at the end of third quarter. In the end, Portland held on to win the game, 126-121. Though this was not his best-game in terms of efficiency as evident even from his three-point shooting percentage of 33.3, going for 3-9 along with 4 turnovers, he had his moments including some breath-taking coast-to-coast layups.”

OKCThunder.com with three must-see Thunder features: Including Nick Collison/Steven Adams documentaries and an inside look at the Paul George summer house party.

Jovan Buha (The Athletic) spoke with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander about his excitement to face Westbrook: The Athletic: Which player are you most looking forward to going up against this season? Gilgeous-Alexander: Russell Westbrook. The Athletic: How come? Gilgeous-Alexander: Just ’cause of the energy he plays with. His competitiveness. I feel like it’ll be fun to go against him. It’ll spark me to play harder.”

Around the League: Top 5 rookie point guards in the 2018-19 season…. LiAngelo Ball reflects on not getting drafted…. Looking back on the hall of fame career of Ray Allen…. Latest Goran Dragic trade buzz…. JR Smith was charged for breaking a fan’s phone.