Nick Gallo recaps last night’s preseason finale victory over the Bucks: “The Thunder mostly rode the lead garnered in the second quarter all the way through the fourth, but the slippage in the third quarter and some hot shooting by Milwaukee turned this one into a tie ball game at the end of regulation, as Milwaukee’s Tim Frazier buried a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left. In overtime, the Thunder’s reserves, including a trio of training camp invitees Bryce Alford, Abdul Gaddy and KJ McDaniels, along with Nerlens Noel and two-way player Deonte Burton, all scratched and clawed. With under a minute to go and the game tied at 112, Burton, who won the Korean League MVP last season, nailed back-to-back three-pointers from the wing to seal the victory.”
Erik Horne on Hamidou Diallo’s big night: “More impressive than Diallo’s 3-of-5 from 3-point range in a preseason game is the youngster’s feel. Diallo took a dribble handoff from Dennis Schroder, drawing Paul George’s defensive assignment on a drive. It created enough space for Diallo to pass off to George for a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer. Diallo finished with four assists. Yet, when Schroder came off a screen and hit Diallo on the left wing, Diallo fired up quickly again for an air ball … which fell right into George’s hands for a reverse layup. Even the misfires are turning out OK. And even when something eventually goes wrong for Diallo — something will; he’s a rookie — it looks like him lasting until the 45th pick in the draft wasn’t right.”
One time for Deonte Burton: 11 points in OT to seal the Thunder’s victory.
Zach Lowe (ESPN) on the Thunder’s place among NBA tiers: Rock Solid Playoff Teams Tier 1: Keep an eye on Oklahoma City early. The Thunder remain light on outside shooting. Without Andre Roberson, they are thin on reliable rotation players. Without Roberson, they can’t snap into screaming spasms of defensive frenzy that change games in a blur. But as long as Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams are healthy, the apex Thunder will be a pain. This season should be smoother than last season’s bizarre up-and-down campaign.”
The AP on Steven Adams among the centers trying to revitalize the position: “Steven Adams is invaluable to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s also a reminder: Big men in the NBA are still vital. The imposing 7-foot center from New Zealand is helping change the recent narrative that NBA centers are an endangered species, something that — based on spending and drafting this summer — is evidently not the case. The perimeter-oriented and defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors landed All-Star DeMarcus Cousins this summer, albeit on a $5.3 million bargain deal. NBA teams went big at this year’s 2018 draft, with Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley going No. 1 and No. 2 and centers taking four of the first seven spots. And this summer, $285 million worth of contracts went to three centers — Nikola Jokic, Clint Capela and Jusuf Nurkic. Not bad for often underappreciated guys.”
Ian Levy (FanSided) previews the Thunder’s 2018-19 season: “Alex Abrines (primarily a wing) and Patrick Patterson (primarily a forward) were both had a small tendency to defend players who were bigger than the players who defended them. Grant was the opposite, usually defending smaller players than those who defended him. Terrance Ferguson didn’t make the shortlist here but he was ranked 31st, another wing who was comfortable defending bigger players than those who defended him. Admittedly, these estimates are not perfect and we’re talking about relatively small differences (about a quarter of a position). Still, the most important aspect of positional fluidity is the ability to force or exploit mismatches. The Thunder don’t necessarily stand out for a roster of positionless basketball players but they have clearly found a way to play around with roles at each end of the floor. For the Thunder to have a chance at unseating the Rockets or Warriors, their stars will need to be exceptional in a playoff series. But if their role players can turn things back on the opponents and exploit or counteract mismatches it could go a long way toward leveling the playing field.”
Jonathan Tjarks (Ringer) on Terrance Ferguson’s second season: “Oklahoma City isn’t close to full strength on the perimeter at the moment. Russell Westbrook is recovering from knee surgery, while Andre Roberson won’t be back from a torn patella tendon until at least December. Ferguson, the no. 21 overall pick in last year’s draft, would have had a minor role in the rotation if both were healthy. Now he gets a chance to show what he can do in a bigger one… Ferguson is longer (6-foot-7 and 190 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan) and more athletic than Alex Abrines, and he has a better looking outside shot than Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. He has no problem letting it fly from deep, averaging 5.7 3-point attempts per 36 minutes of playing time as a rookie, although he only shot 33.3 percent. On paper, Ferguson is exactly the type of wing OKC has always needed to complement Westbrook. He’ll raise their ceiling if he can translate those skills to the court.”
Around the League: The Suns are leaning toward making James Jones their new GM…. Klay Thompson thinks it’s “cool” LeBron is on the Lakers…. How NBA rule changes could benefit the Warriors…. Jimmy Butler Watch…. How the Nuggets are trying to survive the NBA’s PnR blitz…. Is KD gone from the Bay after this season?