The GM survey is out and Russell Westbrook is second in predicted MVP behind LeBron James
and after that, there’s not a lot going on for OKC. Still ranks in the top five for homecourt, Westbrook is considered fastest player with the ball and most athletic, but after spending a lot of seasons near the top of most of most those categories, they’re not often mentioned.
Fred Katz: “Kanter had one of his fanciest defensive moves of the preseason when he forced a travel on Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic by figuratively “pulling the chair” against one of the NBA’s largest men. As Nurkic tried to back him down, Kanter dipped out of the way. The Denver big lost his balance. Steps. Thunder ball. ‘The guys like that, really strong, they all wanna bang and stuff, wanna use their physicality,’ Kanter said. ‘You just have to be smart. Just pull the chair.’ The play was a perfect example of a guy taking a move someone did to him, and turning it around on the opposition. About two hours before pulling the chair on Nurkic, Thunder assistant Andrew Jones used the exact same trick on Kanter during pregame warmups.”
Charles Barkley: “Kevin Durant is not a villain. He’s making himself a villain [by taking shots at OKC].”
Erik Horne: “Instead of playing instinctively – like he did Sunday on his dunk or on a floater over a 6-foot-10 defender to beat the first-quarter buzzer – Oladipo said in the previous three games he was thinking too much. Thinking about where his shots were going to come from, about what he needed to do better defensively. Donovan said Westbrook encouraging Oladipo to be aggressive, all the way back to summer workouts, has helped the introspective guard.”
James Herbert of CBSSports.com on OKC’s ceiling: “Westbrook wins MVP, Oladipo and Adams earn All-Star consideration, Enes Kanter improves defensively, Kyle Singler and Andre Roberson shoot consistently well and Domantas Sabonis and Cameron Payne prove to be the steals of the past two drafts. The Thunder exceed expectations, fighting for home-court advantage in the West despite Durant’s defection. This makes them an attractive destination for Blake Griffin next summer.”
Kelly Dwyer of BDL: “The shooting, in Oklahoma City, is abysmal. The team’s coaching staff will have to let Oladipo and Abrines play through mistakes, while submitting to the idea that Anthony Morrow will offer slightly more good than bad after his entire term is settled. Ersan Ilyasova can’t have one of his random off years, and Andre Roberson can’t be made to look like a nightly millstone. Somewhat frightening is the idea of Westbrook working, as he might see it, by his lonesome. In college and in the pros Westbrook has always had either a star to pair with (even if the two were hardly passing to each other), or the knowledge that an aching star teammate was soon set to return. This will be a grind. And no amount of winsome “best” faces and media hype in giddy anticipation of his Thunderbolt Year will take away from the massive, potentially enervating role Russell Westbrook is about to assume.”