Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) on the Thunder’s chance for growth: “Maybe it’s not as clear as the cartoon lightbulb suddenly flashing on above a players’ head, or a magical moment where everything goes perfectly, but there are small moments in each Thunder practice where it is clear that the team is developing a deeper understanding of what they must do on the floor. With three full days of practice in between home games, the Thunder is in the midst of a wonderful opportunity to make strides forward. As much as possible, Head Coach Billy Donovan is trying to put the players in real, game-like situations to stretch and push the limits of the team’s reactions to on-court stresses. “When you’re playing in games and things are happening so quickly on any giving possession, there’s things that they’ve got to go through to understand better,” Donovan explained. “Getting an opportunity to work on things throughout practice that translate to the game is important,” point guard Russell Westbrook added.”
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on Alex Abrines missing yesterday’s Thunder practice: “In its first full practice session since losing to Sacramento on Sunday, the Thunder was without Alex Abrines. Abrines didn’t practice on Tuesday, according to Thunder coach Billy Donovan. Abrines was removed from the Thunder’s 131-120 loss to Sacramento in the second quarter after suffering a blow to the head from Nerlens Noel. The Thunder initially called Abrines’ injury a mouth contusion on Sunday, but Donovan said Abrines was hit in the eye by Noel on the play. “I think coming back here today, he is just still not feeling great,” Donovan said.”
Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on the Thunder not being concerned with an 0-3 start: “It’s unclear if Donovan’s choosing to go with a best-case-scenario interpretation of OKC’s third straight loss, or if he’s truly encouraged following a game where Russell Westbrook returned to the lineup and finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, yet his team trailed virtually the entire game and lost by 11 points. Even if it’s the latter, there’s no getting past the fact there are some trends that can’t continue if the Thunder plan to turn their season around any time soon. Three games in and the Thunder rank dead last in field goal percentage at 39 percent, dead last in in 3-point shooting at 23.9 percent, next to last at the free-throw line at 66.7 percent and 22nd in the league in 2-point shooting at 41.8 percent. Then there’s “effective shooting percentage,” which takes into account a made 3-point attempt being worth 50 percent more than a made 2. In that, OKC’s not only dead last at 43.4 percent, but way back of 29th-place Orlando’s 46.9 percent (to say nothing of league-leading New Orleans’ 62.7 percent). On the bright side, perhaps — or just the opposite — there is one shooting category in which the Thunder lead the league: attempts.”
Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) on why it might be time to start Hamidou Diallo: “Diallo would bring the same athleticism to the starting lineup that Donovan is seeking from Ferguson and he would essentially be able to provide the same level of defense, as well. With Westbrook back in the lineup, the team may only need Diallo to step in and provide 10 to 12 points a night as Westbrook and Paul George will continue to handle the bulk of the scoring duties. If the team were to make a change, Alex Abrines is another candidate that could start, but it may serve the team best to keep his shooting stroke in that second unit to help spread the floor. It is clear at this time, though, that Diallo is playing with the confidence that Donovan likely wants to see out of Ferguson and that may very well force the hand of Donovan to eventually make a switch.”
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Jerami Grant searching for ways to play to his strengths: “Grant has played everything from small forward, to power forward to center in his career. But as primarily a backup center last season, Grant was able to up his production to 8.4 points per game and 14.9 points per 36 minutes. The latter was a career-high mark. At 6-foot-8, the small-ball center was versatile on defense, and he took 66.7 percent of his shots from less than 10 feet from the basket. But this year, Nerlens Noel’s addition to Oklahoma City has shifted Grant to the four. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after practice Tuesday that he thought there were opportunities for Grant to play to his strengths in his new role. “Just watching some film and talking to him, there’s too much of him spacing where he can be cutting and diving and moving and setting screens and doing a little bit more,” Donovan said. “When he does that, it gets his playmaking into it. He’s a really unselfish player and a really good passer. The more he’s on the move, the better it is for our team.”
Khari Arnold (NBA.com) with takeaways from the 2018-19 NBA Roster Survey: “Each season, the league uses its findings to determine who is the “average” NBA player, with Thunder small forward Andre Roberson fitting the bill this season. The average player in the league is 26 years old, 6-foot-7, 219.05 pounds and has 4.8 seasons worth of NBA experience. Roberson, 26, is listed at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds and has played five seasons in the league. He awaits the start to his sixth season as he rehabs from patellar tendon surgery.”
Around the League: Blake Griffin dropped a 50-piece on the Sixers last night…. Joel Embiid believes he owns real estate in Andre Drummond’s head…. Rajon Rondo really doesn’t like CP3…. NBA execs are already focused on the 2019 free agency period…. Scoring is at an all-time high to start this NBA season…. Indiana will open a Larry Bird museum.