The Oklahoman takes a look at the new “City Edition” Thunder alternates: “The Thunder’s final set of Nike uniforms for this season will go on sale Wednesday, and the team will debut them on the court Jan. 25. The “City” jerseys are a brand-new look for the Thunder in a dark gray tone with pops of color in orange and blue that evoke the team’s shield logo. The “OKC” and jersey number on the front are trimmed in a bright yellow.”
Russell Westbrook was named Western Conference Player of the Week: “Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Dec. 18-24, it was announced today by the National Basketball Association. Westbrook helped lead the Thunder to a perfect 4-0 week while posting averages of 29.8 points on .598 percent shooting (49-82 FGs) to go along with 9.0 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 2.50 steals in 34.5 minutes. Westbrook’s triple-double on Dec. 23 at Utah represented the 11th of the season (OKC 9-2 in those games) and the 90th of his career.”
Ben Carfado (ESPN) on Thunder/Rockets being the highest-rated Christmas game since 2003: “The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 112-107 victory over the Houston Rockets on ABC drew a 4.1 metered market rating, making it the highest-rated prime-time NBA Christmas broadcast since 2003.”
Fred Katz on how Andre Roberson is changing his playing style as the Thunder improves: “Roberson has thrown up only five 3-pointers during the Thunder’s 11-3 December. He took 28 during the 20 games preceding the drop. And it’s not just shooting tendencies around the arc which are changing for the 26-year-old.”
Christopher Reive (New Zealand Herald) on Steven Adams providing a lift for the Thunder: “Another double-double in a winning Oklahoma City Thunder performance confirms it – Steven Adams is as important to the NBA side as their ‘big three.’ The Kiwi big man posted 15 points with 10 rebounds over 38 minutes in the Thunder’s 112-107 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (NZ time), with the Oklahoma City side winning their fifth game on the trot. Since returning from a two-game absence due to concussion, Adams has picked up right where he left off in the post for the Thunder and the win over the Rockets – who at the time were leading the Western Conference – shows they’re capable of better than their 19-15 record suggests.”
Bryan Kalbrosky (USA Today) on Steven Adams’ elite offensive rebounding: “Steven Adams is the first player to average more than five offensive rebounds per game with less than ten total rebounds per game. Since 1993, there have been just four players (Elton Brand, Antawn Jamison, Chris Webber, Horace Grant) to average at least four offensive rebounds per game but ten or fewer total rebounds per game.”
Kelly Scaletta (Fan Rag) examines if the Thunder has found its inner contender: “Perhaps more significantly, their assist percentage is 52.7, indicating that they’re still relying too much on iso ball. The big three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook have used 797 of the Thunder’s true shooting attempts with just an aggregate 50.3 true shooting percentage combined. The trio is responsible for 118 of the team’s 200 turnovers. The rest of the Thunder, however, have a collective true shooting percentage of 58.4 percent, and that’s not entirely separate from the Big 3, who have combined for 205 of the team’s 290 assists in that span, with 66 of those assists being for 3s. In sum, the Big 3 have accounted for 476 points assisted, though 194 of those have come by them assisting one another. In all, the Thunder’s Big 3 have scored or assisted on 75 percent of the team’s total points in that span.”
Erik Horne looks at how Russell Westbrook can take the Thunder defense to the next level: “What happens when one of the league’s best athletes is focused defensively? What is the Thunder capable of when Westbrook is leading the defensive charge while surrounded by elite defenders in Adams, Andre Roberson and Paul George? What happens is the first half against the Celtics, the power-packed performance against the Warriors. Or the Thunder’s five-game winning streak in which Westbrook has been equally keyed in defensively as the NBA All-Defensive players flanking him on the wing. “Most of the time it starts with him,” Roberson said. “Him guarding point guards, being in pick and rolls most of the game. He sets the tone for how everybody else plays defense behind him.
Fox Sports previews tonight’s Thunder/Raptors match-up: “Thunder guard Andre Roberson did a solid job slowing down James Harden on Monday in Oklahoma City’s win over the Houston Rockets. On Wednesday night, Roberson will draw another tough assignment when he will be asked to control Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan. While Roberson has played high-level defense all season, his recent work on the other end is drawing the attention of Thunder coach Billy Donovan.”
Around the League: Gregg Popovich thinks you should donate money if you’re “rich as hell”…. Steph Curry could return to action by Friday…. The L2M report for Cavs/Warriors wasn’t as kind to KD as the referees were…. The Suns used an alley-oop and a little-known rule to beat the Grizzlies…. Why it’s time to take note of Donovan Mitchell.