Jekyll and Hyde
It’s probably been mentioned 37 times in this column but the Thunder is as volatile as the price of Bitcoin. In true Thunder fashion, after dropping three straight games, OKC then notched three straight wins (albeit against teams with losing records).
The harsh reality is that while the party line was the team just needed time to jell, it’s becoming apparent the Thunder is just going to be a Jekyll and Hyde team. Yes, the Thunder will almost certainly make the playoffs, but things like home court (in the first round) are at risk. Unless the Thunder can figure out how to stay focused, the season will be far shorter than we all expected.
No All-Star Starters
The NBA announced the starters for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game on Thursday night. For the second year in a row, no Thunder player will be a starter. Russell Westbrook was the closest to making it, finishing third among backcourt players in the final tally behind Stephen Curry and James Harden. Among frontcourt players, Paul George finished fifth, buoyed by fan voting. Carmelo Anthony finished ninth. While Westbrook is a near lock to make it as a reserve, George is a strong possibility, with Anthony a long shot.
Steven Adams had a strong performance, finishing eleventh in the frontcourt, ahead of names like Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Andrew Wiggins and Cole Aldrich.
Though the Thunder has been wildly inconsistent overall, the team has generally done well on the offensive glass. Helped by below-average shooting (OKC ranks 20th in field goal percentage), the Thunder leads the league in offensive rebounds per game. Against the Lakers (21 OREB) and Hornets (19 OREB), OKC turned in two of its three best offensive rebounding performances. Steven Adams leads the team individually, grabbing more than 5 per game, best in the NBA.
Since the Thunder struggles from the field, there are plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds.
Here is your reminder that Russell Westbrook has a fashion sense that is definitely all his own.
The last time Terrance Ferguson played the Lakers, he torched them for 24 points. On Wednesday night, Ferguson scored just three points on 1/5 shooting. After notching that 24 point game, hope abounded for the rookie but that was clearly an anomaly, as Ferguson has otherwise struggled this season. In fact, in 30 appearances, he has converted more than one basket just four times. He’s shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 26 percent from three-point range on the season
That being said, his length and athleticism should give hope that he could turn into a respectable defender. Take a look at the savvy help defense by Ferguson. The Kings’ DeAaron Fox delivers a nice pocket pass to a cutting Kosta Koufos, but Ferguson makes a great read from the weak side and swats away what would’ve been an easy bucket.
Play of the Week
Westbrook makes a heads up defensive play, Adams collects the loose ball, and after the pass from Adams, Westbrook delivers a strike to Paul George who punctuates the possession.
And one more makes seven…
The biggest Thunder news all week resulted from a tweet by Lakers’ radio man Mychal Thompson.
Oklahomans immediately rushed to reply to defend the city, asserting that the day (Tuesday), the time (late at night), the weather (it was cold), and the location (downtown) all played a role in the absence of foot traffic. And while all those points are absolutely right, I’m going to ask a controversial question on this — what’s the big deal?
Oklahoma City, as one of the league’s smallest markets, has always had an inferiority complex with the rest of the NBA. But why can’t OKC embrace what it is, rather than being concerned about what it is not? Oklahoma City is not a bustling metropolis. It isn’t teeming with foot traffic late on a weeknight like New York. Games are not attended by masses of celebrities like in Los Angeles. There simply isn’t as much going on in OKC as there is in the league’s biggest markets. And that’s fine. Oklahoma City is different than virtually every other NBA city. It’s small and it’s passionate about one professional franchise.
So big deal there weren’t a hundred people roaming the sidewalks by the Skirvin on a Tuesday, because the very next night, there were thousands of people all over downtown, attending the biggest show in town.