Make that 3-1 in Summer League play everybody. Are we going to get a trophy for this?
- I can’t say enough about Serge Ibaka (15 points on 5-8 shooting, two rebounds, two blocks). We knew he was athletic but he really runs the floor well. Russell Westbrook dropped a sweet assist on The Big Congo and Ibaka flushed it with authority without missing a step. He also had two monster rejections and showcased three or four sweet post moves, including a nice little baby hook in the third quarter. I really think Ibaka has a good shot at making the opening night roster. Vegas will be big for him, but I’m sure he’s really impressed Thunder management.
- Russell Westbrook had another fantastic game (19 points, nine assists) and one thing about his seven turnovers – I think you can realistically cut them in half. A very good number of them just weren’t his fault. Teammates weren’t anticipating a pass, dropped it or gave it away before they secured it. Russ also hit a pretty three in the third quarter. And if you noticed on it, he was ready to shoot when he caught it. His feet were totally set, his body squared and he went straight up with it. No wasted movement, just a pure stroke. If he hits that shot this year, he’ll score 20 a night, easily. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about Westbrook’s back-down, turnaround fadeaway jumper. That was saweet.
- Byron Nelson James B.J. Mullens had his best game of the week scoring 12 points in the first half and 18 for the game. He stepped back to near 3-point range and knocked down the shot. He played better post defense and hit the glass a lot better including an awesome put-back jam. Maybe in trying to start over with Byron, he’s decided to jump start his basketball career. And it appears to be working well so far.
- One other thing about Ibaka: He hedges really well on screens. He’s got quick feet and he’s so long that he can really cut off the ball-handler. His on-ball defense leaves a bit to be desired, but at 19-years-old, his ceiling is clearly very, very high.
- DeVon Hardin played a decent game in the post today. He posted more and showed off a couple of nice hooks. His game is clearly raw, but he’s got some ability. He was probably the best post defender OKC has on the Summer League roster and he’s a fairly physical rebounder (though according to the box score, he didn’t have any). No reason to give up on him.
- One interesting wrinkle today was James Harden running some point (and him also wearing No. 3 instead of 13). Harden played well (15 points, 5-8 shooting, three boards, three assists) and was the recipient and finisher of a great oop from Westbrook. As reader Greg said, “It’s funny how everyone says Harden isn’t athletic. I’ve seen him dunk more than anyone else this week.” Ain’t that the truth. This “he’s slow and unathletic” crap is going to go away really fast. He’s had some monster dunks this week. But my favorite play of the day was the PERFECT pick and roll between him and Ibaka. A thing of beauty.
- As anticipated, no D.J. White and no Shaun Livingston. Robert Vaden made zero impact taking just one shot in 14 mintues, scoring none, rebounding none and assisting none. Moses Ehambe would be proud.
- Speaking of, great news everybody! Moses Ehambe got in the game early in the first quarter, took a charge right away ended up with a line of eight minutes, two points and two rebounds. So officially Ehambe is in the 2009 Orlando Pro Summer League books. Rest easy Thunder fans. Rest easy.
All in all, a very tightly executed game by OKC today. The Thunder shot 60 percent and held NJ/Philly to just 37 percent from the floor. Serge Ibaka was outstanding, Westbrook had another terrific game, Byron Mullens had his best game and James Harden seriously looks like he’s been in the league for 10 years. Of course, playing the Scrapple made things easier, but let’s not think about that.
One more to go folks and it’s an early tip. The Thunder takes on Utah at 10 a.m. tomorrow.