J.A. Adande of ESPN.com on the current state of the NBA: “The NBA used to feel like a show on HBO or AMC; now it’s more like standard network fare. The on-court product is actually as watchable as ever, with talented and likable players throughout the league. It’s the broader story, the larger meaning that’s been lost. The games will be shown in high definition, on demand and on a variety of platforms. Only, in a twist on the Gil Scott-Heron song, the televised will not be revolution.”
Ethan Sherwood Strauss of TrueHoop: “What’s funny about Harden’s reputational ascendance is that it’s difficult to prove he got any better between last season and this season. His Win Shares per 48 minutes declined, and his moderate boost in PER can be ascribed to more shots taken. Under greater defensive scrutiny, his true shooting dipped a whole six percentage points. On many defensive possessions, the closest thing to Harden moving toward an assignment was his beard’s slow growth in that general direction. This isn’t at all to say Harden had a bad season; he was a free throw machine whose overall success was instrumental in wooing Dwight Howard from Los Angeles. It’s just that the extra praise had more to do with Harden’s increased floor time and opportunity than his improvement as a player. Before, Harden was underrated, his super-efficient production obscured by far fewer minutes and touches than a star of his caliber usually receives.”
Darnell Mayberry: “Still, you had to think the Thunder would get off to a better start than this. I mean, 1-0 is a dang good start and, at the end of the night, is all that truly matters. But who among us can claim the Thunder looked and played like it had an entire preseason to prepare for life without Russell Westbrook? That was the most disturbing thing. Sure, a win is a win. But this looked more like a Game 6 that never came against the Grizzlies rather than a Game 1 that was supposed to signal a fresh start.”
John Hoover of The Tulsa World: “In his absence, Jackson gets the point guard minutes. The third-year pro out of Boston College will have to play a lot while Westbrook sits, and that’ll be important when Westbrook returns because Jackson will inherit Kevin Martin’s sixth-man role. Brooks downplayed the sixth-man role, saying it could be someone different every night and everyone on the bench needs to be able to contribute. But it’s also clear that Brooks doesn’t take for granted a good sixth man. Not after the contributions Martin and James Harden made. Jackson needs to elevate his game and take on the responsibility after he’s done filling in for Westbrook.”
Berry Tramel on last night: “Interesting plus/minus. Perkins and Thabo each had +9. I didn’t see that coming from Perk, even after watching the game. But Thabo? He was OKC’s second-best player, and I have no idea who would be third. Sefolosha played 31:25, and until Westbrook returns, Thabo’s playing time is going to have to go up. Sefolosha had 14 points, four rebounds, two steals and 6-of-11 shooting (in a game in which his teammates went 27 of 70). We sometimes forget about Sefolosha’s scoring potential, but maybe Thabo will provide routine scoring punch in Westbrook’s absence. Or maybe even in Westbrook’s presence. If Thabo averages 10 points a game (and does it the way he does everything else, efficiently), all of a sudden the Kevin Martin void looms less large.”
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