Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com on Reggie Jackson: “But Jackson is not as productive as Harden was at this age and likely wouldn’t garner an eight-figure salary in 2015-16. That math changes if Jackson develops a 3-point shot. He already is an elite penetrator and finisher at the level of Harden, but the Boston College product has lacked a complementary jumper. However, that might be a thing of the past. In 24 games this season, Jackson already has made more midrange jumpers than he did in 70 games last season. Jackson converted 35.4 of his shots in that area last season and is now up to 47.2 percent. His 3-point shot efficiency also has risen from an awful 23.1 percent last season to 29.3 percent. If Jackson continues to develop his perimeter game, the Sixth Man of the Year Award will be his. And then some.”
Ben Golliver of SI.com on the Noah-Perkins incident: “Perkins’ approach here is, to the surprise of absolutely no one, strict and old school. That the Thunder won going away, that the game wasn’t against a rival, that the injury-ravaged Bulls have virtually no shot of facing the Thunder in the 2014 Finals, and that we’re in the middle of December (rather than the playoffs) likely didn’t factor into Perkins’ mental calculus. Similarly, he probably didn’t care that Sefolosha and Noah spent a year-plus as Bulls teammates before the Swiss guard was traded to the Thunder in 2009. This is a black and white issue for some players, especially veterans on title-contending teams, and Perkins likely felt an obligation to uphold the code, for better or worse. That no one spoke up to offer a “chill out, dude” when Perkins assumed the role of club bouncer says it all.”
Darnell Mayberry: “The thing that confused me most about Ibaka’s night was his inability to stay in front of Noah and Gibson. They consistently beat him off the dribble. With Ibaka’s athleticism, there’s no way that should happen. Making matters worse, Ibaka let his defense affect his offense. After scoring 11 first-quarter points at Denver, Ibaka’s first field goal didn’t come until 9:24 remained in the third quarter.”
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider: “You’ve probably already figured out where this is headed. If the Thunder can’t find a taker for Perkins, then OKC must be willing to go over the tax line in order to upgrade the center position. While I’d feel better about their postseason chances with a more proven veteran scorer on the second unit, I’m starting to believe that the combination of Jackson and Lamb is adequate. The Thunder might also be able to hide Perkins come playoff time. While he’s still a fixture in the starting lineup, he rarely plays even 20 minutes in a game, and the Thunder’s overall margins are strong. However, it’s still a gamble, especially when the differences between teams at the top of the league are so narrow. The bottom line is that you have a $9 million player providing well under replacement-level value. If Presti can turn those dollars into one or even two productive veterans, the Thunder could emerge as the clear front-runners in this season’s title chase.”
Everything feels good when they’re winning, but I’ve had a lot of people repeat this same thing to me over and over: This is their favorite Thunder team yet. And I agree. That warm, fuzzy feeling is returning and expectations be damned, these guys are just a joy. The locker room chemistry is as good as I’ve ever seen it and there aren’t any agendas or any tension.