Adrian Wojnarowski on Rob McClanaghan, who trains KD, Westbrook and others: “In trying times for the NBA’s biggest basketball stars, at their most crucial crossroads, it is uncanny how they keep coming back with McClanaghan for the crux of the work growing their talents. Nothing about McClanaghan’s background suggested he could become the most renowned ally of the sport’s biggest stars, but slowly, surely, the kid raised hard by the beach towns of Rhode Island has done it. From a consistent presence in players’ lives to a solitary companion in rehab processes to the fixer of lost souls and games, McClanaghan has transformed himself into one of the most influential figures in pro basketball. When the next wave of college stars declare for the 2014 NBA draft, it’s almost assured agents will hire McClanaghan to oversee the preparation process for several of them.”
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on defense: “When opponents have the ball, Durant and Jackson have been, by the numbers, a top-10 NBA defensive duo. And it’s not a simple case of the Thunder being great at defense. It’s worth considering it might be something about this combination. One of the best five-man defensive units in the NBA (minimum 50 minutes played) is Durant and Jackson with Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. That lineup is one of the Thunder’s most used and has an incredible defensive rating of 78.3. At the moment, if you substitute Westbrook in for Jackson, you have one of the Thunder’s most familiar lineups, and one that gives up 103.3 points. The Westbrook lineup faces the best opponents and would be expected to perform a little worse. But 25 points per 100 possessions is a massive differencIt’s also noteworthy that lots of Thunder players have great defensive ratings when they’re on the floor. Jackson, though, is the standout for whom, thus far, sitting has led the team to play much worse defense. Could be a fluke. Worth keeping an eye on. Related: Put defense and offense together, and Durant and Jackson are, at the moment, literally the best-performing duo in the whole NBA.”
The caveat to the lineup Abbott mentioned there is, it saw most of its minutes together against the Jazz in that blowout a few weeks ago where Westbrook sat. Still a great defensive rating, but definitely influenced by that game.
Ben Golliver of SI.com names his All-Atrocious team: “Consider: OKC’s first unit includes two bona fide superstars (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) and a star-type (Serge Ibaka), and yet the starting five posts a net rating of minus-10.2, a terrible output that you would expect to see from a conference bottom-feeder. Surprise, surprise: Perkins’ minus-.5 net rating is among the Thunder’s worst, and OKC enjoys a plus-10.4 net rating when Perkins is off the court. The All-Atrocious Team can’t ignore the clear-cut difference Perkins is making. Although Perkins has been regularly raised as a possible amnesty candidate, general manager Sam Presti has resisted cutting ties, even though the club is on the hook for $9 million this year and $9.7 million next year. If the 20-year-old Adams does emerge more quickly than initially expected, Perkins will most likely serve out the duration of his contract as a cap-clogger and towel-waver. If not, things will stay ugly, as any hope for a career rebirth has dried up over the last year or two.”
Tweet from Zach Lowe: “OKC: 11-1 in last 12, seven wins by double digits, lone loss @ POR on back-to-back. Just a reminder, they’re still awesome.”
Anthony Slater: “No matter what he does, Andre Roberson is not long for the rotation. Thabo Sefolosha’s return will push him back to the end of the bench and likely some more time in Tulsa. But from what we’ve seen, there’s plenty to be excited about in the future. He’s an absolute bulldog on defense, as advertised, with the athletic ability and desire to hound his man from baseline to baseline. At worst, he’s going to be a change-of-pace defensive specialist somewhere in the NBA. But if he even develops a semi-consistent 3-point shot from the corner — he hit the first of his career from deep tonight — Roberson has the chance to carve out a solid role in this league. Because he already does so many of the coveted little things well.”