Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report on Serge Ibaka: “The Thunder’s interest in making Ibaka more of a scorer came toward the end of last season, when Westbrook first hurt his right knee, tearing the meniscus in the first round of the playoffs. Also, power forward Zach Randolph dominated during the Western Conference semifinals, as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Thunder 4-1, and Ibaka didn’t do as much offensively in the series. So entering the summer, Abunassar said he was told by GM Sam Presti and head coach Scott Brooks to work extensively with Ibaka on expanding his offensive repertoire, and Ibaka couldn’t wait to continue that development.”
Stein has OKC No. 2 in power rankings: “OKC’s next two games aren’t exactly gimmes, with Cleveland and desperate Memphis in town, but folks will inevitably wonder if it would’ve been better to wait one more week before throwing Russ Westbrook back in there given the degree of difficulty in his first two games back (Heat and Clips).”
NBA.com dropped OKC to No. 4: “Not surprisingly, Russell Westbrook was rusty after almost two months off, shooting 7-for-25 in his first two games back. More disappointing was the Thunder defense, which allowed the Heat and Clippers (two top-three offenses) to shoot 53 percent and score 114 points per 100 possessions. OKC doesn’t play another top-10 offensive team until they visit the Suns next Thursday.”
The Thunder reportedly offered a first rounder for Iman Shumpert, but were turned down. Plus a few thoughts on that.
Berry Tramel: “The Thunder small lineup — which basically means any unit that uses Durant as a power forward — outscored the Clippers 64-50. Some of that was against small-ball LA lineups, but some of it was against the Clippers’ primary lineup that includes Jordan and Blake Griffin. If you subtract the Durant/B Team lineup totals from the full small-ball lineup totals, the Thunder small lineup was outscored 35-36 by the Clippers. Interesting, don’t you think? It’s quite possible that the Thunder small lineup could be used even more frequently than Brooks is using. You can’t ask Durant to guard Zach Randolph, but Jordan, he can check.”
Anthony Slater on Westbrook: “Three times, Westbrook rose up for one of those patented 15-foot bankers. Each time, he missed badly on the angle. Against the Clippers, he shot 3-of-12. In two games, he’s 7-of-25 overall, 5-of-13 at the rim (with two of the makes wide open fastbreak dunks) and 0-of-5 from mid-range. But the Thunder refuses to panic. And the two losses have been far more about defensive lapses, where Westbrook is far from the biggest culprit. Athletically, in flashes, he looks like the same Westbrook. And in the grand scheme, that’s the real concern.”