Thursday Bolts: 10.12.17

Brett Dawson on OKC’s roster taking shape after minor moves yesterday: “The Thunder on Wednesday waived guards Bryce Alford and Markel Brown and forward Rashawn Thomas, none of whom made an appearance in the team’s four preseason games…. The Thunder signed two more players on Wednesday – center Yannis Morin and forward Chris Wright – who also are expected to play for the Blue.”

Fred Katz on Billy Donovan’s preseason lineups: “There are few other coaches who enjoy toying with different rotations and lineups as much as Donovan does. Give him 82 games, and he will hand back a Jackson Pollock of fivesomes a season later. He compiles sample sizes on sample sizes and then picks from there.  That’s his process when results matter. Just think of the way he fiddles when they don’t. And with Tuesday’s preseason, 96-86 victory at the Denver Nuggets providing one final evening for Donovan when no outcome, no lineup mattered at all, the Thunder coach made sure to take advantage. Lineup changes with no consequences: It’s Donovan’s happy place. ”

SI spoke to an anonymous NBA scout who is lukewarm on this Thunder team: “I’m lukewarm about them even after the Carmelo Anthony trade. Last year they were three pieces away. Now they’re still one piece away. Paul George and Anthony will make Russell Westbrook’s life easier, but they still need one more two-way wing to match up with the best teams.”

Erik Horne on Paul George bridging the first and second units: “Some of George’s most comfortable moments on offense, however, have come when the offense has run primarily through him. In games against Houston and New Orleans, Westbrook and Anthony didn’t start the third quarter, and George found his shooting stroke. Donovan changed up the substitution pattern on Tuesday, bringing George out with 6 minutes to go in the first quarter, then starting him in the second quarter with Alex Abrines, Hamilton, Grant and Huestis. Then, when the fourth quarter came, George was the lone starter on the court again.”

Ben Rohrback (Yahoo Sports) ranks the impact of All-Stars that changed locations this summer: “7. Carmelo Anthony: The Thunder are banking on him becoming more Olympics Melo than Blackhole Melo. He has created the Hoodie Melo persona this summer, so who knows how effective he will be in Oklahoma City, or if he’ll play any defense, but it’s all gravy when he comes for the price of Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott… 1. Paul George: He went toe-to-toe with LeBron in back-to-back Eastern Conference finals appearances before breaking his leg, and he’s actually been more productive and efficient in the two years since his return. It’s just that he’s been playing for a team that relied heavily on Monta Ellis and Lance Stephenson in the playoffs.”

ESPN predicts Kawhi to win MVP, Russ to come in fifth: “Historically speaking, the MVP has followed a fairly reliable formula. Being great isn’t good enough. Age, wins and teammates matter. And so do some not-so-obvious indicators. So who has the best chance to grab the hardware this season?”

Details on the Jordan XXXII “WHY NOT” PE: “The “Why Not?” Air Jordan 32 will arrive in an unmistakable OKC-inspired colorway, including a photo blue Flyknit upper and contrasting orange accents. Westbrook’s personal motto is printed on the backs of the tongues and is visible through the translucent outsoles. Look for Westbrook’s PE to release on Wednesday, Nov. 22 for $185 at nike.com and Jordan Brand retailers.”

Andrew Sharp & Ben Golliver (SI) on which Thunder star faces the most pressure: “The reason why I am watching is the boom or bust potential. I’m there if it works and I’m there if it is a train wreck. The stakes are very high here. Paul George’s future is kind of hanging in the balance. Russell Westbrook’s reputation as a player is hanging in the balance, Carmelo Anthony’s is hanging in the balance and also I think an underrated storyline is Billy Donovan’s reputation as a coach is hanging in the balance.”

ESPN’s really awkward NBA yearbook: “All the unbelievable moves might have left you feeling like you need a program to get reacquainted with the NBA world order. We have something even better: an NBA Yearbook. Get ready to pick your favorite background (sorry, no laser option) and cite your favorite quote as we turn NBA Media Day into School Photo Day for the Most Likely to Succeed, the Class Clown and everyone in between.”

Ben Stiller: Temporary Thunder fan