Thursday Bolts: 10.5.17

Erik Horne on if the Thunder needs a 15th man: “Three surefire rotation players didn’t play due to injury Tuesday night against the Rockets. The additions of Anthony and George were win-now moves, and Ferguson should be able to get more playing time with the G-League Oklahoma City Blue. But Donovan’s use of the two rookie wing players against Houston is, if anything, worth a follow. Hamilton, who had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes Tuesday, is particularly intriguing because of his two-way contract, the Thunder’s roster situation, and the dwindling need for a third point guard.”

The Thunder showed up on SI’s list of teams most likely to flop in 2017-18: “The Thunder’s depth remains thin, and this team is susceptible to major regression if Westbrook, who enjoyed perfect health last year, misses any length of time. Golden State, San Antonio and Houston all possess established frameworks that would keep them afloat during a major injury to one of their franchise guys. Oklahoma City, with new stars to acclimate and a bench full of no-namers, simply doesn’t.”

Brett Dawson on OKC’s hole at backup Center: “When Adams is on the bench, who’s manning the middle? It’s an unknown with additional intrigue this week, as the Thunder prepares for a Friday preseason game against the towering New Orleans Pelicans and a front line of All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins at center and Anthony Davis at power forward. OKC shored up its starting lineup – and sharpened its offense – with the Sept. 23 trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to town. But it required shipping Enes Kanter to the New York Knicks, and that left the Thunder without a clear-cut backup center.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) predicts Russell Westbrook will be the NBA’s third leading scorer: “What Russ won’t do is match his league-leading figure of 31.6 points per game from last year. Talent consolidation was the trend of the offseason, and the Thunder got in on the fad in a way that’ll cut into Westbrook’s point totals and overall responsibilities. That’s probably good for OKC, as Westbrook’s stratospheric usage rate of 41.7 percent simply couldn’t continue. Even athletes like him (to the extent there have ever been any) can’t do that much indefinitely.”

SLAM Magazine has Paul George at #9 on its NBA player rankings: “He may no longer be the first option, or on many nights, even the second option on offense. But as the ideal two-way player who can be an elite perimeter defender, an offensive threat, and effect the game without the ball in his hands, George could have the Thunder soaring this season.”

Westbrook is getting his own line of TUMI luggage: “The TUMI x Westbrook collection is made up of an International Carry-on, Double Expansion Travel Satchel, both the Morrison and Warren Backpacks, Jetsetter Tote, Hanging Travel Kit, and the Westbrook Dangler. Each piece within the collection features Westbrook’s personal mantra, “Why Not?” providing a reminder of empowerment and perseverance.”

Marc Berman (NY Post) on Doug McDermott potentially filling Melo’s shoes in NYC: “If Doug McDermott becomes Carmelo Anthony’s replacement as the Knicks’ starting small forward, Enes Kanter said he thinks fans will be surprised at the fireworks. After all, McDermott’s college nickname was “Dougie McBuckets.’’ Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek already has taken a shine to the former Creighton superstar, who Kanter believes is as accurate from beyond the 3-point line as anyone in the NBA.”

Kevin Pelton & Chris Herring (ESPN) do a mock draft for the All-Star Game: “To show what the first NBA All-Star playground-style player draft might look like, Kevin Pelton supplied the projected 12-man All-Star rosters for each conference, and will serve as captain “Stephen Curry” for this draft, with Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight.com/ESPN.com playing the role of LeBron James and making the first overall pick.”

Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood is back: “After a summer full of wins, Sam Presti got the biggest win of the offseason when Russ signed the super max extension which will assure that Westbrook is a Thunder lifer. We’ll cover that as well as Paul George, Carmelo, the Blue and White scrimmage and much more. Our special guest this week is Adam Joseph, runner of 16WinsARing.”