Thursday Bolts: 8.31.17

Brett Dawson on why OKC won’t make any moves on today’s stretch deadline: “The Thunder has 16 players under contract. It needs to cut that number to 15 by its Oct. 19 season opener. But don’t expect Oklahoma City to cut anyone loose on Thursday, the last day an NBA team can waive a player and use the league’s stretch provision to pay his guaranteed salary over a period of years. Waiver speculation has centered on forward Kyle Singler, whose playing time and production have dwindled since OKC traded for him during the 2014-15 season. It’s unlikely, though, that the Thunder will waive Singler or anyone else by Thursday’s stretch deadline.”

GQ introduces Russell Westbrook — The Style Dad: “Why not? Those might be Russell Westbrook’s favorite words, appended to most of the all-world guard’s Instagram posts. They explain his explosive on-court style (Why not slalom through five defenders?), and his off-court style, too. Why not wear an ab-bearing t-shirt? Why not wear overalls? Why not wear a pair of Nike Air Monarch IVs, the Swoosh’s famously ugly dad sneakers?

B/R makes record predictions against Vegas odds: “Even without factoring in the upside that stems from potential internal improvement, the Thunder already should’ve been expected to win 51 games. And this was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson—a power forward who fits perfectly with the other expected starting pieces—to a bargain of a deal. Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a difficult task as the Thunder try to weave in new players seamlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show throughout his MVP-winning campaign, they now get to place so much more talent around him. Expect big things.”

Kevin Pelton explains why ESPN projects the Thunder to finish worse than Vegas does: “At barely three wins, this qualifies as a modest disagreement of opinion between the RPM projections and Westgate’s line. Either way, the Thunder should be in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race. I suspect the discrepancy that does exist stems largely from the fact that Oklahoma City won four more games in 2016-17 than would be typical for a team with a plus-0.8 differential. As compared to the 47 games the Thunder actually won, finishing around 48 or 49 after adding Paul George would be surprising and disappointing. If you start with Oklahoma City as performing like a 43-win team, that level of improvement is far more reasonable.”

Ben Gibson (8 Points, 9 Seconds) says the Pacers did NOT give away Paul George: “Maybe Durant was partying too much after winning the title and missed all that, but it was obvious the market for Paul George wasn’t as robust as it should have been. I get it is easy to pile on the Pacers right now, and in a lot of ways, rightly so, but this narrative of Kevin Pritchard giving away PG is flawed, to say the least. The NBA is currently investigating whether the Lakers tampered with Paul George, which should tell you that something was up with PG’s value around the NBA. The offers we saw for Paul George generally consisted of late first-round picks and decent to good rotation players, but hardly any one close to making an All-Star Game. The entire NBA knows George is likely a one-year rental, and that was clear once his camp all but announced that as fact.”

Cameron Payne is having foot surgery again: “Chicago Bulls guard Cameron Payne will undergo surgery on his right foot and is expected to be sidelined until late November, league sources told The Vertical. The Bulls acquired Payne at the trade deadline last season as a potential point guard of the future, and Payne had started the summer positively in his workout regimen and participated in summer league before re-aggravating the foot. Payne has dealt with right foot injuries at various points of his two-year NBA career.”

Yaron Weitzman looks at what went wrong for Sebastian Telfair: “The decision, according to a former Thunder assistant coach, was basketball-related (OKC was outscored by 12.3 points per 100 possessions with Telfair on the court, per NBA.com). The Thunder had no issues with Telfair—they just didn’t think he was very good. The rest of the league seemed to agree; Telfair hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since.”

A list of every major publicly-available NBA stats site: “What follows is a collection of many of the best publicly available online resources for NBA statistics, models, tools and other minutiae. We’ve attempted to provide a relatively comprehensive look at the features of each site, without being overbearing to the point of absurdity. With apologies to many individuals who post fantastic numerical work on a variety of personal sites or blogs, we’ve stuck to many of the more comprehensive sites currently out there.”

Paul George is getting ready for the season: Even threw in a Thunder Up!