Wednesday Bolts: 10.4.17

Royce Young & Tim MacMahon recap last night’s preseason opener: “A fresh era officially started for three of the NBA’s stars on Tuesday night at Tulsa’s BOK Center, as Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Chris Paul made their preseason debuts for their new teams following offseason trades. Those three were the headliners in the Houston Rockets’ 104-97 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul had an 11-point, seven-assist, no-turnover performance in his first NBA game action with co-star James Harden. Anthony (19 points) and George (15 points) will have to wait to play with reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook, who sat out as he recovers from a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left knee.”

Erik Horne discusses the Thunder’s loss to Houston: “The Thunder went into Tuesday’s preseason opener without Russell Westbrook, Patrick Patterson and Alex Abrines, and the trio’s status for Friday against New Orleans is undetermined. The absences gave Donovan the chance to try rookies early. Terrance Ferguson was in the first substitution with Jerami Grant. Daniel Hamilton started the second quarter in place of Raymond Felton. Since Westbrook, the orchestrator, remains sidelined, the picture of Thunder basketball and how the rotations will look is incomplete.”

Steven Adams says he’s OK after last night’s injury scare: “The Thunder center took a tumble and felt a tweak after the Rockets’ James Harden pulled him to the court in the third quarter of Houston’s 104-97 preseason win against Oklahoma City Tuesday night at the BOK Center. “I’ll be fine, mate,” Adams said. “They got me on some drugs.” Harden was hit with a flagrant-1 foul on the play, which happened with 8:58 to play in the third quarter, when Adams took a pass from Andre Roberson near the basket.”

Carmelo Anthony/Paul George highlights against Houston:

Zach Lowe picks OKC as the second most League Pass-worthy team in the NBA: “Watching three superstars split one ball is always fascinating. Billy Donovan can fiddle with lineups that include all three, with just one of Andre Roberson and Steven Adams — groups so heavy on shooting, they will be impossible to guard. Patrick Patterson can replace Adams at center in switchy alignments. The Thunder should at least try going ultra-big, with George as the nominal shooting guard in lineups featuring the big three and the Patterson-Adams front-line.”

Bill Haisten (Tulsa World) on how recent moves give the Thunder leverage/fans reason to believe: “Preceding Westbrook’s signing of a five-year contract extension was the Sept. 23 acquisition of 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks and the June acquisition of four-time All-Star Paul George from the Indiana Pacers. When the Thunder played its 2016 preseason game in Tulsa last year, players, team officials and fans were only a few weeks removed from having gotten their hearts crushed by Durant’s transfer to Golden State. On Tuesday, there was an altogether different vibe at the BOK Center. Westbrook didn’t play because of a sore knee, but he was in the gym. Anthony and George did play, and a sellout crowd of 17,733 got a glimpse of how the Thunder might look when the roster is fully loaded and chemistry is forged.”

The 2017-18 GM Survey: “The (NBA) GMs responded to 47 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 GMs.”

The NBA All-Star Game is dramatically changing its format: “The NBA All-Star Game is switching formats this season, as two captains will select the teams without regard to which conferences the players play in, the league announced Tuesday. The players who win the fan vote from each conference will be the captains. There will still be 12 players selected from each conference for the game in Los Angeles on Feb. 18. Five players from each conference will be selected as starters, with the fan vote being worth 50 percent, player vote worth 25 percent and media vote worth 25 percent. Seven reserves for each team will be picked by each conference’s head coaches.”

Kevin Pelton (ESPN) analyzes the All-Star changes: “The NBA airballed an opportunity to also ensure the best 24 players will be on the court at this season’s All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Though players won’t represent their conferences any more, the league still plans to choose 12 players from the East and 12 from the West. With the West as dominant as ever in terms of star talent, now was the right time — past time, really — to change that part of the selection process.”