Wednesday Bolts: 8.9.17

A columnist in Mexico City is reporting OKC will play the Brooklyn Nets in Mexico next season: “With the NBA schedule starting to leak out piecemeal, a columnist for Mexico City’s El Universal reports the Nets will play the Thunder and Heat on Thursday, December 7, and Saturday, December 9, in the Mexican capital. Paulina Benavente tweeted out the report, complete with what looks like an official NBA graphic, on Tuesday. It’s the first word of the dates that Brooklyn will play south of the border. Also, while early reports had the Nets playing the Thunder and Spurs, Benavente says the competition will be OKC and Miami. The games will be played at Mexico City’s Ciudad Mexico Arena.”

The NBA is making an effort to build more rest into the 2017-18 schedule: “With an expanded calendar as part of its new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA has taken the most aggressive measures to date to build rest into its schedule. In a memo given to teams this week, the league outlined how it hopes to reduce the stresses of travel and give players a chance to recover more than in the past. This is a proactive measure aimed at both player safety and to reduce the number of games in which teams rest healthy players.”

Matt Moore of CBS Sports pitches the idea of Spurs/Thunder on opening night and Celtics/Thunder on Christmas: “MVP candidate Leonard vs. Russell Westbrook, reigning MVP. Two familiar foes and their games are always good. Throw in the arrival of Paul George and it’s a really strong nightcap…. Westbrook went ballistic vs. the Celtics last season, and with Hayward and George now in the mix, it’s a great afternoon matinee after the main event.”

NBA.com has OKC fifth in early power rankings: “George might complement Russell Westbrook better than you think. Last season, George had an effective field goal percentage of 60.1 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, a mark better than that of anybody who took at least 100 catch-and-shoot jumpers for the Thunder, who ranked 28th in catch-and-shoot effective field goal percentage. With Westbrook dominating the ball (he had the highest usage rate in the 21 years for which we have usage rate and OKC ranked last in passes per possession), a guy who can shoot can provide a big boost for an offense that ranked 17th. More important may be George giving that offense a lift when Westbrook sits. The Thunder scored 10.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with the MVP on the bench than they did when he was on the floor.”

ESPN has Westbrook finishing sixth in next season’s MVP voting: “Turning the chapter on Mr. Triple-Double’s historic campaign, you’ll quietly stumble onto the fact that the reigning MVP is already entering his 10th season. Just as Chris Paul will ease the burden for James Harden in Houston, Paul George’s arrival in Oklahoma City should help temper Westbrook’s one-man band tendencies that led him to utterly annihilate the usage percentage record last season.”

Tramel, Horne & Dawson with a Thunder roundtable: Discussing win projections, Semaj Christon’s future and Russell Westbrook’s contract extension.

James Holas on what Paul George does for the Thunder’s relevance: “Last year George averaged 23.7 points per game while draining 39.3% of his 6.6 three point attempts a night, finishing as one of five players in league history to cross these thresholds in a season (the others? Steph Curry, Ray Allen, Peja  Stojakovic, and Danny Granger). Along with stretch four Patrick Patterson (signed as a free agent), Oklahoma City now has a chance to turn a weakness, three point shooting (OKC was a paltry 26th in made threes and dead last in three point percentage), into a strength.”

Spencer Davies (Basketball Insiders) on why Billy Donovan is one of the three best coaches with less than three years experience: “Entering year three, Donovan gets another superstar to insert into his system alongside Westbrook. The Thunder acquired Paul George in a gutsy move without his commitment long-term in order to strike gold and compete with the powerhouses of the West. It’ll be intriguing to pay attention to the situation as Donovan tries to take a potential championship-caliber squad put together by Presti to the top. One thing’s for sure with Donovan—he’s not in over his head. He’s made for this.”

Sam Fortier on the man behind your favorite NBA jump shots: “Last season, one of his clients (Russell Westbrook) won Most Valuable Player. Another (Kevin Durant) won Finals MVP. A third (John Wall), who hired McClanaghan in 2012 after shooting a paltry 7.1 percent from beyond the arc in the previous season, hit a season-saving 3 in the 2017 Eastern Conference semifinals, using the retooled jump shot he and McClanaghan began developing that first summer.”

First look at The ‘Peake in NBA 2K18:

via @Steve_OS