Vivek Jacob, writing for Complex Canada, says that Shai-Glgeous Alexander is Canada’s next NBA superstar. “In some ways, it is ironic that the new flag bearer for the franchise is the polar opposite of his predecessor. Westbrook, ever-willing to colour outside the lines with everything from his athleticism to his fashion sense; Gilgeous-Alexander, looking to perfectly tread along the lines of his game day fits and abundant potential. But what he is helping extend from the previous era is winning with a blue-collar approach that leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of greatness. And it’s that effort to be the best he can be that he hopes propels young Canadians to believe their futures are in their hands.”
FiveThirtyEight analyzed Reddit activity for the NBA and for each time, and fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder have been far less active. “Meanwhile, fan bases for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors have been noticeably less active. One of those teams traded its two best players (Russell Westbrook and Paul George), while the other suffered long-term injuries to two of its stars (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) and lost another (Kevin Durant) to free agency.” The Thunder Reddit has faced the second largest decline compared to last season in activity, though, in opposition to last season, activity has been growing steadily as the season progresses.
Per Joe Mussatto (The Oklahoman), Hamidou Diallo, the reigning NBA dunk champion, wants to defend his crown if healthy enough to do so. “Hamidou Diallo soared over Shaquille O’Neal in the defining moment of the 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Diallo was crowned the champion, and it’s a title he’s willing to defend in February if healthy. ‘Of course,’ Diallo told The Oklahoman on Thursday. ‘If I’m healthy, 100 percent. I’m a competitor.'”
Chris Haynes (Yahoo Sports) reports that the Hawks are no longer purusing a trade for Andre Drummond but remain interested in Steven Adams. “Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams is also on the Hawks’ radar and talks could potentially pick up steam as the deadline looms, sources said.”
Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel are questionable for tonight’s game, and with no morning shoot-around today, it’s unlikely their status is updated until pre-game warm-ups.
As we reach the midpoint of the NBA season, Berry Trammel (The Oklahoman) dishes out grades for each of the Thunder’s players. Darius Bazley, Gallinari, SGA, Chris Paul, and Dennis Schroder all received A’s from Trammel.
Sam Quinn (CBS Sports) gave the Thunder an A grade for its season thus far. “One of the surprise stories in the NBA (depending on who you talk to), the Thunder are in solid playoff position despite losing two All-NBA players in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, as general manager Sam Presti has put on a clinic in how to re-tool on the fly. OKC is one of the hottest teams in the NBA at the midway point, winners of eight of their last 10 games with a record of 23-17.”
Rohan Nadkarni (SI.com) gave OKC an A- grade. “It’s not completely shocking the Thunder are playing this well. I wrote all the way back in July I expected a baseline level of competence from OKC, thanks in large part to the presence of Chris Paul. CP3 has delivered, while Denis Schroder has been a sparkplug off the bench and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has looked like a future All-Star. The question now is if OKC tries to remain competitive, or if Sam Presti will be compelled to move someone like Steven Adams in favor of a long-term piece. I hope the Thunder keep this team together. The city deserves a hard-playing squad after the mass exodus of stars over the last half of the decade. And OKC has been legitimately fun to watch after an early season lull. Teams like this one should be valued by the NBA. Not only do I hope the Thunder make some noise in the postseason, it would be good for the league if they’re able to put that rebuild off for as long as possible.”
Shaun Powell (NBA.com) issued his report cards, and Oklahoma City received a B+. “Is it too early to say the Thunder won the Russell Westbrook trade? Perhaps so, although right now they’re feeling good about the state of things in OKC. Not only do they own a treasure chest of first-round picks from Houston and the Clippers (from the Paul George deal), the idea of this being a rebuilding year was effectively flushed by Chris Paul. The veteran guard had every reason to pout and hatch an exit strategy from OKC once he arrived from Houston, and yet he’s been the exact opposite on every level. Not only is Paul playing well here in his twilight, he’s being a leader, good soldier and inspiration to the younger players on the roster. That’s especially true in regard to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a wonderful pickup from the Clippers in the George trade, who’s averaging nearly 20 ppg.”
Have your own opinion on the Thunder’s season so far, post your grades for the Thunder and its players in the comments below.