Monday Bolts: 10.1.18

Nick Gallo recaps yesterday’s Blue-&-White scrimmage: “Russell Westbrook (knee), Andre Roberson (knee), Alex Abrines (back spasms) and Abdul Nader (knee soreness) did not participate in the scrimmage that accentuates U.S. Cellular Training camp. Second year guard Terrance Ferguson played just seven minutes before sitting out the rest of the scrimmage with a minor shoulder contusion. Still there was plenty to see, and to like, from the Thunder’s first public opportunity to get up and down the floor. Schröder led the White team’s starters and got off to a scintillating 7-of-7 shooting start from the field on his way to 22 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists. George was electric as well, scoring a game-high 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Adams chipped in 13 points, but the standout on Sunday afternoon was Patterson, who drained 5-of-6 three-point attempts on his way to 20 points. After missing nearly all of the summer of 2017 due to knee surgery, Patterson came into training camp this season completely healthy and it showed. His body looks muscular and his conditioning and rhythm were strong. It still remains to be seen who will start at power forward for the Thunder this year, but Patterson looked like a player who will certainly be playing an important role.”

More from the scrimmage:

Erik Horne on Patrick Patterson looking like a starter in the scrimmage: “Patterson was listed as playing 39 minutes on the unofficial stat sheet, but that wasn’t entirely accurate. The scrimmage ran 10-minute quarters for the first three periods, then switched to a running clock in the fourth. The point is Patterson played a lot, and that wasn’t possible last preseason. “It’s a night-and-day difference,” Patterson said. “I have a whole summer under my belt, a whole offseason. Last year, unfortunately I couldn’t have that.” If Thunder fans are to take anything from Sunday’s scrimmage, take Patterson having an expanded role on the team this season. Unofficially, Patterson had 20 points and six rebounds, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Numbers in preseason scrimmages are to be taken with a grain of salt. The teams were heavily lopsided to the White squad Patterson was on.”

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) on some grain-of-salt takeaways from yesterday’s scrimmage: “Dennis Schröder is settling in. Nobody on the Blue team could guard him, which is to be expected. But Schröder showed a good command of the pick and roll and strong chemistry with Adams and George in particular. Schröder finished with 22 points and 12 assists and helped set up George for a game-high 23 points and Adams for 13. He showed his typical deftness and getting into the paint, and hit both 3-pointers he attempted. And Schröder controlled an offense that mostly played with good pace, a training-camp talking point. “Russ is out right now. But when he comes back with me, Paul George, everybody who can run the floor very well, Steven Adams, I think we just got to push the pace,” Schröder said.”

Schroder highlights:

Brett Dawson on the Thunder hoping to minimize the impact of Westbrook’s training camp absence: “Nobody wants to hear that again, and there’s reason to believe the Thunder are better-equipped to absorb Westbrook’s absence. Start with George. He had an All-NBA season a year ago, but still took some time to settle in to playing off Westbrook. It’s “obvious,” Donovan said, that the ninth-year forward is “much, much more comfortable” in his second OKC go-round. Center Steven Adams is back for a sixth season, a fourth under Donovan. Felton and Patterson are veterans entering their second season in the franchise. And most of the new pieces are complementary, players who will find roles in the offense rather than dictate it. “(The veterans) don’t do mistakes,” said newcomer Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. “So you can’t do mistakes.” Last season, the Thunder was attempting to integrate two high-usage scorers in George and Anthony. Now George has settled in and Anthony has moved on. That should make Westbrook’s absence less impactful. There’s less blending to do this time around.”

John Schuhmann (NBA.com) on how the Thunder defense struggles without Andre Roberson: “Roberson is thought of as an offensive liability. In more than 1,000 minutes last season, he took just 39 shots from outside the restricted area and made just eight (21 percent) of the 39. (The season prior, he shot just 25 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, the third worst mark among 200 players who attempted at least 100.) But the Thunder were only slightly better when the other four starters shared the floor with somebody else than they were when Roberson was the fifth guy on the floor, in part because they didn’t depend on half-court offense as much as most teams did, with Roberson finding ways to contribute. Oklahoma City led the league on both points off turnovers (18.7 per game) and second-chance points (14.9 per game). That accounted for 31 percent, the league’s highest rate, of their scoring. Both George (2.0, 3.9) and Westbrook (1.8, 3.3) ranked in the top five in steals per game and in the top seven in deflections per game. But OKC’s opponent turnover rate was highest (18.9 per 100 possessions) with Roberson on the floor.”

Dan Favale (B/R) has Russell Westbrook third on his list of the NBA’s top point guards: “Let’s get one thing straight: Russell Westbrook is a superstar. He is what happens when an unstoppable force marries an immovable object and has a baby. He can carry suboptimal teams to respectability with his interminable will. His playmaking is not up to snuff with the Chris Pauls and LeBron Jameses, but his dribble-drive bursts send defenses into unmanageable havoc. Also: Triple-doubles are still pretty darn impressive. But we’d be remiss to gloss over Westbrook’s most glaring wart. And it ain’t his defense. His effort waxes and wanes. Whatever. That happens to high-usage lifelines. His penchant for errant off-the-dribble jumpers is more damning. Pull-up attempts have accounted for at least 47 percent of Westbrook’s total shots in every season since 2013-14. Only once, in 2013-14, has he notched an effective field-goal percentage north of 45 on these looks. Last year, as the league leader in pull-up attempts, he churned out a 39.4 effective field-goal percentage—a bottom-11 mark among 73 players to hoist at least 250 such shots.”

(Preseason) Basketball is officially back this week:

Around the League: LeBron made his Lakers debut yesterday…. The DeMar DeRozan era is underway in San Antonio…. The T-Wolves are facing rising pressure in the Jimmy Butler saga…. League Pass rankings part one…. Gordon Hayward’s wife says the NBA should watch out…. JR Smith will be required to cover his new tattoo during games.

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