Andy Bailey (Bleacher Report) asks whether Oscar Robertson or Russell Westbrook is the better triple-doubler: “While many point guards like to lull defenses to sleep, Russ is more about the knockout. His relentless aggression will test the league’s best-conditioned athletes. And the way those straight-line drives draw defenders at the rim has opened up scores of drop-off and kick-out assists to the likes of Steven Adams, Paul George and Kevin Durant. Many of those dimes almost seem to come out of necessity, though. That may not be a fair characterization for someone who’s averaged double figures in assists each of the last three seasons, but a lot of the passes look like a last resort. Even if that’s true, his average of 8.4 dimes over the last 11 years is still plenty impressive. Throughout the league, though, it trails Steve Nash (9.9), Chris Paul (9.7), Rajon Rondo (9.4) and John Wall (9.2). Westbrook is fifth. And again, The Big O was a decisive first.
Get your official Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wallpaper from the Thunder:
Paris Lawson (NBA.com) spotlights some charitable work done for an OKC resident in need: “Thunder players Terrance Ferguson and Justin Patton offered some extra help with repairs thanks to their towering height and far-reaching wingspans. They painted part of the roof and installed lightbulbs and windows — things that would require a ladder for the average-sized person but came easily for the two of them. The anticipation mounted when the time had finally come for Mrs. Peggy to see her home for the first time in a week.”
Albert Dadson (Fansided) says the Thunder finally have broad shooting firepower on the roster, but suggests a provocative way to leverage it: “After making only 40 4-pointers in his rookie year Terrance Ferguson was able to make 106 3-pointers in his sophomore year. After making only 32 3s the year before Jerami Grant was able to make 115 3s the next year. That was a career-high and smashed his previous career-high of 49. If the Thunder want to have a lineup that compliments Chris Paul the most they have to look at starting Terrance Ferguson. While that may not happen because Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the future and needs to start they could pair Ferguson up with Danilo Gallinari and have shooters surrounding Chris Paul.”
A GM tells Sean Deveney (heavy.) that the trade market could be pretty lively this season. They say this most years, but given this summer and the reasons cited in the piece, I’m inclined to believe it: “If you enjoyed the twist and turns that came with the very busy NBA free-agency period last summer, then buckle up. The trade market means more could be more on the way. Chief among those reasons is a sense that next spring’s Larry O’Brien trophy is up for grabs, a feeling that took hold during last year’s Finals when Kevin Durant of the Warriors ruptured his Achilles tendon and crystallized when Golden State lost to Toronto, then saw Durant sign with the Nets as a free agent. There are six teams in each conference whose front offices and ownership expect to make a run at the Finals this year.”
Ben Rubin (The Stepien) pokes at some conventional stats you might see used to evaluate draft prospects in the years ahead: “There is perhaps no stat, perhaps besides turnover percentage, more widely misread as to what it is actually saying than assist percentage. As such, it is not surprising that, at least as far as single stats go, assist percentage is of the most highly correlated with draft busts and mistakes. That’s not to say that there are no good players with high assist percentages. Trae Young ran a very high assist percentage, and future solid role players like Fred VanVleet and Alex Caruso did as well. However, it’s not difficult to scour the rest of this list of players with an above 5 BPM and above 1 steal percentage mark and think “boy, a lot of these guys did not work out.”
Ian Begley (SNY) says there are still Nets players hoping to see Carmelo Anthony added to Brooklyn’s roster this season: “The Nets’ interest in signing him is unknown, but the idea that several Nets players continue to strongly support the idea is noteworthy. The Athletic reported in late August that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were pushing for the club to sign Anthony, who worked out with the Nets in an informal setting in Los Angeles earlier in the offseason. During those workouts, someone in the gym said the 35-year-old Anthony was one of the best players on the court and was well-conditioned.” My assumption is that Durant’s interest in Melo is overstated, since he handpicked DeAndre Jordan on a too-lucrative deal and could presumably get Anthony on the team in a minimum slot if he really wanted to get pushy about it.
An ESPN panel puts Durant not first, not second, but third, in their ranking of definitive players from the decade: “There isn’t a comparison in league history for a player of Durant’s caliber choosing to join a team that was already better than the rest of the competition. Durant, Curry, Thompson and Green combined to give the Warriors four of the top 20 players in the NBA — a quartet of stars that simply overwhelmed the opposition en route to a pair of titles even while rarely looking fully engaged. They confidently trailed at halftime of Games 6 and 7 of the 2018 Western Conference finals before dispatching the Houston Rockets. They felt inevitable until wear, tear and injuries caught up to them this past season. Beyond the accomplishments in Golden State — and his many accolades in OKC at the beginning of the decade — consider the ripple effects from KD’s stunning move.”
Steph Curry appeared on The Jump, giving his thoughts on Kevin Durant’s post-Warriors hot takes and pledging to rescue Team USA from their misery in the Olympics:
As much as I want America to dominate again in global play, I wouldn’t mind too bad if the flood of commitment were just a long con to troll Jerry Colangelo. Dan Volpone (Liberty Ballers) has an equally convoluted troll for the eldest ‘Gelo here: “(Danny) Ainge, the brilliant Boston Celtics GM, recently invented the philosophy that having great players is actually bad. He has built a winning team choosing good players like Jaylen Brown over great players like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. Sometimes he even chooses bad players over great players, like when he signed Enes Kanter instead of trading for Anthony Davis. With other options off the table, this was something Jerry could try. He got together a team of Sixers rivals. He mixed in some good players, like the Celtics’ quartet of Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. Staying true to Ainge’s values, he even put one bad player, Donovan Mitchell, in the starting lineup. If this team succeeded, the Sixers would look outmatched by their adversaries on the court and in the front office. The tournament started out a little shaky when Team USA needed free throw luck and overtime just to get past 76ers’ 15th man Furkan Korkmaz and Turkey. Then things fell apart altogether when Jerry’s group got collectively deuced on by Frank Ntilikina in a loss to France. A second loss to Serbia led to a seventh-place finish, worst in Team USA history.”