There was some hope that Ben Simmons was going to shoot, like, one three in the game, thanks to some pre-game comments from Brett Brown. He didn’t. Shaker Samman (The Ringer) describes the disappointing nature of Simmons’ brilliance for the Sixers.
You know who is coming back to Oklahoma City on Thursday. Russell Westbrook acknowledges that it won’t just be another game for him:
Russell Westbrook on returning to Oklahoma City: “Obviously it’s going to be different. That place is always going to be special to me because I grew up there. I spent a big part of my career there, met a lot of people there… ” pic.twitter.com/zJuaDUFBFE— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) January 6, 2020
The latest Thinking Basketball video is dedicated to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s chances of becoming an All-Star (or better):
Erik Horne (The Athletic) chronicles the biggest three-point shots in Thunder history. “Durant thought he was going to get a crack at the last shot. He threw his arms up and took a step behind the 3-point line with the clock under 3 seconds. Wrong. Westbrook looked in his direction, but Barnes was cutting off his passing angle to Durant. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were closing on Durant quickly. Would Durant have enough time to shoot if Westbrook passed? Westbrook made the right decision. The pivot toward the baseline provided more room, even if the shooting space along the sideline was already tight with Barnes crowding Westbrook.”
Brad Botkin (CBS Sports) thinks the Sixers should trade for Chris Paul: “The Sixers don’t have their 2020 first-round pick, but they could offer their 2021 pick. In addition, Philly could offer Al Horford and, say, Mike Scott. Or perhaps a package revolving around Josh Richardson if OKC isn’t interested in Horford’s own long-term, big-money contract — even with the big incentive of the first-round pick attachment and the connection Billy Donovan has to Horford from his days coaching him at Florida. Either way, the Sixers should at least be making that call to OKC and offering everything and everyone not named Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons or Tobias Harris. Maybe you have to add in a Matisse Thybulle.”
Sam Presti would certainly like to have as much leverage as Botkin’s virtual negotiation suggests, but I’m not sure Philly’s front office will get quite so desperate unless one of their stars get really pushy behind the scenes.
Shane Young (Forbes) on Paul rehabbing his reputation in OKC: “After attempting 15.6 shots per 36 minutes in the 2017-18 season (his second-highest ever), he only took 14.0 last year. It was lower than majority of his runs with the Clippers. On top of having his worst true shooting percentage since 2006 (56.0%, still above league-average), Paul settled for too many triples and yielded an uncharacteristically high turnover rate. Back in Oklahoma City after becoming a real pioneer for the area’s basketball hopes in 2005-06, the cerebral 15-year point guard has transitioned into a different role. It might not be his preferred situation or roster construction. It might not be where he believes his talents are best utilized at age 34. But what it has become, however, is the perfect marriage for three important factors: instant competitiveness, future growth of the franchise, and repairing his individual reputation.”
Ja Morant (TBD) and Dwight Howard (accepted) have been reported as invitees for this year’s Dunk Contest. No word yet on whether Hamidou Diallo or other Thunder players are under consideration for the All-Star festivities.