The first preseason game is in the books, and Erik Horne (The Oklahoman) chronicles the Thunder youth movement: “(Shai) Gilgeous-Alexander continued his aggressive play from the Blue and White scrimmage, scoring a game-high 24 points while impacting the offense at every level. Gilgeous-Alexander also paced the Thunder in 3-pointers and free throws made in a team-high 26 minutes. (Darius) Bazley (nine points, five rebounds, two assists), (Terrance) Ferguson (12 points) and (Hamidou) Diallo (eight points, seven rebounds, two assists) all showed flashes off the bench.”
Highlights, shall we?
The joy and excitement around the spunky young squad last night is a good reminder of why Sam Presti has felt the need to be so explicit in his warnings of a looming rebuild. Fans seem ready for a blowup, but picking apart a fun, surprisingly competitive team will be a short-term bummer, if that’s how the season unfolds.
Speaking of, Grant Afseth (ClutchPoints) offers three teams he think could be in the hunt for Steven Adams: “It is no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers are arguably the top threat in the Eastern Conference heading into the upcoming season. With Joel Embiid leading the charge, the Boston Celtics need to have the necessary personnel to be able to slow him down a bit. As it currently stands, Embiid would probably eat the Celtics alive in a potential playoff series. Enes Kanter is widely known as a defensive liability and he would be tasked with trying to guard Embiid. Acquiring Adams would be a massive upgrade from Kanter for this matchup and in general.”
Ben Mertens (Welcom to Loud City) asks what the Thunder need to see in SGA’s game: “Analysis of a young guard can often seem to come down to one thing: can he shoot? OKC fans know better than anyone that a point guard can reach the highest echelons of the sport without being a good 3 point shooter, but Russell Westbrook was an exception to a lot of rules due to his otherworldly athletic gifts. Most guards will need a credible 3 pointer to succeed in this era of the NBA (a good 3 point shot keeps defenses honest when guarding the pick and roll and makes players a threat away from the ball) as basketball becomes more positionless, being an offball threat is increasingly important, even for nominal point guards. Is SGA a good shooter?”
Jacob Kniffen (@ThunderMob405) put together an in-depth season preview for HoopsHabit: “Trading Paul — which is still Oklahoma City’s desire — will unofficially mark the beginning of their rebuild. Presti will be picky, though. Over the past three months, he has collected 15 draft picks that will last him through 2026 (including four pick swaps), Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Even with that haul, Presti has no intention of giving up assets to trade away the point guard. If the team still had a massive luxury tax bill then that may be the case, but currently, they are less than one million away from ducking the tax altogether.”
Add Chris Paul to the list of players and coaches who hope you stop asking them to develop an opinion on the China situation:
Gregg Popovich managed to portray Adam Silver as a courageous leader by–you guessed it–contrasting Silver with the President (via Tim Reynolds, Associated Press). I have to say it: of the heavy hitters in NBA media, The Ringer (e.g. Brian Phillips, here) have been right on the money while others mostly scramble to either implicitly defend the league or avoid the topic altogether. Laura Wagner (Deadspin) has evidence of one such media enterprise, ESPN, letting their compromised business interests move from the back of their mind to the front via company memo.
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