The Thunder may have faltered in their first preseason game out of the gates on the scoreboard but in reality, they’re winners. Oklahoma City played well without the likes of Paul George and some guy name Russell Westbrook. What might be the wildest thing is Andre Drummond, the Pistons’ center, played 34 minutes. In a pointless game. That doesn’t matter.
Anyway, let’s break down three quick things about the Thunder’s first preseason game
These two have good chemistry already. Adams, due to a lack of help, really rolled with the second string a lot last season. This season, with Nerlens Noel helping, that could and should change. The two international bros found their spots early and often. It’s really was Schröder replacing Westbrook in the deadly PnR that did the Pistons in. Sure, you can’t run it for 48 minutes but in select spots the two really found a good play off one another and made the Pistons pay more than Dwayne Casey would want to admit.
Now, this could come in handy if Adams is in there with the second team or if Schröder is running a two-point guard system with Westbrook. That allows Westbrook to work off the ball and the Thunder all of a sudden have huge mismatches all over the court. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Thunder made their free throws
The last two seasons, the Oklahoma City Thunder have ranked 29th and 26th the last two seasons from the free throw line. They shot an average of 73.2 percent. It really became a point where the Thunder lost a handful of games they probably should’ve won because they didn’t convert their free throw opportunities. That said, it seemed a little different on Wednesday night. Oklahoma CIty made 22-of-28 from the line (78.6 percent). That sounds average but would’ve ranked the Thunder sixth in the NBA last season.
Westbrook struggled from the line last season. However, Schröder, yes there his name again, is a career 83 percent free throw shooter. The freshly traded Thunder point man went 9-of-9 from the free throw line and that’s why there’s such an elevated free throw percentage. The rest of the team went 13-of-18 (72.2 percent). There is still work to be had.
Who is Nerlens Noel going to be?
His numbers may be skewed as he guarded Drummond for basically three quarters. That’s fine. What Noel did all night was defend and play basketball. I’ll take his effort and output 60 out of 82 games a year. That type of output will get him a nice contract. Drummond, being one of the better big men in the league, needed to eat up against scrubs to get his gaudy numbers.
Noel shot alright, defended fine and did what was asked of him. In a new system and a new city, the big man is trying to figure things out. In his first game with the Thunder, I give him a B. The criticism is soft as the first game of the season is in the books. As the rotation smooths out and the starters are back. I’m interested in what role Noel is going to craft for himself. We don’t need another Dakari Johnson.
Oklahoma City takes on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night in Minnesota. The Thunder and T-Wolves tip off at 7 p.m. It’ll be only broadcasted live on okcthunder.com. We’ll have your complete game coverage on Social media.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!