1. Specific to this game, there is nothing to complain about. The Suns are a bottom tier NBA team. Without their best player (Devin Booker) they are almost certainly the worst team in the league. I like a couple of their young pieces and they have some vets (Chandler, Crawford, Ariza) to help stabilize things, but any way you slice it, sans Booker, they stink. So with the Thunder coming in at 0-4 there was absolutely no excuse to not come out completely focused and put the game away early. The Thunder did just that… there was no doubt by midway through the second quarter that the Thunder were in complete control and OKC did not let up or try to coast in the second half. The final few garbage time minutes were ugly and made the final score look closer than it was, but it was trash time and not anything to nit-pick. I heap no praise on OKC for this effort and I also have nothing to complain about. They had a job to do tonight, they did it, case closed.
2. While no one should be overreacting to this win on it’s own, I do think it’s OK to at least think “hmmmmm….” when it comes to Nerlens Noel. No matter the situation, putting up 20 points and 15 rebounds in an NBA game is impressive. What’s more, he just looks like the right fit for the way the Thunder want to play. He doesn’t possess the brute force of Adams (who does?) but he is uber-athletic and can probably involve himself in the offense a tad more naturally. He and Schroeder already have a good rapport on the pick and roll and it doesn’t look like there is any lob pass he can’t catch. He’s also a natural shot-blocker. Tonight, the Thunder didn’t miss a beat with Adams out with the calf injury. The challenge moving forward for Donovan will be figuring out how best to deploy his new weapon. Having Adams and Noel on the floor at the same time is an interesting thought, but could also be a real failure– two true centers with neither of them possessing any sort of stretch game isn’t something you see often on an NBA floor– and with the current league trends the Thunder would probably be the only team doing that. More likely, Donovan will need to feel out the rotation game by game and adjust their minutes accordingly based on who makes more sense in a given match-up. Initially, I thought Noel would be a really nice back-up center. Now, I’m thinking he can be more than that.
3. Hopefully a lesson learned for Diallo today. Not gonna lie– have developed a bit of an early bias towards Diallo and what he brings to the table. I am already all set for him to replace TFerg in the starting line up or at least supplant many of his minutes. But I’m glad the Thunder didn’t let him dress tonight. If he missed the walk through, he needed to be called out and a bit embarrassed by it. I haven’t heard the “why” yet but my guess is he’s 19 and was probably just being stupid or irresponsible and forgot to set his alarm or something. Always uncomfortable to be the new guy and do something not flattering in front of your peers. In this case I’m sure it’s made worse by the fact that he is ten years younger than the leaders on the team. I imagine they don’t take kindly to stuff like that. Probably not a real fun day for the rookie. He also missed a golden opportunity to get some extended minutes on a night where the Thunder rolled with the bench longer than normal due to the lopsided score. Hopefully this is the last we hear of anything silly like this because that kid has a ton of skill and I’m anxious to see more of him.
4. I moved on from this game about 3 seconds after it ended and hopefully the team will do the same. The 0-4 hole is a terrible way to start and there are true areas of concern that arose from those four losses, but it is also just four games and they will be quickly forgotten if the Thunder can string some wins together. Clippers in town Tuesday and we already owe them for that loss in Los Angeles the second game of the season. Clips pose a much tougher test than we saw from Phoenix tonight; it’s uncomfortable to have these games this early that feel “must win” but if the Thunder want to avoid a truly disastrous start, well then they…must win.
5. The lack of free throw efficiency is alarming. It’s not even the fact they’re missing. They’re missing at an exceptional rate. Their 65.3 percent is the worst free throw percentage in the NBA since the 2011-12 season when Orlando shot 66 percent. Oklahoma City has no one to blame for themselves. It’s unacceptable. If Oklahoma City is going to be a playoff team, let alone a championship caliber team, they’ll have to make their free throws. At this rate, the Thunder are gonna shoot themselves out of the playoffs.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!