1. Struggling a little bit to find four thoughts that differ from Monday because this game tonight was close to a carbon copy of the Phoenix game. First, it does need to be noted that the current Knicks (without Porzingis) are really bad. I actually think the fact that they came in with four wins is a bit of an over-achievement for them. New York has been woefully mismanaged for years and now they are suffering because the one true bright spot they have has been out for nearly a year now. They have a bunch of miscast parts mixed in with a few veterans like Kanter and Hardaway that can play, but are hardly cornerstone pieces. The Suns have a worse record than the Knicks, but Phoenix is absolutely a better (or at least more dangerous) team. Either way you can make the argument that the Suns and Knicks are the two worst teams currently in the NBA (Cavs raise their hand as well) and the Thunder just so happen to be playing the Suns twice and Knicks once this week. So I think it’s worth noting in a fairly loud manner that the Thunder are playing some truly crappy teams this week.
2. The above doesn’t necessarily take away from HOW the Thunder are playing though. The 25 point win tonight isn’t blowing me away as it stands on its own. What impresses me is watching the general identity of the team come together right in front of us. Last year, the Thunder laid a TON of eggs against bad teams. This year the entire approach is different. There was absolutely no messing around tonight. Thunder were ready to go from the get. Smart, efficient offense and tenacious, active D. It smothered the Knicks early and allowed OKC to cruise to an easy win. I’m happy PG chose to stay for all of the obvious reasons, but also relieved that everyone here is getting to see what a truly great player he is; it would have been a shame for him to just pass through town without Thunder fans ever getting to appreciate how he plays the game. While he is a laid back guy, he sets a tone defensively that forces his teammates to match. Sometimes he is too passive/unselfish on the other end, but he is a helluva playmaker as well. He’s been fantastic all season and tonight his all around contributions were easy to see. It seems he’s been around forever so it’s easy to forget that he is still just 28 years old and perhaps only entering the prime of his career right now.
3. The comparison and contrast with TFerg and Diallo is really interesting. They essentially play the same role/position. They are both getting an opportunity for significant minutes with Andre still out. And neither of them is old enough to order a beer at a bar yet. Early in the year I was a little critical of how Donovan was deploying them, but now I see why it’s smart— and why it’s working. TFerg is the more natural basketball player. He is a little more smooth, has a better looking shot, and has more experience having played two years professionally prior to this season. If you made me choose right now which player has more proverbial “upside” I’d reluctantly take TFerg. But Diallo is a live wire and there is something about that kid that just jumps out at you. He is a live wire. Whereas TFerg can disappear offensively, Diallo has yet to find a shot or drive he doesn’t like. One thing we know early in this season… when Diallo checks in, SOMETHING is going to happen. He might launch one into the stands or like we saw tonight, he might have the greatest looking missed windmill dunk ever. He might also score 7 points in like 30 seconds. He is a total whirlwind out there. I understand why Donovan is keeping him under wraps to a certain extent and keeping his minutes consistent. There is no need to rush him or get him TOO wound up at this juncture. Just to add a little extra spice into the mix, Deonte Burton has looked pretty darn good in his limited action as well. He’s the grey beard of the bunch at 24 with some G League and overseas experience under his belt already. But he’s also flashed enough that at least bears wanting to see more. Having youth to develop is never a bad thing—especially when they are already contributing. Not only will this help the team for obvious reasons, it also gives them more flexibility when discussing trades or being able to move people. Right now, the rotation and roles look spot on to me.
4. Easy win, easy week so far. Some bad luck with the Russ injury, but could be a blessing in disguise as he gets extra rest during a soft part of the schedule when his absence isn’t really hurting them in the W/L column. It is also allowing other guys more room to breathe and establish themselves. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing for Russ to sit and watch sometimes (especially considering there are quite a few new faces out there this year). The team is playing well and so many more guys are involved this year. I see it. Russ sees it. Everyone sees it. Things get a little tougher now… three game road trip ahead with first stop in Phoenix as mentioned previously. Suns beat the Spurs by 20 tonight; Phoenix isn’t good, they aren’t even average, but they also aren’t as bad as they’ve shown early this year. Thunder have also had recent issues playing in that building. I wouldn’t expect them to roll over especially after taking it on the chin twice in OKC already this year.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!