4 Thoughts (12-17-18) Thunder 121, Bulls 96

1. Picking up the option on Donovan’s contract was a no-brainer. Even if you aren’t fully sold on him I’m not sure what argument you would use to justify not retaining him. Obviously there is a lot of season left, but the decision needed to be made aniuhd it was the right one. For almost two years the Thunder operated under a cloud of uncertainty; the fate of the entire direction of the organization hanging in the balance. Donovan rode that out and it wasn’t always smooth. But he clearly did something right as both Russ and PG were willing to commit knowing Donovan would be their coach. And now that things are finally settled and the direction set, it is equally clear that the players are now playing the preferred style of the coach. Thunder are tenacious defensively and they play very hard whistle to whistle. Donovan is hardly flawless, but the fit appears to be right. There would have been no real logically reason to decline the option and it only would have allowed another cloud to form had they let it go. Easy move. Smart move. 

2. Thunder avenged their worst loss of the year tonight. They did exactly what they should have done and turned up a really bad Bulls team (who did win their last game at San Antonio by the way). PG got things rolling early and I thought Russ looked a little sharper tonight. They all looked like they were having fun and that wound up being about as easy of a night as you will ever see in the NBA. Most interesting thing was the “fight.” I think the Thunder might wind up leading the league in skirmishes when it is all said and done. It makes sense. Russ is a walking skirmish. He starts plenty on his own with virtually no instigation (like we saw Friday in Denver). And due to his style and his rep he will also attract others looking to skirmish. Adams can create skirmishes despite his “aw shucks” demeanor because he is a brute monster in the paint. He is also pretty “sneaky” and finds ways to get subtlety over on his opponents. He can be frustrating I’m sure. Then overall the team is very physical and athletic. There will be contact when you play the Thunder. Contact often leads to…skirmishes. Tonight I couldn’t tell if Lopez was really mad about something or if he just wanted to get out early. Don’t think I can blame him.

3. As Diallo flashes his insane athleticism and ability to finish you will continue to hear calls for him to get more minutes; or possibly even start. I think he should stay right where he is. He is so young and still quite raw. He is having success in his current role and I see no reason to put more on his plate at this juncture. He is currently in a pretty low stress position and it is allowing him to grow up at a slower pace. As a fan I’d like to see a bit more because he truly is electrifying to watch. But small doses works for me right now.

4. Solid reply to the back to back losses. Thunder have established themselves as pretty dominant at home. They’ve gone 12-1 since the 0-2 start. And more often than not it’s been easy. They hit the road for the majority of the remainder of the month, starting Wednesday at Sacramento. This is an interesting game because the Thunder are already 0-2 against the Kings and in both losses fell victim to allowing Sacramento to dictate pace and style of play. Circling back to Thought #1, this is a spot where you’d like to the coach recognize what’s going on and come out with either a new plan or better execution of a previous plan. Extending Donovan was the easy choice; and now it’s time to continue to earn it.

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