Tag - Kyle Singler

Thunder Grades: Jerami Grant

In the 2018 edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

Previous Grades: Billy Donovan, Terrance FergusonJosh Huestis and Alex Abrines

Next Up:

Jerami Grant

The Good

Grant definitely had his best season of his young career, improving his game immensely this season compared to the player he was last year in his first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jerami shot a career high percentage of 53.5 percent from the floor in his fifth NBA season. He played 20 minutes per game this season, and was easily Thunder’s best player off the bench, who should’ve probably played a lot more throughout the season especially in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz.

There were tons of great most improve player candidates in the NBA this season, but one that flew under the radar was Jerami Grant. His improvements from the player he was last year to this year were drastic and fun to see happen over the course of the season.

Grant brought solid rebounding to the Thunder, and with his athletic ability, he was super versatile defensively being able to guard any position on the floor. When Oklahoma City had to play small ball, Grant was a big part of that lineup, as he used his length and athleticism to disrupt the opponent’s small ball advantages.

Jerami also became way more crafty in being able to finish at the rim. Last season, his goal was to dunk anything that was possible to dunk, which ended in a lot of weird misses and lost scoring opportunities. This season, Grant used his length to finish acrobatic layups, and throw down vicious dunks at the right time.

With Grant being the most consistent role player for Oklahoma City, it will be interesting to see what happens in the offseason as Jerami is an unrestricted free agent. The Thunder do not have much money to play with, but it should be essential to try to get Grant back in a Thunder uniform next season.

The Bad

Even with all the great improvements Grant made this season, there is a couple things he could work on, especially offensively. With Grant being able to guard any position, it would be huge for him to be able to stretch the floor offensively with him improving his outside shooting.

Grant shot the three quite a bit, but only averaged to make 29 percent of his attempts, which was a drop-off from the year before. Though that percentage isn’t very good at all, Jerami did hit the corner three quite well, and that could be something he could build on.

If anything, Grant needs to learn to maybe avoid shooting threes unless he is in the corner, as he seems way more comfortable shooting those. With the way he’s able to get to the rim, he could become even more dangerous if he keeps developing his outside shot.

Another small improvement Jerami could make is in his free throw shooting. He shot only 67.5 percent from the charity stripe, which in itself was better than he was last season. Still, it would be nice for his game to at least be a 75  percent free throw shooter, as much as his game will get him to the free throw line.

Conclusion

Overall, Grant had a great individual season. He helped Oklahoma City in many ways, and it could have been pretty rough if it wasn’t for his improvements. The bench play was pretty poor overall, and without Grant it could have been absolutely awful.

“I think my confidence comes from my work. The more work I put in, the more confident I am on the court,” Grant said about his development. He also credited Thunder assistant coaches Mike Davis and Adrian Griffin to the improvements he made this season.

Like mentioned earlier, Grant is a free agent now so if he stays with the Thunder or ends up somewhere else, somebody will have a very good role player who shows every sign that he is only going to get better. It was unfortunate Oklahoma City couldn’t take advantage of his skillset against teams like Golden State or Houston in the playoffs.

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Thunder Grades: Alex Abrines

In the 2018 edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

Previous grades: Billy Donovan, Terrance Ferguson, Josh Huestis

Next up:

Alex Abrines

The Good

The 24-year old from Spain was in his second year in the NBA and averaged just about 15 minutes played per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Abrines was drafted in 2013, but made his rookie debut last season after playing professionally over in Spain. In his second year, there were some up and downs, along with some battles for Abrines trying to stay consistently in Billy Donovan’s rotation.

For the most part, Abrines got his fair share of playing time, as he appeared in 75 of the regular season games while starting in eight of those.

The best part about Alex, is himself being young but also knowing his role on this team. He knows he has to be a knock down shooter from three, while not being a total defensive liability on the other end. As Abrines came into his second year, it was apparent he would have to be a lot better defensively to get more playing time.

As the season went on and he battled to stay in Donovan’s rotation, Abrines made some serious progress with his defense. He became more aggressive, more physical and overall showed a lot of growth on the defensive end. By the tail end of the season, Alex was no longer a liability defensively, and actually had a few impressive steals and blocks on that end of the floor.

Abrines also showed no lack of confidence. There were stretches of games it felt like he was in a shooting slump and couldn’t get anything to fall from three. That didn’t stop Abrines from shooting threes, however. With the Thunder roster as is, Oklahoma City will need that confidence from Alex moving forward, as he progresses in his career and improves even more as a shooter.

Year 3 will be big for Abrines, as the Thunder will look for more consistent shooting from him, and maybe use him in the pick and roll more.

The Bad

As mentioned above, Abrines two biggest criticisms as a player this year were his defensive mishaps and inconsistency offensively.

Alex made quite the improvement defensively from year 1 to year 2, so that criticism will die down as his career moves forward, especially with the way he was playing defense to end the season. It felt like we were watching a totally different player at times, with how aggressive he was.

For the inconsistency offensively, it is what the major improvement needs to be going into year three of Abrines’ career.

In year two, Alex shot about the same percentages from the field and from three as he did in his rookie season. With how many ball dominant players Oklahoma City has, the Thunder absolutely need Abrines to be a consistent knock down shooter from deep, as it could help the offense in so many ways.

If Abrines can work on that consistency, while also improving his ball handling skills, Alex could find himself as an integral part of the Thunder’s rotation.

Conclusion 

There were definitely more positives than negatives this season for Alex, but there is a lot of improvements that Oklahoma City needs to see from him next season.

“Then to develop my offensive game. Not just being a shooter, just putting the ball on the floor, or playing the pick and roll, and being able to create for my teammates,” Abrines said in his exit interview about improving his game in the offseason.

As Abrines continues to show comfort in this system, his shooting and playmaking should only continue to improve. With the Thunder strapped for cash with Paul George either leaving or coming back, it is imperative they get their young guys like Abrines to grow each year and become better overall players.

 

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Thunder Grades: Josh Huestis

In the 2018 edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

Previous grades: Billy Donovan, Terrance Ferguson

Next up:

Josh Huestis

The Good

Huestis in his first season with quality minutes wasn’t what everyone expected. He has super shining moments where we sat back and were thinking “wow, this guy is going to make another team a good player on a decent contract.”

He appeared in 69 games, started in 10. He only averaged 2.3 points per game and it felt he was underutilized. Ignore his abhorrent shooting splits. It felt as when Huestis was in the game, the Thunder were feeling it. That’s why the eye test and numbers don’t always align with each other.

“It’s not linear,” Huestis said. “It’s going to be ups and downs and all that. Anybody who thinks that it’s always going to be sunshine is kind of crazy.”

Huestis defensive growth is a huge reason why the Thunder see something in the Stanford alumnus. His ability is almost like Andre Roberson but not as elite. He’s growing and you can tell he’s raw. He’s a dominate G League player and trying to move that offensive ability to the NBA game.

The Bad

It’s unknown what real value he brings to the Thunder. When you look at his shooting splits, he has some god awful numbers. To the point, you may not want someone on their team. As we said, difference between eye test and stat lines.

“If you compare this year to the last few years, it’s a huge step forward for me in terms of working my way into the rotation, being a guy that sees minutes in big games,” Huestis said. “That was a huge step forward.”

In his 10 starts, Huestis never scored more than six points in any of the starts. He shot only 31.5 percent from three in those starts. He provided little to no real offensive threat when on the court. It was to the point towards the end of the season, he was left open when he shot a three. Teams really weren’t worried about his deep threat.

The real difference is the 69 games played. HIs minutes per game were about the same as last season but his production was way down. There are numerous reasons why. The difference in minutes. Starting along three lethal scorers takes the ball out of his hands. Shooting inefficiencies are why as well. We’re not even talking about his 30 percent free throw percentage. It was almost more worth to foul him than to let him make a bucket.

The Conclusion

Huestis future probably isn’t in Oklahoma City. If any indication of how this season went, it’s probably for the best. He’s probably going to find the right scenario, like Jeremy Lamb did. Sometimes a change of scenery will be the best for any team and player. For Huestis, that may be what’s best.

“Obviously I’d like to stay in Oklahoma,” Huestis said. “It’s the only place I’ve known. I’ve made a home here, and I love the city, love the team, the organization”

We’ve mentioned a couple of times, numbers don’t tell the story. That’s the same with Huestis. He was able to make an imprint on the game with his movement and defensive play. Despite his offensive woes, he was a solid defender and that led to him finding playoff time against someone like Donovan Mitchell.

For whatever happens with Huestis, he’s a bit of an underachiever and that’s not really all his fault. Donovan’s weird issues with him and finding minutes for him is awkward. It’s like Huestis was forced upon and he just had to plug him in at his own cringing.

We hope Huestis has a solid career wherever he goes. He’s an intelligent player and an even nicer player.

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Thunder Grades: Terrance Ferguson

In the 2018 edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

Previous grades: Billy Donovan

Next up: Terrance Ferguson

Terrance Ferguson

The Good

The rookie taken 21st in the 2017 NBA Draft was expected to learn behind Victor Oladipo and Co. However, things change. Dipo’ was shipped off to Indiana and the void left at the two-spot forced Ferguson into some action that frankly he wasn’t ready for. However, he used his length and athleticism to try and carve out a role for himself. He didn’t play with the G League much, stuck with the senior team for all but three games.

“I think I had the best rookie season,” Ferguson said. “Just a lot of people around to help me with my game.”

There are some serious bright spots. He’s three-point barrage in a win over the Lakers in early January showcased what he could really do.

Coming from a prep academy that was purely about basketball and then going overseas, his adjustment at each increased level has been tough but Ferguson has taken it in stride.

“I think a lot of guys you look at, and you notice they have that ‘it’ factor,” Paul George said. “Terrance has that ‘it’ factor. As a young rookie in this league, he’s not afraid, he’s not scared of the moment. That stands out, and that goes a long ways.”

For all his of faults, Ferguson wasn’t afraid to get dirty. He’d do whatever was asked of him and did it without complaint. Instead of being a spot up shooter, Oklahoma City would benefit by using him slashing to the rim, ala Andre Roberson.

The Bad

Where to start? His experienced showed on both sides of the ball. He constantly was beat off the dribble and often left his teammates to cover his tracks, which left them in compromising positions. His shot didn’t look broken but absolutely was. Outside of the Lakers victory, Ferguson was really a non-factor. It’s really surprising, especially for being a first round selection.

“The biggest challenge? It was probably at the beginning of the season, just coming in, not playing a lot, and then having to go right into starting,” Ferguson said

Which is a bit surprising given his lack of play in the Australian league. You think he’d be used to it by now.

His splits were bad. He had some really rough defensive games and that led to him being yanked out the second he made a mistake, the Billy Donovan rookie special.

The inexperience at the professional level was obviously exacerbated this season as he was forced into starting games when he wasn’t ready. Ferguson could’ve used a year in the G League, honing his craft. Instead, he was forced to guard James Harden and getting cooked.

The Conclusion

Ferguson definitely had more negatives than positives this season. The kid is not even 20 years old yet. So, there’s plenty of room for growth and improvements. We’ve seen it in players like Reggie Jackson. Sometimes it takes a year or two to adjust to the speed and the NBA game.

“I just want to come back a totally different player, working on my skillset,” Ferguson said. ”This offseason I definitely want to be able to make my own shot.”

That’s what Oklahoma City will need from Ferguson if he’s going to fit into the rotation of a contending team. Presti’s draft picks lately haven’t been the best. Ferguson can buck the trend by improving and getting better, avoiding the Cameron Payne way of the NBA.

In his limited minutes, Ferguson had thunderous dunks and hit some big threes. He’s 6-7 and has some real length and that goes along way in this game. He’s shown the ability to hit threes and get to the rim. He needs to put on some muscle, weighing only 184 lbs, if he’s going to play the two and three positions.

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!

Thunder Grades: Billy Donovan

In the first edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

First up: Billy Donovan

Billy Donovan

This man here. For the most part, there isn’t really a middle ground on Donovan. You either think Donovan should be fired or you think he’s the right man for the job. However, in reality, it’s in the middle. Oklahoma City’s head man was dealt a weird hand. It started with a bunch of new players and then the loss of Andre Roberson forced him to pivot. He didn’t do that particularly well but many forget how well Oklahoma City was playing when Dre hit the court.

The Good

Donovan had to integrate Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Sure, Anthony said some choice words at his exit interview. However, let’s give both Donovan and Anthony credit, both did their parts in trying their best. It just wasn’t the right fit.

“Every year as a coach you’re always trying to evaluate areas where your team can get better and improve,” Donovan said. “I feel a strong sense of always wanting to improve and get better individually.”

The offense struggled for the first 20 games of the year and that goes on more of Russell Westbrook not doing Westbrook-like things than on Donovan. The defense remained on point until the loss of Roberson.

“We have a great group of guys that want to be successful that want to win and want to do the right things,” Westbrook said. “The biggest thing for us is being more and more consistent throughout the season. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”

Like Anthony trying to play the four and not complaining throughout the season, that’s a credit of two things: Donovan trying to appease his players and providing a good locker room chemistry that no one was publicly complaining.

The Bad

Many want to bash the offense but as we’ve covered it wasn’t that bad. The real negative was his rotations. Questionable decisions on keeping Anthony on the court when Jerami Grant was obviously the better choice. We saw him change that up. We did see Anthony baby his way back into the Game 5 where Oklahoma City fought back from down a billion.

There are other times with many thinking Westbrook played too few minutes. When in fact he played the most minutes of his career by almost a full minute more a game. His decision making to maybe let Westbrook sit in certain situation when games may have gotten away from the Thunder is a question mark.

“From start to finish they were constantly trying to work on things to help us be a better team,” Donovan said.

While the Thunder got better as the season progressed, it really was the loss of Roberson who sealed Oklahoma City’s fate. George wasn’t as good. Neither was Anthony. Oklahoma City’s stats slipped considerably across the board. Donovan failed to adjust the identity of this team after that point. It resembled last season’s “let Westbrook, be Westbrook” season. Which is all fine and dandy but with two other really solid offensive players, there could’ve been more variety at times, but it was a revert to bad habits.

The Conclusion

Donovan gets a  

He wasn’t overtly spectacular this season and he didn’t deserve to be fired. I also didn’t think Scott Brooks deserved to be fired. There is a growing sentiment General Manager Sam Presti has his hand in the cookie jar more than the franchise will lead you to believe.

The constant roster changing and injuries are tough. He’s still a growing coach learning from his mistakes. In a state where football is still king and a single loss could be the end of everything, Thunder fans still hold the coach to this weird pedestal.

“I thought Billy did an excellent job,” Presti said.

For the record, Donovan still has two years, $12 million left on his contract.

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Thunder Playoff Game Day: at Utah Jazz – Game 3

Series tied 1-1

Saturday, April 21 :: 9:00 p.m. CST ::Vivint Smart Home Arena (19,911)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 4½-point underdog. The over/under is 207.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder look to get back on top of a tight series with a win in Utah tonight. If the Thunder fall tonight, the series gets tough. If they win, they take a commanding 2-1 lead with a game back in Oklahoma City potentially close out the series.
  • Utah beat the Thunder 102-95 on Wednesday night in a game that saw Oklahoma City go on a 19-0 and then Utah respond with an 18-3 run of their own. Oklahoma City’s Big Three went 0-of-14 in the fourth quarter, a first this season.
  • The Thunder scored its 10,000th playoff point, one of just three teams to do so since the 2010 postseason (San Antonio, Miami).
  • Russell Westbrook fell one rebound shy of a triple-double with a team-leading 19 points, game-best 13 assists and nine rebounds along with a game-high four steals.
  • Paul George notched his third playoff double-double with 18 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds while blocking three shots.
  • Jerami Grant set new postseason career highs in both scoring and rebounding with a bench-leading 13 points and six rebounds while going 6-for-10 from the field.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game is on ESPN for the national broadcast. It’s unknown who the broadcast team will be.

SCOUTING THE JAZZ

  • The Utah Jazz finished the regular season 48-34 on the season, fifth in the Western Conference.
  • Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Utah all finished with the same record. However, the Thunder’s best overall record between the three teams is what secured the Thunder the fourth seed.
  • Over their last 10 games, Utah is 7-3.
  • In their last 10 road games, the Jazz are 7-3.
  • All-time against Utah, the Thunder are 106-78.
  • Since relocation from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 27-12 against the Jazz.
  • When the games are played at the ‘Peake, the Thunder are dominant. They’ve won 14 straight against the Jazz.
  • Utah hasn’t won in Oklahoma City since the arena was named Oklahoma City Arena.
  • The Thunder are 17-2 against the Jazz in the OKC era at home.
  • In the regular season, Oklahoma City won the series, going 3-1 against Utah.
  • You really have to throw the season series out of the window as the last meeting happened on Dec. 23 and the Thunder are a much different team since the loss of Andre Roberson.
  • Oklahoma City is 10-2 against the Jazz dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on Dec. 20, 2017, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 107-79 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 120-99 loss on Oct. 31, 2010

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.

CONNECTIONS

  • Thabo Sefolosha spent six seasons with the Thunder.
  • Alec Burks Andre Roberson played together at Colorado (2010-11).
  • Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler were teammates in Detroit for three seasons (2012-15).
  • Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder, Jazz Assistant Coach Antonio Lang and Singler all played at Duke.

WHAT’S IN A JAZZ NAME

  • No, Utah isn’t known for its Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans in 1974 and club officials decided to keep the name after relocating to Salt Lake City in 1979.
  • The Jazz nickname was originally chosen through a name-the-team contest, which produced seven other finalists: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights.
  • Deltas would’ve translated to Salt Lake City rather well (the airline of the same name has a hub there), while Cajuns may have been even worse than Jazz.



Three Keys to the Game

Pace

Utah struggled keeping up with the pace in Game 1. For some reason, the Jazz (25th in pace in the regular season) thought they could keep up with Oklahoma City in transition. It didn’t work. Oklahoma City really forced Utah into some compromising positions as a result. Oklahoma City has to talk them into doing it again. Push the pace. Get Utah uncomfortable.

Rebounding

Utah is 35-8 when they win the rebounding battle and they only allow 10.9 second chance points per game. The Jazz are also only 19-21 when allowing 11 or more second chance scoring. They’re 29-13 when they allow 10 or less. Oklahoma City MUST find a way to gobble up offensive boards and make the Jazz pay. This goes back to Steven Adams.

Share the ball

Oklahoma City continues their sharing ways, they’ll be good. Oklahoma City is 31-12 when Westbrook has at least 10 assists. he’s averaging 22.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.0 assists in four games against Utah. If Westbrook could get to that 10 assist mark that means two things: 1) he’s trusting his teammates and 2) those said teammates are hitting their shots.

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!

Thunder Playoff Game Day: Game 1 vs. Utah Jazz

SERIES IS TIED 0-0

Sunday, April 15 :: 5:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 730 HD 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 3½-point favorite. The over/under is 206.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Welcome to the 2018 NBA Playoffs, the Thunder’s long time real season. Sure, those 82 games mean something but we all knows players like Russell Westbrook thrive in these moments. 51-point triple-double against Houston. 43-point barn burner against Miami in the NBA Finals. This is stage and he’s a rockstar.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder host the Utah Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The two teams have never met in the playoffs. The two teams have never met while the Thunder have been in Oklahoma City.
  • Oklahoma City lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round last season 4-1, winning Game 3, losing the rest.
  • Last season was the first season in six seasons the Jazz made the playoffs. They beat the Clippers in the first round and were swept in the second round by the Warriors.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Matt Pinto and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game is on TNT as well. Ian Eagle, Brent Barry and Dennis Scott have the call for Turner.

SCOUTING THE JAZZ

  • The Utah Jazz finished the regular season 48-34 on the season, fifth in the Western Conference.
  • Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Utah all finished with the same record. However, the Thunder’s best overall record between the three teams is what secured the Thunder the fourth seed.
  • Over their last 10 games, Utah is 7-3.
  • In their last 10 road games, the Jazz are 7-3.
  • All-time against Utah, the Thunder are 106-78.
  • Since relocation from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 27-12 against the Jazz.
  • When the games are played at the ‘Peake, the Thunder are dominant. They’ve won 14 straight against the Jazz.
  • Utah hasn’t won in Oklahoma City since the arena was named Oklahoma City Arena.
  • The Thunder are 17-2 against the Jazz in the OKC era at home.
  • In the regular season, Oklahoma City won the series, going 3-1 against Utah.
  • You really have to throw the season series out of the window as the last meeting happened on Dec. 23 and the Thunder are a much different team since the loss of Andre Roberson.
  • Oklahoma City is 10-2 against the Jazz dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on Dec. 20, 2017, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 107-79 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 120-99 loss on Oct. 31, 2010

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.
  • Alex Abrines (concussion) is probable as he went through practice the last couple of days.
  • Corey Brewer (knee sprain) is probably and expected to play after going through practice.

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.

CONNECTIONS

  • Thabo Sefolosha spent six seasons with the Thunder.
  • Alec Burks Andre Roberson played together at Colorado (2010-11).
  • Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler were teammates in Detroit for three seasons (2012-15).
  • Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder, Jazz Assistant Coach Antonio Lang and Singler all played at Duke.

WHAT’S IN A JAZZ NAME

  • No, Utah isn’t known for its Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans in 1974 and club officials decided to keep the name after relocating to Salt Lake City in 1979.
  • The Jazz nickname was originally chosen through a name-the-team contest, which produced seven other finalists: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights.
  • Deltas would’ve translated to Salt Lake City rather well (the airline of the same name has a hub there), while Cajuns may have been even worse than Jazz.



Three Keys to the Game

Paint scoring

Rudy Gobert is a monster and for that, Oklahoma City has to find a way to attack the paint and score. Utah is second best in the NBA in defending paint scoring, only allowing 41.8 points in the paint per game. Oklahoma City averages 43, so they need to find a way to beat their average.

Rebounding

Utah is 35-8 when they win the rebounding battle and they only allow 10.9 second chance points per game. The Jazz are also only 19-21 when allowing 11 or more second chance scoring. They’re 29-13 when they allow 10 or less. Oklahoma City MUST find a way to gobble up offensive boards and make the Jazz pay. This goes back to Steven Adams.

Share the ball

Oklahoma City continues their sharing ways, they’ll be good. Oklahoma City is 31-12 when Westbrook has at least 10 assists. he’s averaging 22.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.0 assists in four games against Utah. If Westbrook could get to that 10 assist mark that means two things: 1) he’s trusting his teammates and 2) those said teammates are hitting their shots.

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Thunder players in National Championship games

There’s zero NBA basketball on tonight. We all get a breather. The nation will watch Villanova and Michigan do battle for the national title. Villanova is easily the favorite but who knows what’ll happen.

For the Thunder players, there’s a lot of looking back to their collegiate days. Many played in national championship games. Some won. Some lost. Here’s how the Thunder players fared in their title bouts.

Kyle Singler

There’s just something about awkward, bad hair guys from Duke. Singler led the Duke Blue Devils to the 2010 National Championship over the Butler Bulldogs. Yeah, you know that game. Gordon Hayward took a half court heave that almost ended with a story book ending. It didn’t.

Who would have thought Hayward would be the bigger superstar and Singler would be on the outs of his rotation? Maybe the 0-of-10 game against Baylor in the Elite Eight gave it away.

Anyway, Singler was voted Most Outstanding Player of the game and tournament. He averaged 18.2 points on 45.7 percent from three.

Raymond Felton

How good was Raymond Felton in college? This good:

Felton was put on the cover EA’s March Madness, later renamed NCAA Basketball. Felton was a catalyst in the Tar Heels beating the previously unbeaten Illini of Illinois. Felton had Felton had 17 points, dished out six assists on 4-of-9 shooting in the win over Illinois in the championship game.

Sean May, who’s not in the league anymore, was the Most Outstanding Player. Felton was named to the NCAA Tournament All-Tournament team. It was North Carolina’s first national title in 12 years.

In six games during the NCAA tournament, Felton average 13.7 points, 6.8 assists per game on 44.1 percent three-point shooting. Felton had a near triple-double in the Sweet 16 win over Villanova. He finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.

Dakari Johnson

The forgotten Thunder player, Dakari Johnson went to two final fours in his two seasons at Kentucky. His freshman year, he started 18 games, en route to the National Championship game in 2014. That’s where Kentucky ran into Kevin Ollie’s UConn team. The Huskies beat Kentucky 60-54 in a surprising but boring game.

Johnson started the title game but was largely ineffective. He scored just five points on 2-of-5 shooting, pulled down four rebounds.

Johnson would be on the really talented Kentucky team that was upset by Wisconsin in the 2015 Final Four. That Wisconsin team would fall to Duke in the National Championship game the following season.

Nick Collison

Mr. Thunder was the best player in the country at Kansas his senior year. He was the coach’s choice for Player of the Year. Consensus All-American. Big 12 Player of the Year and helped the Kansas Jayhawks to the 2003 title game.

After going through Dwyane Wade’s Marquette team in the Final Four, Collison led the Jayhawks against this upstart freshman named Carmelo Anthony and the Syracuse Orangemen.

Collison played 40 minutes, only resting during timeouts and at halftime. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, pulled down 21 rebounds… not a typo. He was a beast. Unfortunately for Hair Thunder, he was a poor 3-of-10 at the free throw line as Kansas lost 81-78.

Collison averaged 18.7 points and 13.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on 64.9 percent from the floor for the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony

Anthony was a highly touted recruit and it showed throughout the season as Syracuse was one of the best teams in college basketball. Anthony took the Orangemen all the way to the title game against Kansas. You know about Collison’s heroics but it was Anthony who got the last laugh.

Anthony scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists as Anthony was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. The real performance was the 33-point scoring output by Anthony as Syracuse handed out to Texas in the Final Four.

Anthony averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game on 47.6 percent three-point shooting. After the game, Anthony declared for the NBA Draft, being taken third by the Denver Nuggets. The rest is history.

Corey Brewer

Maybe the most successful in the NCAA tournament out of all Thunder players. Brewer was apart of the back-to-back championships Florida had in 2006 and 2007. Coach by Thunder head man, Billy Donovan, Brewer and the Florida Gators lost just 11 games over the two championship seasons.

In 2006, Brewer helped Florida win their school’s first banner as the Gators beat the UCLA Bruins 73-57. No, Russell Westbrook didn’t play in this game. Brewer had 11 points and seven rebounds in the win over UCLA.

In 2007, Brewer led the Gators to their second consecutive National Championship. Brewer and the Gators beat Ohio State in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. Something about Florida playing Big 10 teams in title games. Brewer scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. This game involved eight NBA players, five on Florida and three on Ohio State. Brewer was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

Brewer averaged 15.9 points and almost seven rebounds per game as a senior.

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Ranking Westbrook’s six best game winners

The lights are beaming down on the court. The fans are holding their breath. A quick check of the scoreboard says there’s only enough time for one shot. This moment needs a hero.

Sounds like a job for one man: Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook consistently goes pedal to the floor from start to finish, and it shows in his willingness and confidence to take the deciding shot when the time comes. In the last 10 seconds of any given game, he has hit seven three-point shots to take the lead or tie over the last two seasons.

To celebrate this clutch monster, here’s a ranking of Russ’s best game winners when all eyes were on him.

If you disagree, @ThunderDigest on twitter or FB.com/ThunderDigest for your picks!

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Westbrook-less Thunder waxed by Lakers

Russell Westbrook missed his first game of the season with a sprained ankle and Paul George wasn’t enough to do it by himself. The Los Angeles Lakers used an 8-0 run from the first to the second quarter, taking the lead and never looking back as Los Angeles beat the Thunder 106-81 on Thursday night.

Oklahoma City falls to 31-25 on the season and the Thunder are now 1-5 in their last six games.

it’s the first time since the Thunder relocated from Seattle the two teams split the regular season series. The last time the two split before this season was the 2002-03 season.

Westbrook rolled his ankle in the Thunder’s 125-105 win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night and it’s pretty understood if this was a must win game, the Thunder could’ve let him roll out there. However in the name of preservation and health, the Thunder held out Westbrook despite him going through some walk through drills in pre-game and in shoot around.

George scored 15 of the first 22 Thunder’s points and it appeared the Thunder were in good spirits. However, a horrible stretch where the Thunder missed 14 consecutive shots, spanning almost five minutes.

Oklahoma City fought back from a double digit deficit to close within 52-46 at halftime.

George couldn’t do it all tonight, he finished with 29 points on 11-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-12 from beyond the three-point line.

Steven Adams struggled from the floor against Brook Lopez. He was only 4-of-11 for 13 points and nine rebounds.

However, the free throw shooting seemed to be the Achilles tonight. Oklahoma City was dreadful once again. The Thunder went 9-of-19 (47.6 percent) from the free throw line. Then, they tried to match that by going 8-of-34 (23.5 percent) from the three-point line.

Oklahoma City would get within 89-71 with 8:27 left in the fourth quarter but the Thunder would get no closer. Los Angeles would push their lead to as many as 27 in the fourth quarter.

Kyle Singler had three points in the second half, second highest total this season.

Oklahoma City only scored 35 second half points.

Oklahoma City will turn their attention to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday evening. The Thunder and the Grizzlies haven’t met yet and will do so twice in three games. They’ll also play on Thursday night with a meeting with the new look Cleveland Cavaliers in between.

Keys to the Game

Limit Threes: F

The Oklahoma City Thunder struggled to defend the three. The Lakers blitz Oklahoma City from beyond the arc, hitting 10 three-pointers. Los Angeles shot 10-of-31 from three (32.3 percent). It was an absolutely pathetic defensive performance.

Lawler’s Law: F

The Lakers hit 100 first. Oklahoma City didn’t even hit 100. This is a rough performance when one of the NBA’s best players sits with an injury. Oklahoma City really missed Westbrook explosive ability to get to the rim tonight. On the bright side, the Thunder don’t play again until Sunday.

Paul George: B

George turned it over six times but scored 29 points. George really had to do it all and was trying his best. When you’re the only one gaining any momentum, the Thunder were bound to struggle. Outside of the first six minutes of the game, George only scored 14 points the remainder of the game.

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