Tag - Lakers

How hot is Billy Donovan’s seat?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are riding the struggle bus and for some the first place blame goes to is the head coach. Even Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said at practice on Monday, he’s to blame (along with others). While everyone blames Donovan for the inefficiencies the Thunder have faced this season, how hot is Donovan’s seat?

Before the firing of Earl Watson three games into this season, no NBA head coach had been fired since May 2016, a streak of 533 days. He was the first coach to be fired in season since Derek Fisher was fired from the Knicks job in Feb 2016. There had been his weird continuity with organizational leadership and coaching stability. However, that’s out the window. Since the start of the season, two coaches have been fired (Fizdale Memphis and Watson Phoenix). There might be more on the way (see: Fred Hoiberg Chicago and Budenholzer Atlanta).

The NBA is so much different than the NFL. Most NFL coaches are fired on what they call “Black Monday.” The NBA owners react without care of public perception. They strike without justifying their terminations. The stability in which we’ve seen in the last year or so is really an anomaly of it all. In the last 10 seasons, there have been nine Coach of the Year winners (Poppovich won twice). Five have been fired. Not resigned. Fired. So, this is truly a league of what have you done for me lately.

With David Fizdale gone in Memphis, many in Oklahoma City perked up an eye, maybe calling for him to come to Oklahoma City. That’s not happening. Well, at least in mid-season. We’re at the point in the season, which is any point past training camp through the end of the regular season, to where no organization in their right mind would bring in an outside coach. They would just promote an assistant to an interim position.

So, if the Thunder were going to can Donovan, it would be assumed that Mo Cheeks, the only coach on the staff with prior head coaching experience to step in and take the reigns. Cheeks has won over 600 games and was fired in Detroit for one season after going 21-29. The NBA sometimes doesn’t make any sense.

However, what does make sense is the Thunder front office. They’re known for their patience and their timing. They waited until the end of the season to fire Scott Brooks, despite still winning 45 games. They did dismiss PJ Carlesimo after only 13 games, when the Thunder started 1-12. Presti said at the time of the Carlesimo firing: “There’s accountability for everybody involved — players, coaches, myself and anyone involved with our basketball team. We understand that.”

Firing a coach may not always lead to results. The last five coaches in season (not counting Fizdale) have seen difference of success. Jay Triano, who stepped in for the fire Earl Watson in Phoenix is 7-11 during his tenure this season. Which is nice considering the Suns started out 0-3, losing by massive margins. However, Phoenix is only 3-7 in their last 10 games.

When Derek Fisher was let go by the All-Star break in 2016, Kurt Rambis stepped in and went 5-12 to start his campaign. He finished an abysmal 9-19.

The Rockets let hall of fame player, Kevin McHale, go 11 games into the season that same year. Houston was 4-7 at the time. J.B. Bickerstaff, the same guy who’s been named interim in Memphis, was named interim in Houston. Bickerstaff went 37-34 over his time in Houston that season.

Not everyone is fired for performance issues. Mike Malone was fired 24 games into the 2014-15 season. Sacramento would go on in the middle of the season to lose 12 of 13 games under Tyrone Corbin, former Utah Jazz head coach.

Mike Brown has been fired twice, despite turning out excellent resumes. He won 41 games in the strike shorten season with Los Angeles. However, the Laker’s management cited lack of patience as a reason why they canned the former Cavs coach. Before that, Cleveland let him go as LeBron bolted for Miami despite him winning 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons. Mike D’Antoni replaced Brown, going 40-32 for the rest of the season as that was the last time the Lakers made the playoffs.

So, there are tons of reasons why coaches get fired. Donovan falls under the lack of performance one. However, the chances of Donovan getting canned mid-season are slim. The Thunder with all of the up in the air issues with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, you cannot risk firing a coach and forcing a start over of sorts with players who might not want to play for an uncertain coach.

Then again, they could and I could have typed all of this for nothing.


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Thunder lose another questionable one

A team goes up 10-0, you get this feeling this game is going to be a blow out in the Thunder’s favor. Two hours later you’re sitting on your couch, wondering where things went wrong and why you decided to be a basketball fan. The Thunder’s 94-86 loss to Sacramento leaves more questions already.

The Kings picked up their first win since Oct. 20, a span of 19 days.

While the Thunder led by as many as 17 in the first half, it was the Kings that powered back and led 42-41 at halftime. It appeared this was going to be a tough battle but the Thunder struggled to get quality shots, settling for contested jumpers. They didn’t rebound and allowed a 36-year old Zach Randolph to pretend it was the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

“It starts with me” Westbrook said. “Part of my job is to do that and make sure my guys are ready to play. I take ownership in that. It’s part of my job to get us back on a roll.”

Westbrook struggled going 7-for-21 from the floor. He turned the ball over seven times and missed six threes. Often those misses were ill advised shots.

With the starting five struggling, Sacramento’s reserves scored the team’s first 29 points — an NBA record, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The previous record was 23 set by Milwaukee against Orlando on April 5, 2011.

The Thunder shot only 33 percent from the floor. Not far from the franchise record of 28.4 percent against the Lakers in 2016. Oklahoma City seemed to be lackadaisical on loose balls and chasing defenders. Backdoor cuts were open for the Kings and settling for threes were plentiful.

While the Kings went up by 12 in the fourth quarter, you knew Oklahoma City was going to make a run. They did, cutting it to 77-76 with 4:29 remaining. However, Carmelo Anthony picked up a technical foul and Buddy Hield nailed a three, increasing their lead to five in a matter of seconds.

Oklahoma City will travel to Denver to get their act together against the Nuggets on Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled a 9:30 p.m. tip-off on TNT.

Keys to the Game

Rebound: C

Oklahoma City scored 18 points on nine offensive rebounds. However, the Kings out rebounded the Thunder. Oklahoma City falls to 0-6 when being out rebounded. The Kings are now 2-0 when out rebounding their opponent.

Share the ball: F

Only 15 assists for the Thunder. Westbrook has six of them. Way too many ISO shots and no movement within the offense. This was one of the worst games when it comes to sharing the ball. Oklahoma City does SO well when they share the ball. Oklahoma City is 0-5 when their opponents has more assists.

Get to the line: A

This is about the only thing the Thunder did well tonight. They attempted 23 attempts, making 18 of them. Westbrook even did things right. He made 4-of-5. This is something we need to see on the regular. No more 15-19 attempts. More 23-28 attempts.

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2k rating changes for Thunder players

A lot of people play NBA 2k18. It’s a fun series and the developers are awesome at keeping it close to real life as possible. There are a few flaws but for the most part, they do a fantastic job of trying to keep  everything up to date.

Today, 2k released some rating changes throughout the NBA. There were some Thunder changes as well. Seven players had their rating rise or be lowered.

Around the Association,  some of the biggest changes went to former Thunder player Victor Oladipo. Previously, he was a 79 and jumped up to an 84. Mike James went from a 69 to a 74. Then, on the flip side, Kyle Lowry, Dirk Nowitzki, Wilson Chandler, Markelle Fultz, and Lance Stephenson, who all saw their overall ratings fall by three points.

Tobias Harris of the Pistons, Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers and Evan Fournier all had four point jumps.

Before we get into the Thunder ones, there are some questionable ones from around the league:

  • Jeremy Lamb is now a 78 overall???
  • JR Smith is a 73?!?!
  • How in God’s green earth is JJ Barea a 77 overall
  • Reggie Jackson is 80 overall
  • Domantas Sabonis gets a four-point jump is now 76 overall
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is bumped up to a 94.
  • Rudy Gobert lost two points and is now an 86.
  • Kelly Oubre of the Wizards gets a one-point bump to 75 overall. Must be his fighting skills.

Now the Thunder ratings:

  • Paul George: 90 OVR (-1)
  • Carmelo Anthony: 85 OVR (+1)
  • Steven Adams: 83 OVR (+1)
  • Andre Roberson: 75 OVR (-1)
  • Patrick Patterson: 74 OVR (-1)
  • Jerami Grant: 74 OVR (+1)
  • Alex Abrines: 73 OVR (-1)

First: Patterson and Abrines super under rated here. Abrines being a 73 is asinine. Patterson is more of a 77 guy, in my opnion.

Second: Melo only an 85 overall? I am bewildered.

Third: Adams deserves more of a bump up. He’s earned it.

If you have 2k18, add me thunder_digest on PS4 and we’ll play.

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Power Rankings Week 2 (Oct. 23-29)

We’re going to rank all 30 NBA teams. If you disagree, please tell us. We’re going to try and remain impartial to being a Thunder site.

This week, while the Thunder have struggled to start the season, they’ll drop in our rankings but there were so high risers as well. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the MVP if the season ended right now.

Weeks: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27

Biggest rise: Orlando — 11 spots

Biggest drop: Boston — 11 spots

1. Houston Rockets (3-0) (Last week: 2) ?

The Rockets even without Chris Paul due to a knee injury vaulted to the top of our rankings. Their three-point shooting, combined with REAL defense has the Rockets feeling good early on.

2. San Antonio Spurs (2-0) (LW: 5) ?

No Kawhi Leonard? No problem. The Spurs win their first two games by a combined 18 points. LaMarcus Aldridge is thriving since getting his new contract.

3. Washington Wizards (2-0) (LW: 6) ?

John Wall and Beal are doing their thing. However, can we talk about Otto Porter Jr. and his performance against Detroit? 28 points and the victory. Wizards doing things right.

4. Toronto Raptors (2-0) (LW: 9) ?

I think this might be my most impressive team in the rankings. Serge Ibaka hit five three-pointers on Saturday night as he’s become that stretch four Dwayne Casey has been looking for. Raptors second highest in the East.

5. L.A. Clippers (2-0 (LW: 11) ?

As one of the last undefeated teams left, they lost Milos Teodosic for a long time with Planter Fascias injury. I’m just really glad I spelled his name right the first time.

6. Milwaukee Bucks (2-1) (LW: 10) ?

Who’s the early front runner for MVP? That would be Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s averaging 38.3 points per game to start the season. Antetokounmpo had 44 points in the loss to Portland on Saturday night. According to ESPN, Antetokounmpo is the only player with a block, steal and go-ahead field goal in the final 30 seconds over the past 10 seasons. Also, I did not spell his name right the first time. Maybe next week.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) (LW: 7)

The Wizards might be the highest ranked Eastern Conference team right now but cannot count out Cleveland. Outside of the loss to Magic, they’ve looked really started strong after beating Boston and Milwaukee to start the season.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1) (LW: 8)

Andrew Wiggins is 30 feet away from the T-Wolves being under .500. This team is going to be pretty good. They play the Thunder again on Friday night. Expect another tough battle.

9. Utah Jazz (2-1) (LW: 12) ?

Rudy Gobert and Derek Favors are one of the best front courts in the NBA. A tough opening season stretch vs. division foes saw the Jazz come out on top. Joe Ingles has thrived in the replacement of Rodney Hood. He’s hit 12 threes in his last three games.

10. Golden State Warriors (1-2) (LW: 1) ?

Mouth piece throwers and bragging about rings to fans. These are your 2016-17 Golden State Warriors. It’s the first time since 2009-10 the Warriors started the season 1-2. That Warriors team missed the playoffs. I doubt this one will have any trouble.

11. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) (LW: 3) ?

A big drop as the the Thunder dropped two games they should’ve won. That’s to be considered as they still have chemistry issues to work out. The 2-for-28 over 15-minute stretch in the loss to Utah on Saturday night didn’t help.

12. Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) (LW: 14) ?

A huge opening night win over the Suns, combined with another win over Indiana moves the Trail Blazers up two spots. Four-game home stand will benefit the Blazers this week.

13. Denver Nugget (2-1) (LW: 13)

Nikola Jokic scored 0 points but was a plus-21 on the night as the Nuggets beat Kings 96-79. A four-game road trip coming up for the Nuggets will test their patience.

14. Detroit Pistons (2-1) (LW: 22) ?

According to Duncan Smith of Piston Powered, Reggie Jackson leads the Pistons in net rating at 14.6 so far. The Pistons are 30.9 points per 100 better when Reggie Jackson is ON than OFF. The Pistons have a brutal week with hosting the T-Wolves, then going to the Clips and Warriors.

15. Boston Celtics (1-2) (LW: 4) ?

I hope there aren’t any Boston fans who read this. They’re going to destroy me. Gordon Hayward goes down on opening night. They also fall to Milwaukee. They’ll get the Knicks and Hawks this week to help them recover their record a bit.

16. Miami Heat (1-1) (LW: 17) ?

Miami plays Atlanta on Monday night but then they’ll host the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics this week. We’ll find out what Miami is about very soon.

17. Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) (LW: 20) ?

A win over the defending champions only moves you up three spots? I know. I just couldn’t justify moving them up more. I want to like this team, I just cannot yet.

18. Brooklyn Nets (2-1) (LW: 29) ?

An 11-spot jump is our largest jump this week. Brooklyn has won back-to-back games since losing Jeremy Lin to a knee injury. D’Angelo Russell is playing well to start the season. Nets are the first teams since the 1988-89 Blazers to score at least 115 points in their first three games.

19. Orlando Magic (2-1) (LW: 26)  ?

Might be our second largest jump of seven spots. I thought about putting them higher but refrained. Orlando has looked well this season, including a dominating win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

20. Charlotte Hornets (1-1) (LW: 16) ?

Dwight Howard has been consistent. Literally. 15 rebounds and 15 points in back to back games. that’s a thing. Only a win over the Knicks and a loss to Detroit, still feeling this team out.

21. New Orleans Pelicans (1-2) (LW: 18) ?

For some reason the Pelicans cut Jordan Crawford for Jameer Nelson. It won’t help Boogie and the Brow. Despite a win over Lakers on Sunday night, this has been a super inconsistent start for NOLA.

22. Sacramento Kings (1-2) (LW: 21) ?

The Kings played the Rockets tough on their opening night. Their offense is the second worst in the association, only behind the Bulls.

23. Los Angeles Lakers (1-2) (LW: 23)

Patrick Beverley made Lonzo Ball’s opening night horrible but they beat the Suns. So, there’s that. We don’t know exactly how bad the Lakers are yet.

24. Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) (LW: 15) ?

Okay, maybe I was too high on the Sixers. They keep getting worse. Lost by five, 10 and then 30. Will they lose by 120 next game? You’ll have to watch to find out.

25. Atlanta Hawks (1-2) (LW: 30) ?

Hawks get moved up for their win over Dallas on opening night. They’ll descend back to the bottom if Dennis Schroder is out with his ankle injury for a significant amount of time.

26. Indiana Pacers (1-2) (LW: 25) ?

The Pacers are formidable. They dropped 130 in the win over the Brooklyn Nets. Domantas Sabonis might develop into something fun.

27. Dallas Mavericks (0-3) (LW: 19) ?

The Dennis Smith Jr. era getting off to a horrible start but the kid can play. Poor Dirk for having to deal with this.

28. Chicago Bulls (0-2) (LW: 27) ?

One teammate punches another and then said teammate gets suspended for eight games. It was rounded up by the team getting punched by other teams as Chicago is 0-2.

29. New York Knicks (0-2) (LW: 28) ?

I would say they would be the worst defensive team in the league if it wasn’t for the last team in our rankings…

30. Phoenix Suns (0-3) (LW: 24) ?

LOL, Suns.

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Power Rankings Week 1 (Oct. 16-22)

The NBA season is upon us! Oklahoma City doesn’t play until Thursday but the NBA season starts tomorrow night. With that said, we’re going to try and do something every Monday here at Thunder Digest. We’re going to rank all 30 NBA teams. If you disagree, please tell us. We’re going to try and remain impartial to being a Thunder site.

1) Golden State Warriors

I feel like this is a given. The Warriors added Nick Young and are the defending champions. They’re going to be here until they lose more than they’re expected. Vegas has them at 67 wins. I’d take the low as the West is very tough this season.

2) Houston Rockets

When you add a hall-of-fame point guard, you’re going to improve. The Houston Rockets with the addition of Chris Paul are going to barrage every team in the league with three-pointers and there is only way to stop them, let them miss. That’s really it.

3) The Oklahoma City Thunder

You add Paul George and Carmelo Anthony? You shoot up everyone’s rankings. Russell Westbrook doesn’t need to do it all himself this year. Alex Abrines, who set a rookie Thunder record for made threes, is back and will provide a nice support off the bench. The bench is the major question mark for the Thunder.

4) Boston Celtics

Once again, a team acquiring another superstar(s) shoots up the rankings. Though, Boston went to the Eastern Conference Finals, they added Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Boston is deep and very talented. How will Irving and the rest of the Celtics gel?

5) San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard. Enough said. This man might be the front-runner for the MVP this season. Their age is always going to be a factor but you cannot discount everything the Spurs do. They’re consistent as the sun and the moon.

6) Washington Wizards

I have a soft spot for Scottie Brooks. That man will always be revered in my household. Wizards almost won 49 games last year after an abysmal 3-9 start. With a healthy John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards are on the right path.

7) Cleveland Cavaliers

Now please don’t sacrifice me for putting the Cavaliers this far down. It’s really due to Isaiah Thomas being out with the hip until at least Christmas. This list is to start the season. The Cavaliers will probably still win the Eastern Conference.

8) Minnesota Timberwolves

How many teams have 2016-17 20-point scorers? Three. Golden State, Oklahoma City and Minnesota. Adding Jimmy Butler and Co., the Timberwolves will finally move into the playoffs.

9) Toronto Raptors

Patrick Patterson is gone but that’s fine. Serge Ibaka is the stretch Toronto wanted anyway. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan give the Raptors one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA.

10) Milwaukee Bucks

Kevin Durant said Giannis Antetokounmpo could be the player in the history of the NBA. The dude keeps getting better and better. Experts, not Durant, think he could eventually average multiple seasons of triple-doubles. That’ll be time before it comes true but he’s fun to watch. Oh and there is Thon Maker, too. He’s cool.

11) L.A. Clippers

What a weird season for the Clippers. Chris Paul is gone but they retain Blake Griffin and still have DeAndre Jordan. I’d like to think Milos Teodosic is the real deal. Plus, adding Sam Dekker was a clutch move to sure up them their bench.

12) Utah Jazz

The Jazz are in a weird spot, like the Thunder were last year. However, with Derek Favors and Rudy Gobert, they still have some players. They added Ricky Rubio from Minnesota. It’s not like they fell off the map. Bench is a bit of a question but they’ll be okay.

13) Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic is a stud. Will Barton and Gary Harris will lead a backcourt but the inconsistency of the Nuggets from last year leaves them out of my top 10. Though, they were 15-11 after the Nurkic trade last year.

14) Portland Trail Blazers

It’s the Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum show once again. Jusuf Nurkic was a beast after the trade and they added Caleb Swanigan but is there enough defense out there to contend in the super tough Northwest Division?

15) Philadelphia 76ers

Okay, maybe I’m overselling the 76ers but that’s fine. Joel Embiid is so entertaining to watch. If he can stay healthy, he’s an All-Star player and the 76ers make the playoffs. If he gets hurt, JJ Redick made $23 million to go to Brooklyn next season.

16) Charlotte Hornets

Kemba Walker gets help from an over-the-hill Dwight Howard but will still be enough to make the playoffs in the East but won’t be entertaining to watch.

17) Miami Heat

The Heatles went 30-11 down the stretch and barely missed the playoffs. Curious to see what Waiter’s Island is like without a contract year to fall back on.

18) New Orleans Pelicans

Despite Boogie and Anthony Davis being maybe the best front court in NBA history, the Pelicans don’t have enough to get it done. Rajon Rondo isn’t the answer, either.

19) Dallas Mavericks

If you haven’t seen Dennis Smith Jr. play yet, this guy is going to be so good. Dallas found their next franchise player. Even with aging Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks will miss the playoffs.

20) Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have been a staple in the playoffs for the last few years. I think that ends this year. While Mike Conley is one of my favorite point guards to watch, I don’t think him and Marc Gasol can do it alone.

21) Sacramento Kings

Dave Joerger and Zach Randolph, okay. Also, Vince Carter is on this team. Is this the rejected Memphis Grizzlies? Why didn’t Tony Allen come here?

22) Detroit Pistons

There isn’t a lot from keeping me ranking the Pistons lower on this rankings, other than bottom six teams are all from the East. Just a plague of how bad the East bottom half is.

23) Los Angeles Lakers

I’m not sold on Lonzo Ball yet. However, he makes the Lakers relevant, even if they’re bad again. The League’s (and team’s throughout the league’s, profit goes up when the Lakers are relevant.

24) Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker and Dragon Bender got some help in Josh Jackson. The Suns are going to be bad again. However, they’ll at least be entertaingly bad.

25) Indiana Pacers

Victor Oladipo will have his work cut out for him in Indiana. Luckily he has Miles Turner to assist him in this 35-win season.

26) Orlando Magic

Kind of like Chicago, I find it hard to really name some players. Then, they rolled in a bit better than with Chicago. Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier will get some attention but for the most part, this team might not win 30 games.

27) Chicago Bulls

I thought about it really quick, there isn’t a person on the Bulls I could name off the top of my head. That’s not a good sign. However, Zach LaVine and Robin Lopez will try not let this team end up worst than some expect.

28) New York Knicks

Poor Ron Baker. He and Kristaps Prozingis will have to win every game on their own.

29) Brooklyn Nets

They don’t have a first round pick of their own until next season. They do have a first round pick from the Raptors, but it’s lottery protected. That’s about the only thing going well for Brooklyn coming up. This is going to be a rough season. They only won 20 games last year.

30) Atlanta Hawks

Only if the Hawks were going to be as entertaining as their twitter account is. This is going to be a rough season in the dirty south.

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Thunder get unlikely support in KD, Jackson

A lot of things have happened in the 11 days since Paul George was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

George speaking, however, wasn’t one of those things.

In his first interview since the trade, George, a Palmdale, California, native, spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins on his future in Oklahoma City, and even gave some insight he had received from two surprising former Thunder players on what to expect playing in the Central Plains.

George was the prominent name dominating all the headlines entering NBA free agency on July 1. With rumors swirling about him joining the Cavs, Celtics or Lakers via trade, it seemed inevitable George would end up with a big market team.

Until Sam Presti decided otherwise.

What started as shock quickly turned into excitement for the sharp small forward.

“I’ve heard there might be people, like, at the airport,” George said when asked about his first appearance in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

After Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard alerted George he was headed to Oklahoma City via trade, the Fresno State alumni immediately started calling around, doing some research.

The bulk of the information he received came from a very unlikely source: Kevin Durant.

“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away,'” George said.

“He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.'”

“He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organization in every way,” George said about Durant.

With Durant came another unlikely source singing Oklahoma City’s praises: Reggie Jackson.

George talked to Jackson, who happens to be one of his best friends, and Jackson told the former Indiana star that he would “love it there.”

When Jenkins began to question George about his future in Oklahoma City, George was brutally honest.

“I grew up a Lakers and a Clippers fan,” George said.

“People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid growing up on the outskirts of L.A.”

However, George’s tone about L.A. quickly changed.

“For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a good team. I want a shot to win it.”

“If we get a killer season in Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that,” George said about his Oklahoma City future.

“I’m thrilled,” George said.

“All I was asking for was a little help in Indy. Now I’m getting a lot of help in Oklahoma.”

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Summer of Sam: Presti coming through this summer

NBA fans never hear any rumblings of what the Thunder are doing in the trade and free agency market.

It’s part of what has made them so successful as a franchise. It’s another reason the Thunder have had the best offseason in the association this year. Thanks to general manager Sam Presti, the Thunder are looking as if they will have one of their strongest rosters ever when the season tips off in October.

Presti and the Thunder brass have always been quiet, lurking in the shadows of the NBA trade market always looking to make a big splash. It’s how they landed former Indiana forward Paul George. It’s how, time and time again, the Thunder’s front office looks like the one of the best in the NBA.

There have been some questionable decisions, sure. Trading James Harden because of a contract dispute doesn’t look great now, but there was no guarantee Harden would have reached MVP-caliber status if he remained in Thunder blue. Kevin Durant’s departure shook up the central plains a year ago, but Thunder fans are looking to the future now more than ever thanks to Presti and Co.

Oklahoma City needed another superstar to play alongside Russell Westbrook. His late-game heroics often took a front seat to his struggles finding someone on the floor who could make a big play down the stretch. Westbrook doesn’t have to wonder whether his teammates are ready to help him now. He has another top NBA player on the wing.

George isn’t Durant, but Durant isn’t George. Durant is the world’s best scorer, though George can put the ball in the basket, too. He averaged a career-high 23.7 points per contest last season, making 46.1 percent of his shots and 39.1 percent from deep.

Presti added what the Thunder needed most: another scoring option to help Westbrook. No longer does Westbrook need to be the only hero, he has Robin. But George and Westbrook can coexist, taking over games with their combined skills on offense, leaving defenses bewildered and confused after the duo combined for a game-clinching 8-0 run in the final minutes. It’s a sight Thunder fans will see many times in 2017-18.

George isn’t a one way player, though, as his defense has earned him a spot on three All-Defensive teams because of his lockdown prowess on the perimeter. Another superstar will be playing in Chesapeake Energy Arena this offseason, thanks to Presti’s patience and aggressiveness.

Indiana sifted through multiple offers for its four-time All-Star, receiving calls from Cleveland, Boston and Los Angeles. After George said he would not return to Indiana following the final season on his contract, opposing GM’s continued to call Indiana to see how they could get George on their team. Presti was one of them, but he waited for the right moment.

Presti knew Indiana wanted Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Oladipo is a fan favorite of the state; he played at Indiana and still hasn’t reached his prime. Sabonis has potential, but Presti didn’t see his fit with Westbrook as he pictured it when he acquired Sabonis from Orlando.

About two hours before the official start to the new league season, Presti shot from half-court, the shot ripping the cotton and harmlessly hitting the court beneath him.

Presti landed another superstar.

Whether George will commit to Oklahoma City remains unseen. George has said he wants to play for the Lakers starting next season, but possibly a season playing with Westbrook will change his mind to sign long term.

The chances of George staying are slim, but they can improve. Presti made a gamble. Trade two players who have long contracts for a possible one-year rental for George, but it shows his commitment to want to win now. Presti wants to build a team around Westbrook, and George was just the start.

The Thunder signed power forward Patrick Patterson to a three-year, $16.4 million deal. Patterson, a three-and-D player, has excelled in the NBA to this point in his career. The Raptors’ outscored their opponents by 1,004 points while Patterson was on the floor the past three seasons. When he was off the floor, they were outscored by 38.

Patterson can play power forward or center on defense and he can stretch the floor offensively. The past three seasons, Patterson made at least 94 3-pointers. His presence with George will open up the floor tremendously for the Thunder next season, who finished last in three-point percentage in 2016-17.

Presti wasn’t done, though. He re-signed Andre Roberson to a three-year, $30 million offer, which was $2 million less than Presti offered Roberson before the season. It’s a steal, yes, but Roberson still can improve in his game. His offense needs a lot of work. This deal will be one of the best Presti has negotiated with a player if Roberson can maintain a steady shooting stroke and knock down free throws consistently.

Roberson was paid for his defense. Roberson and George will be one of, if not, the best perimeter defending duo’s in the league next season. Shoot, Oklahoma City’s defense will be one of the best, too. If and when Roberson improves his offensive game, he could open up the floor even more for Westbrook and George.

Friday, Presti signed veteran point guard Raymond Felton to a one-year deal. The Thunder solved their backup point guard problem. Although Felton, 33, is near the end of his career, he is a veteran presence in the locker room and will help mend some of the bench struggles the Thunder had last season.

Felton can score, distribute and defend well, especially in the 10-15 minutes he will play each night. As long as the Thunder don’t go missing when Westbrook and George are on the bench, which having Felton should help, the signing is a successful one.

The Thunder had a few glaring holes going into the offseason and they addressed all of them through trades and free agency. Presti added another superstar next to Westbrook, he added a power forward who can spread the floor and defend and he added a backup point guard. Presti also re-signed one of the best defensive guards in the league. Even the Thunder’s draft pick, Terrance Ferguson, is known for his three-and-D style on the wing.

The Thunder needed shooting and Presti got it. The Thunder needed players to spread the floor, check. A backup point guard: no problem. Help for the franchise player, you got it.

Presti is a wizard, but this isn’t Hogwarts.

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Nick Young fielding interest from Thunder

According to Mark Medina, who is the Los Angeles Lakers beat reporter for the L.A. Daily News, Nick Young has fielded interest from three teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Medina says that Young is also receiving interest from the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Young declined the Lakers $5.6 million player option in order to test free agency.

“Swaggy P” would fit relatively well with the Thunder as another player who can create his own shot off the bench and shoot threes well.

This description seems to fit many players that the Thunder are perusing this offseason. As the organization is probably trying to add as much shooting around Russell Westbrook as possible to help the team win and convince the MVP to stay.

The former Laker scored 13.2 points a game while shooting 43 percent from the field. Young also shot 40.4 percent from behind the arc.

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Victor Oladipo wins Dunk of the Year

Victor Oladipo was picked by the fans for the 2016-17 NBA Dunk of the Year

Oladipo’s dunk beat out Larry Nance of the Los Angeles Lakers and Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the award.

Oladipo’s two-hand slam right in the eyes of Atlanta’s Dwight Howard in December in Atlanta saw the crowd come to their feet.

Oladipo, who used two hands to slam on Atlanta’s Dwight Howard back in December, edged out Lakers’ forward Larry Nance and Minnesota guard Zach Lavine for the award.

It is the first time in Thunder history a player has won this fan award.

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A road trip to No. 42

Russell Westbrook has tied/topped history and it’s been one hell of a ride to get there. Here is a road trip through the season and the ups and downs of Russell Westbrook’s journey.


32 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists

Just opening day and Russell Westbrook was already flirting with a triple-double. There wasn’t anyone at the time who really thought Westbrook would ascend to No. 41. However, this was really just a glimpse of what was to come.


51 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists

Oklahoma City needed every bit of Westbrook’s heroics on this night. Without Westbrook going into God mode, the Thunder get beat by a bad Phoenix team at home. It would have caused a meltdown in Bricktown. At the time, it was the first 50-point triple-double since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it on Jan. 19, 1975.


33 points, 11 rebounds, 16 assists

Westbrook scored his second triple-double of the season in only 24 minutes. He contributed  33 points in the game as the Thunder destroyed the Lakers. No. 2 came much easier than No. 1 came. It was Westbrook’s second career triple-double against the Lakers.


41 points, 12 rebounds, 16 assists

It was Westbrook’s first triple-double in six games, Westbrook’s longest non-triple double streak of the season. It was a bit all for naught though as the Thunder fell and it was the first time Oklahoma City had lost in a Westbrook triple-double since April 5, 2015.


30 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists

This was the first time someone shouted Westbrook was a stat stuffer as he checked back into a blow out game and recorded his fourth triple-double of the season late in the contest, but it still counts.


31 points, 11 rebounds, 15 assists

Bad Russ showed up and showed out as the Thunder fall to the Pacers in overtime. Oklahoma City trailed by as many as 15 in the contest and Westbrook shot poorly. He also turned it over a lot, leading to a game worst minus-18.


36 points, 11 rebounds, 17 assists

In what was one of the most complete performances from Westbrook on the sharing of the ball. He dished out 17 assists, which at the time was the second highest of his career. Westbrook fueled Oklahoma City to a massive come back and a squeaking win over the Nuggets. This would be the first of seven in a row for Russ.


17 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists

After getting embarrassed in Detroit earlier in the month, Oklahoma City and Westbrook showed the Pistons how it was done. Westbrook had his second straight triple-double, doing it only 29 minutes.


27 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists

Something about the Knicks is like a drug for Westbrook. It was his second career triple-double vs. the Knicks and moved him to his 45th of his career as the Thunder beat the Knicks, really coming back from that 3-game losing streak in mid-November.


35 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists

This game went to overtime and Westbrook who struggled found a way to help Oklahoma City win in overtime. His five turnovers and 23 missed shots didn’t help the Thunder in the squeaker.


28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists

Anthony Davis? No problem for Russell Westbrook. He dished out 12 assists and pulled down a game high 17 rebounds. It was his sixth straight game with at least 11 rebounds, along with his fifth straight triple-double. Oklahoma City had no won five in a row.


32 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists

Westbrook only turned it over four times, his lowest in two weeks, as Oklahoma City beat the Atlanta Hawks on the road. Thabo Sefolosha was quoted in saying he thinks Westbrook should be the MVP.


27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists

Another loss and the end of a streak. This loss gave Westbrook his seventh straight triple-double. Oklahoma City though, fell to the Houston Rockets as Westbrook struggled from the floor, going 0-of-7 from three.


26 points, 11 rebounds, 22 assists

A career high 22 assists for Westbrook as the Thunder pummeled the lowly Suns in a packed Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City had lost three of four so it was nice to see the Thunder get back on the winning track. Westbrook grabbed his 10th rebound for the triple-double right in the early part of the fourth.


45 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists

It had been almost four years since the Celtics gave up a triple-double but it was Westbrook who ended that streak. His 45 points were spectacular as he as 5-of-7 from three and only turned it over four times.

#15: DEC. 27 AT MIAMI

29 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists

Winning in Miami hasn’t always been breezy for the Thunder, but Oklahoma City did it behind Westbrook’s 15th triple-double of the season. Oklahoma City had led for a majority of the game and really took it to Dion Waiters and the Miami Heat.


17 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists

Oklahoma City demolished the Clippers on New Year’s Even and Westbrook didn’t even play 30 minutes. His triple-double came in only 18:44, second fastest of his career and only the second fastest time in NBA history.


32 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists

Westbrook once again found himself in a triple-double against the conference foe Denver Nuggets. Westbrook once again was amazing as he nailed 7-of-12 from deep as his first triple-double of the new year came in under 27 minutes.


24 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists

In the first game since Memphis ran the score up, Westbrook came out on fire. He pulled down another triple-double and the Thunder won pretty easily over Memphis. The Thunder led by as many as 12 It was Westbrook’s first career triple-double against the Grizzlies.


21 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists

Westbrook once again saw a glimpse of bad Russ in their loss to Minnesota. Coming into the season, Oklahoma City had only four career losses when Westbrook triple-doubled. However, the loss to Minnesota was his fourth loss of the season.


36 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists

Westbrook found his game again and the Thunder found their winning ways. It was Westbrook’s third straight triple-double. It was also the second time this season Westbrook had triple-doubles in three or more straight games.


27 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists

Kevin Durant be damned. Russell Westbrook did his best to push Oklahoma City to an upset win over the Warriors, even cutting it to single digits as he unloaded a barrage of free throws in the second half. The Thunder would fall but Westbrook at this point had almost reached the pace of 41 triple-doubles.

#22 JAN. 23 AT UTAH

38 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists

Against a division foe, Westbrook lit up in the fourth quarter, hitting another last second shot putting Oklahoma City in the sights of victory. He finished with 38 points but none was more sweeter than the game winner. Oklahoma City stunned Utah, who had demolished Oklahoma City earlier in the season.


27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists

Westbrook did three things with his triple-double over the Pelicans. He was now on pace for Oscar Robertson’s record. He gave Oklahoma City back-to-back wins for the first time in over two weeks, and it was Westbrook’s second triple-double vs. the Pelicans this season.


20 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists

The Thunder lost to the Cavs but Westbrook was the winner. He pulled down his seventh triple-double in his last nine games. Also, the Cavs were just another team on the list of never hads before. The Cavs would fall again just a week or so later.


38 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists

Oklahoma City put on a show against the Grizzlies as Westbrook dropped almost 40 on Memphis. Westbrook’s 17-of-17 from the free throw line was a career high as Oklahoma City won by 12. Westbrook had fallen off pace of the 41-mark by this point.


29 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists

Russell Westbrook finally took down Kyrie and LeBron on his own. He scored 29 points, the triple-double and the victory. His pace for the record had continue to fall off as this was his first triple-double in thre games.


38 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists

Oklahoma City had lost three of four and needed this win like they needed air to breathe. Westbrook’s third career triple-double against New York, and second this season, was masterful. Oklahoma City set themselves, and Westbrook up for a great run in the second half of the season.

#28 FEB. 24 VS. LAKERS

17 points, 18 rebounds, 17 assists

Very linear game for Westbrook in a 35-minute performance over the Lakers. His triple-double came within 20 minutes and the Thunder needed it as they had only led by their largest at 13 points. Oklahoma City ran away with it at the end. Westbrook had reached the pace of 41 triple-doubles again.


41 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists

Every now and then, Westbrook does some things that make you realize how special he is. His 41 points powered Oklahoma City to their third straight victory and his third straight triple-double. Even more impressive, he was now ahead of the 41-game pace of the triple-double.

#30 FEB. 28 VS. UTAH

43 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists

Westbrook did it again vs. the Jazz. Oklahoma City needed him and the man with the clutch gene came through. It was the second 40-point triple-double for Westbrook. It would be the second of Westbrook’s four 40-point game run as Oklahoma City had now won four in a row.


23 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists

Then there were two. As the Spurs fell from the list of teams of had nevers, Oklahoma City showed how good they were with Taj Gibson in the lineup. Oklahoma City beat the Spurs and Westbrook nabbed his 31st triple-double of the season.


33 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists

Before the season, Westbrook had never triple-doubled vs. Utah. After March, it had been done three times this season. Overall, it may be the Jazz are a better team than the Thunder, but there is no one on the Jazz better than Westbrook and it showed.


25 points, 12 rebounds, 19 assists

Tally up Westbrook’s second triple-double against the Nets this season. Oklahoma City obliterated the Nets and Westbrook caught MVP chants from the crowd at Barclays. His 19 assists tied for second highest of his career.


24 points, 10 rebounds, 16 assists

In what was his fourth straight game with at least 13 assists, Westbrook thrusted himself right in the mix of the triple-double average streak. It helped they destroyed a really good Toronto team, too. Westbrook was only seven away from tying Robertson’s record.


18 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists

He may have missed one at the beginning of the season, he wasn’t going to miss it on this night. Westbrook corralled a triple-double in only 23 minutes. Oklahoma City opened the second half on a 19-4 run to beat the 76ers.


39 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists

The Oklahoma City Thunder may have lost the battle, bad, but it was Russell Westbrook who won the war. Westbrook outdueled Harden and almost solidified himself as the MVP despite the Thunder losing. He was the main reason Oklahoma City was even so close.


37 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists

In a game that will go down in Thunder history, Westbrook outscored Dallas 14-0 to end the game and hit the game winner that sent Oklahoma City to their seventh win in nine attempts. His 37 points were magnificient.


57 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists

If you would have told me Westbrook would have the highest triple-double of all-time, I would believe you and Oklahoma City needed it all. He nailed a last second shot to send the game to overtime and he took over. His 57-point triple-double is the most in a triple-double in NBA history.


32 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists

Oklahoma City couldn’t hold the lead. The Spurs and Kawhi Leonard flexed their muscles but Westbrook grabbed his fourth straight triple-double. His 39th triple-double and it wasn’t even April. He was now on the door step of history.


40 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists

Oklahoma City never really were in this one and that’s a credit to the Hornets. However, Westbrook got his triple-double, his first ever against the Hornets. It wasn’t enough as Charlotte handed the Thunder back-to-back losses.


12 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists

History made for the great one. Russell Westbrook did it and the Peake let Westbrook know their admiration for him. He rose a hand as he saluted the crowd, letting his guard down for only a moment. 41 triple-doubles. A record that no one thought would ever be touched. A calm kid from Lawndale did it.


50 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists

Another 50-point triple-double for the record. Oklahoma City was saved by Westbrook’s heroics on his 30-foot buzzer beater. Oklahoma City won and the NBA won with this game. This game was the epitome of everything Westbrook has done this season. We love that man.

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