Tag - NBA

10 Kyle Singler Trade Scenarios

He’s your lovable hipster that can rock a man bun better than the Starbucks barista. However, while he doesn’t play, the Thunder’s Kyle Singler is a rotting log that takes up $4.7 million. His percentages aren’t great so fans are fed up with the former Duke Blue Devil.

I think most people are just salty because Singler makes almost as much as Josh Huestis, Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant ($4,780,687).

So, the best thing to do is to trade the man. He’s never panned out to what the Thunder hoped He was expected to be a spot up three-point shooter as he was in Detroit. Some players just struggle with adjustment and Singler is one of those.

Who wants Singler’s salary and playing ability, or lack there of? I’ve used the ESPN Trade Machine to trade Singler to 10 different NBA teams. Here are a few pointers before you have a mental breakdown:

  • Some of them are real, some are not. I’m sure you can figure which ones aren’t real.
  • Factors into the non-real ones: Salaries only. That’s it.
  • I had fun.

All right, that’s out of the way, let’s have some fun.

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Thunder Game Day No. 45: vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Oklahoma City Thunder (24-20, (15-7 home) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (15-28, 6-14 away)

Wednesday, Jan. 17 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
Coverage: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 9½-point underdog. The over/under is 216½.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Lakers: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • You can beat Kings and the Hornets and that should be enough to take on the Los Angeles Lakers. Oklahoma City and LA for a chilly showdown at the Peake.
  • Oklahoma City has rebounded from losing three-in-a-row with nice, decent wins over Charlotte and Sacramento.
  • The Lakers will be without Lonzo Ball in the lineup tonight. The Lakers are 0-7 without the No. 2 draft pick in the lineup. They’re still sub-.500 with him in the lineup.
  • Oklahoma City beat the Lakers in their first meeting 133-99.
  • The Thunder have won 10 straight home games against the Lakers, dating back to 2011.

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 ESPN, for those not in the Thunder market or just don’t like listening to Brian Davis.

SCOUTING THE LAKERS

  • The Los Angeles Lakers are 15-28 on the season, 12th in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, LA is 4-6. They are 4-1 in their last five games.
  • In their all-time series, the Lakers lead the series 140-103 over Oklahoma City.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder are 20-12 against the Lakers.
  • When games are played at the Peake, the Thunder are 11-4 against the Lakers.
  • Oklahoma City has won 10 in a row against the Lakers at home.
  • The Lakers fell to the Grizzlies on Jan. 15 by a score of 123-114.
  • In the last meeting between OKC and LA, the Thunder won 133-99.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Lonzo Ball (knee) is out.
    Brandon Ingram (ankle) is a game-time decision.
    Larry Nance Jr. (hip) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Los Angeles came on Dec. 19, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 118-78 (40-point margin of victory). Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (18 points) vs. the Lakers occurred during an 107-89 loss on March 24, 2009.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is questionable (left patellar tendonitis) for tonight’s game.

Lakers name

  • How many natural lakes are there in Los Angeles? The short answer: Less than 10,000.
  • When a pair of investors relocated the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League to Minneapolis before the 1947 season, they sought a name that would ring true with the team’s new home.
  • Given that Minnesota is “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” they settled on Lakers.
  • When the Lakers moved to Los Angeles before the 1960 season, their nickname was retained, in part because of the tradition the team had established in Minnesota.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will  travel to Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
  • Then, Oklahoma City comes home for two more games, with the Nets and Wizards.



Three Keys to the Game

Third quarter

Win the third quarter. When the Thunder win the third quarter, they’re 13-1. When they lose, they’re 11-19 on the year. So, win the third quarter and you win the game. It’s pretty simple as that. Especially as the quarter has been the thorn in the side of Oklahoma City all season long.

Lawler’s Law

The Lakers aren’t a very defensive team, they’re giving up 110.5 points per game, second worst in the NBA. For that reason, when the Lakers score under 100 points, they’re 2-12. That’s key for the Thunder. Gotta hit 100 and keep the Lakers from doing that.

Rebound

The Oklahoma City Thunder have rebounded well lately but they’ll have to do it again tonight. Oklahoma City is 18-6 when they can grab more boards than their opponent.

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Thunder steal one against Kings 95-88

The energy and play in the first half was apathetic at best. The play and the score reflected as so. However, even after falling behind by nine in the second half, the Oklahoma City Thunder fought back for a nice 95-88 win over the lowly Sacramento Kings on a frigid Monday night.

The Thunder improved to 24-20 on the season and have won back-to-back games, securing a strong hold on fifth place in the Western Conference.

The Thunder rallied from a 15-point first half deficit on the backs of the big three in their own ways. Despite Westbrook’s plethora of first half turnovers, if it wasn’t for him, the first half deficit of only six could’ve been 14. In the second half it was Carmelo Anthony and Paul George who finished with 20 and 18 points, respectively, fueling the Thunder’s comeback.

The Thunder trailed the Kings (13-30) at the break 54-48.

Oklahoma City’s defense held the Kings to 30.9 percent in the second half from the floor. It’s in stark contrast as 48 percent allowed in the first half.

Sacramento took a 58-49 lead with less than 40 seconds into the second half. It appeared it was going to be a replay of the first half. A Westbrook driving lay up, followed by three-pointers by Anthony and George tied the game up at 61-all with 7:15 left in the quarter.

Anthony hit a three to give Oklahoma City a 64-61 lead and their first lead in what felt like forever. Steven Adams cutting to the rim to give the Thunder a 68-66 lead with 4:18 remaining. Oklahoma City would never trail again.

A 41-16 run for the Thunder capped off the comeback in the face of the adversity they’ve struggled against all season.

With 2:51 left in the game, Westbrook was popped with two quick technical fouls, ejecting him from the contest. Westbrook was complaining about being hit in the face on a play where he was called for traveling. Official matt Boland T’d him quickly as the Thunder led 91-77.

Shortly after the Westbrook ejection, the NBA’s youngest official, Gediminas Petraitis, popped Billy Donovan with a technical foul. After the dust settled, the Thunder only led 91-83 with 2:51. The Thunder’s defense held the Kings to only one made bucket the final three minutes of the game.

After both the Thunder and Kings couldn’t score in the first 3:16 of the fourth, the Thunder responded to a Willie Cauley-Stein bucket with back-to-back Patrick Patterson three-pointers. Alex Abrines capped off the run with an 86-70 lead with 7:11 left in the game.

Oklahoma City will host the Los Angeles Lakers (15-28) on Wednesday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN, so those outside of the Thunder TV market will get to watch this one. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Keys to the Game

Defend the three: A

Oklahoma City held the Kings to 7-of-29 from the arc, including 3-of-14 in the second half. The Thunder’s ability to defend the perimeter really paid off. It’s a large part in why the Thunder were able to win this one.

Bench: B

Oklahoma City’s bench scored 23 points, including 10 from from Patterson, a season high. The key plays at the beginning of the fourth were instrumental in how Oklahoma City was able to extend the their lead at a crucial juncture in the contest.

Big Three: C

While the Big three combined for 57 of the 95 points, their first half performance earns them a C overall. It was a bad F in the first half. However, Anthony’s ability to contribute and Westbrook persistence really helped this team. They all can play better and must play better.

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Thunder Game Day No. 44: vs. Sacramento Kings

Oklahoma City Thunder (23-20, (14-7 home) vs. Sacramento Kings (13-29, 6-16 away)

Monday, Jan. 15 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 11½-point underdog. The over/under is 209.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Kings: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • As the Thunder found the winning way once again, they’ll welcome the Sacramento Kings into Bricktown as they’re carrying the worst record in the NBA.
  • Oklahoma City beat Charlotte 101-91 on Saturday afternoon to end a three-game losing streak.
  • The Thunder were waxed by the Kings back in November 94-86.
  • Sacramento has lost four in a row and haven’t won a road game since Dec. 20 in Brooklyn.

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).

SCOUTING THE KINGS

  • The Sacramento Kings are 13-29 on the season, worst in the Western Conference.
  • The Kings in their last 10 games are 2-8, they’ve lost four in a row.
  • The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006, second longest streak behind Minnesota.
  • In their last game, Sacramento were blown out by the L.A. Clippers 126-105 on Saturday.
  • In their series last season, Oklahoma City went 2-1 vs. the Kings.
  • Overall, Oklahoma City is 142-86 against Sacramento.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder are 26-8 vs. the Kings.
  • Oklahoma City is 15-1 all-time at home vs. Sacramento, the lone loss came last season.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Harry Giles (knee) is out.
    Frank Mason III (heel) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Sacramento came on Feb. 15, 2011, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 126-96 (30-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. the Kings occurred during an 83-104 loss on Jan. 7, 2015.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will host the Lakers on Wednesday night and then travel to Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
  • Then, Oklahoma City comes home for two more games, with the Nets and Wizards.



Three Keys to the Game

Defend the three

The Kings are second lowest in the NBA in threes taken per game at just under 23 attempts per game. They’re efficient. A top five shooting team and that’s where Oklahoma City has to excel tonight. In their first meeting the Kings shot 38 percent, hitting nine three-pointers. Cannot allow that again.

Bench

Oklahoma City’s bench ranks 29th in the NBA in points contributed per game. They’re averaging 23.9 points per game. If Paul George is not able to go, the Thunder will have to find a way to get someone on the bench to step up like Raymond Felton did in the fourth quarter against the Hornets.

Big Three

When you play top echelon teams like the Timberwolves, yeah that’s still weird typing that, you have to show up and show out. For Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all three will have to be on their A games tonight. If they’re not, the Thunder will be answering questions once again about how Westbrook left the arena without talking to media again.

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Why Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is important for Oklahoma

Today Americans remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We will remember his fight, his dream, his tragedy. Today we will also be dazzled, awed and entertained by the athletic exploits of fantastic NBA players like Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

While we sit cheering in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, or in our own homes with eyes glued to the TV screen, the importance of today must not be forgotten.

The life and works of Dr. King have been romanticized and ingrained into our cultural psyche so much that you would be hard pressed to meet someone who has not heard the words, “I have a dream…” By now, these words are as American as “Oh, say can you see,” or Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father.

So, on this national holiday commemorating solidarity, tragedy, and civil rights, what does basketball have to do with any of it? More specifically, why–in Oklahoma–is it important that basketball be played today?

Let me first commit the writing sin of putting myself in the article. If you’ve heard our ‘Peake & Roll Podcast, you know my story. I have lived all over the map due to being an Air Force brat, and have been fortunate to meet and see many different people and places. I always knew however, no matter where I was in the world, that Oklahoma was my home.

With that knowledge came some hard truths, some factual and others downright ignorant.

Yes, Oklahoma is sometimes referred to as a “fly-over” state. It lies in the middle of the country with no exotic beaches, no media-heavy metropolises, no ultra-desirable climate bringing outsiders in droves. Oklahoma is also, according to the 2010 U.S Census, 72 percent white. Having been recognized as a state post-Civil War, I once thought–as many people I know still do–that Oklahoma is somehow only proxy or tangential to the major Civil Rights events.

It is true that the history of Civil Rights in Oklahoma is not as well-known as monumental events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the murder of Emmett Till. Even to a native like me, some of these historical events that involved the harsh and brutal treatment of black men, women, and children in Oklahoma are not well-known. But that does not mean they did not happen, or that it is acceptable to remain ignorant of them. King died for his dream. The least we can do is live with his reality.

I encourage many of you to check out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s book Writings on the Wall.

In the book, Abdul-Jabbar quotes The History Boys, his favorite movie. Though the author and former NBA player was not referring to MLK day, his chosen quote seems particularly apt for this day as well:

..there is no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it.”

Some may view Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a date on the calendar. An extra day off work. A day to sit and enjoy a game. A reminder of the poor treatment of black-Americans in other states years ago. A day where we try to forget the terrible past in a feeble attempt to move forward.

Contrary to my ignorance earlier in life, Oklahoma has a rich history of Civil Rights events. Both tragedies and important wins. Let’s not forget them.

1921: the Tulsa Race Massacr. A deplorable mark on our state’s history that incurred the murder of as many as 300 Tulsans and left over 10,000 homeless, according to the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, OK.

1958: a sit-in organized by a local school teacher named Clara Luper at the Katz Drug Store at 200 W Main in Oklahoma City saw 13 of her school children courageously endure verbal threats, slurs and physical attacks in a non-violent act of protest. After two days of alternating turns at the counter, an employee finally served a hamburger to one of the kids, which opened the door for desegregation.

1961: the Dowell v. School Board of Oklahoma City Public Schools lawsuit in which Alphonso Dowell took legal action to allow his son, Robert, to attend Northeast High School.

These are but three examples. However, most of these I did not learn of through schools or any official histories. What else is there? How can we know? There are certainly countless testimonies of experiences from black Oklahomans that have been forgotten or kept silent. It is important to acknowledge those voices with Oklahoman kindness and compassion, lest we forget.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day does not solely apply to the South. It is not exclusive to large, urban areas like Chicago, New York City or Los Angeles. It is an American holiday that applies to Americans, no matter the color of your skin or your cultural background. It applies to Oklahoma and Oklahomans, too.

What the NBA does by playing games on this day is bring awareness. This is a league that is populated by 74 percent black players, and 82 percent players of color according to the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Many of whom have experienced prejudice in both direct and more subtle ways. While basketball is entertainment for fans, it is important to remember that is a league played by human beings with real experiences.

I challenge you to think.

Read the state’s local history and engage with your neighbors and fellow Thunder fans. Help bring about a better understanding of the state’s past with its black citizens and residents of color so that future generations can be spared the ignorance many of us grew up with today and never repeat these tragedies.

Look no further than NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s comments in a recent piece fromESPN. “Sports continue to be a unique opportunity to unite people, and it is a place where there is a rare sense of equality,” Silver said speaking to reporters at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, “The 50th anniversary of King’s death is an impetus to continue pushing forward.”

Lastly, this piece is not here to shame anyone.

No one should look to the past in shame, for if you categorize your community’s history as such it could prove difficult to push forward, improve and become a better person/community as a result. This includes whites, blacks… simply Oklahomans.

By commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, in addition to enjoying the Thunder take on the Sacramento Kings, let us not forget that there is still work to be done by all of us.

Basketball has brought us together. Now let’s take the home court advantage and become a better people as a result.

 

 

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Thunder Game Day No. 43: at Charlotte Hornets

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-20, 8-13 away) vs. Charlotte Hornets (16-24, 11-11 home)

Saturday, Jan. 13 :: 4:00 p.m. CST :: Sepctrum Center (20,200)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 1½-point underdog. The over/under is 210.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Hornets: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The temperature may be low in Oklahoma City today but the demeanor and the will of the Thunder is equally as low as they roll into the Queens City to take on the Charlotte Hornets.
  • It’s been déjà vu as the Thunder have been struggling immensely since the loss of Andre Roberson to injury. the All-Defensive player will miss today’s game, too.
  • Charlotte waxed the Thunder a little over a month ago 116-103 at the Peake. A barrage of threes in the third quarter put the Thunder out of their misery.
  • Oklahoma City has lost three in a row for the third time this season. They’re looking to avoid their second four-game losing streak.

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).

SCOUTING THE HORNETS

  • The Charlotte Hornets are 16-24 on the season, 11th in the Eastern Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Hornets are 5-5.
  • In their last game, the Hornets beat the Utah Jazz 99-88 in Utah in the first game of their back-to-back.
  • All-time, Oklahoma City is 36-18 against Charlotte.
  • When you break it down between Hornets and Bobcats, the Thunder are 4-3 against the Hornets and 9-2 against the Bobcats.
  • Last season, the Charlotte Hornets swept the Thunder, winning both games by double digits.
  • Charlotte won the first meeting against Oklahoma City 116-103 on Dec. 11.
  • Oklahoma City is 11-3 in their last 13 games against the Hornets.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Cody Zeller (knee) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Charlotte came on Nov. 26, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 114-69 (45-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (13 points) vs. Charlotte occurred during a 116-103 loss on Dec. 11, 2017.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder return home for four games in five games.



Three Keys to the Game

Jeremy Lamb

This might be Paul George or Andre Roberson’s call. The Hornets are 4-15 when Jeremy Lamb scores 15 points or less. Lamb has only done it once over the last seven games. That explains how Charlotte is 3-1 in the last four games as Lamb has done this.

Bench

Oklahoma City’s bench ranks 29th in the NBA in points contributed per game. They’re averaging 23.9 points per game. If Paul George is not able to go, the Thunder will have to find a way to get someone on the bench to step up. They didn’t really step up on Thursday. We’ll see

Big Three

When you play top echelon teams like the Timberwolves, yeah that’s still weird typing that, you have to show up and show out. For Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all three will have to be on their A games tonight. If they’re not, the Thunder will be answering questions once again about how Westbrook left the arena without talking to media again.

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With more opportunities, Abrines has yet to take next step

Alex Abrines has long been a favored piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder and when the Thunder’s General Manager Sam Presti selected the promising Spanish shooter in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Thunder believed they had found their dazzling guard in the vein of a Manu Ginobli. Oklahoma City’s dealings with Abrines, or lack thereof, prove as much.

There have been opportunities to move Abrines over the years. With the NBA evolving to a more perimeter based game, even raw, stashed talents like Abrines could have been an intriguing bargaining chip for most GM’s. Still the Thunder remained committed to their pick.

Their commitment and strong belief in the young guard may be starting to show some cracks.

With Tuesday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers signaling the numerical halfway point of the regular season, Abrines’ lack of progress has raised some questions among Thunder fans on if the shooting specialist has a future with the franchise.

It is no newsflash that second year players will play more than they did in their rookie campaigns. Abrines is no different. However, with the extra opportunities, the positive return has yet to come for the Spanish guard.

In 40 games thus far, Abrines has logged a total of 567 minutes and shot 39 percent from the floor (38 percent from three). Compare that to his first 40 games last season where Abrines played nearly 100 less minutes (477 minutes) and shot 42 percent from the floor and 36 percent from beyond the arc.

Abrines actually had more field goal attempts in those first 40 games of 2016-17 (147 attempts) than this season where he has shot 134 times. His three point attempts are down this season from last, 116-94.

Billy Donovan has also trusted Abrines more so than in his first year. In the 69 games, the first 40 last season and this entire year, Abrines saw the floor for 25-plus minutes only eight times. Six of those opportunities have come this year. Most notably his career-high 42 minutes logged against the Memphis Grizzlies, which also saw him drop a career-best 20 points.

Comparing these two sample sizes draws the conclusion that with more trust and opportunities, Abrines has been unable to take that next step in his development.

Even if you stretch out the sample size to his entire career with Oklahoma City, Abrines only logged 25-plus minutes five more times after the 40 game mark last year. Still below his total in 2017-18.

Of course, it is important to remember that Abrines did not have a true preseason as he was dealing with an injury.

“It’s been hard for Alex,” Donovan said. “I don’t think he’s in rhythm. Physically, he’s still trying to get back to where he was maybe a year ago. I think for people that watched him play last year, they can see that he’s not really physically the same level he was at.”

While Donovan is right to an extent, the opportunities have been plentiful for Abrines. With a roster that now includes Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and subsequent role changes for the rest of the team, the numerical opportunities are also mirrored by the “open-look” opportunities caused by having better teammates.

With higher team expectations, and a desperate need for scoring off the bench, at some point Abrines has to be better.

This is all paramount as the Feb. 8 trade deadline looms large. Presti and the Thunder have traditionally been very active as a franchise. While Abrines was always an untouchable in trade scenarios in the past, with those higher expectations, that tag has been removed by some.

It will be interesting to see how active Oklahoma City is for the deadline.

With a stacked roster, the Thunder have historically been reluctant to make any big moves via trade. The Finals team in 2011-12 was silent on the trade deadline, opting to add veteran free-agent Derek Fisher. The 60-win team the following year saw a similar course of action. Kevin Durant’s final year also saw the Thunder go the veteran free agent route.

The rosters that needed help due to youth or injury, the 2010-11 squad, 2014-15 and last year’s team, all saw the Thunder make big moves via trade, Kendrick Perkins, Dion Waiters/Enes Kanter and Taj Gibson/Doug McDermott respectively.

How Presti sees and foresees this roster will be the deciding factor. It has been reported that the Thunder will not seek to move Paul George at the deadline which opens the door for other trade scenarios, maybe some involving Abrines.

While the franchise still values Abrines and has high hopes for the Euro guard, it is undeniable that year two has been a disappointment for a plethora of reasons. Higher expectations and a lack of quick development may force Presti’s hand. Specifically, that opportunity will be there if a trade is desired.

There is still plenty of time for Abrines to bounce back. Donovan is right in that with more consistency, Abrines can bounce back and perhaps take that leap in development that many foresaw. Critiquing his game and future with the added consistency would also be more fair.

“I think he is moving in the right direction,” Donovan said during the Trailblazers pregame. “Coming off the road trip, he hasn’t been able to practice much but we will see how the game goes from here.”

The future with a talented roster, higher expectations and the ever active Sam Presti as GM open the door for many possibilities. Some that may include Abrines.

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Five Thoughts 1-9-18 (Blazers 117, Thunder 106)

Five Thoughts 1-9-18 (Blazers 117, Thunder 106)

1. If you read the site, you know I do my best to stay away from hyperbole and overreaction in the moment. So I don’t feel the least bit of trepidation saying that this was the worst loss of the season. Unfortunately, there are a lot to choose from, but this one ranks at the top for me because it comes after a period when it appeared this kind of play was behind us. I didn’t like the listless effort in Phoenix on Sunday, but considering they won the other two games on the trip I could brush that off as the guys perhaps having a little too much leisure time and playing flat at the end of week long trip. Call it a lousy night and move on. But you can only brush aside a lousy effort if you following it up with a good one. If you toss out an even MORE lousy performance two days later (at home, against a team missing their best player) well, then you might just be, lousy.

2. Defense was atrocious. Obviously they miss Andre Roberson badly in this department as there is a very clear drop off when he is out. He came out of the Milwaukee game very late and wasn’t on the court for the final possession when Giannis Antetokounmpo beat Josh Huestis baseline (albeit while stepping out of bounds). So our defense literally started to cave the instant he got hurt. And it has been garbage ever since. Tonight was just awful because Portland got whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted. Inside, outside, downtown, uptown, left, right, from Guthrie to Norman. Whatever. It’s fine if your defense takes a hit when you subtract your best defender. It’s expected actually. But the Thunder should have enough in the tank to not just get run over by the Suns and Blazers. Really pathetic. Roberson can’t get back fast enough. I hope everyone that trashes him has been enjoying the turnstile routine the last few games.

3. As always with Russ his weakness is the same as his greatness. And it’s often hard to figure out where one stops and the other starts. It was a Tuesday night the second week in January, game No. 40. To start the evening I thought nine of the 10 players on the court were fairy content to demonstrate that it was a Tuesday night the second week in January, game No. 40. Not necessarily a poor effort from anyone. But 90 percent of the guys out there seemed content to let the game slowly play out, figure out the pace, etc. But that 10%. Man, he just doesn’t do “pace.” Russ was a Tasmanian Devil from the opening tip. He was absolutely frantic. The reason Russ is Russ is because that’s what he does. No off nights. No going through motions. But tonight it manifested itself in some very sloppy play early. He’s going 110 MPH while his teammates are doing 75. That will cause some traffic issues. Moreover, it starts to force all 9 other guys to pick it up. It sort of lights a fire under the opponent as well. About midway tough the first quarter tonight, the intensity picked up. Both teams were responding to Russ. Sometimes going through the motions might be better. I’ll never rip Russ too much for this because you can’t pick and choose when to love it and when to hate it. But it would be beneficial if RUSS learned to pick and choose a bit more.

4. Bench is all kinds of messed up right now. It’s just terrible. Felton is the only guy playing at an acceptable NBA level. Grant has slowly dipped and is now looking like a borderline rotational guy. Just not a ton of options remaining unless Donovan wants to give Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, and Dakari Johnson longer looks— and I don’t think anyone views any of those guys as a long term solution to anything. It will help when Andre returns, but I’ll continue to bang that trade drum. Presti needs to be looking.

5. First half of the season is officially over. It wasn’t good. The second quarter was better than the first, so improvement is nice. But the second quarter ended with a thud, losing four out of six including three in a row at home. I’d grade the Thunder a C-minus for the first half of this year. The second quarter I would give them a B-minus so that tells you all you need to know about the first quarter. Their inability to beat middling to poor teams was exasperating. They would be right there with the Spurs, if not the Rockets, had they just taken care of half of those losses against bad teams. The upside to the first half would be that they flashed the potential to be great. They played far better against the better teams and their defense in particular against good competition was excellent. The offense looks more fluid than it did early as well. Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony all seem to be far more settled now than they were at the start of December. I wanted 9-5 in January. 2-2 thus far, so still attainable. Speaking more specifically about the second half, I am not overly worried about the win total. I’d like for them to get to 50 wins. That would require a 28-13 record from here on out, or a six-game improvement in the second half over the first half. Seems like a long shot, but if they keep up their December pace that’s right about where they will wind up. Really hoping these last two miserable outings are random outliers and not a sign of things to come. Pretty massive game in Minnesota tomorrow. It’s a good way to get the second half started. Or, at least, it can be.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.
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Andre Roberson’s absence more to blame than coaching

It’s easy to blame the head coach. He’s the one who draws up the plays, sets the line up and configures the game plan to stop an opposing team. Often, he’s the scapegoat of many excuses. However, as the Thunder struggle over the last six games.

Like most losing streaks, there is a correlation to what’s happening. This one is defense. Over the last six games, the Oklahoma City Thunder are allowing 109.5 points per game. That’s including allowing at least 114 points in four of their last five.

This isn’t Billy Donovan’s fault. There’s only so much he can do to get players to close out on shooters. It’s been proven when this team is healthy, they’re very good. They’re down right one of the top three teams in the NBA when they’re all together. That’s the correlation.

Over the last five games, there has been one real common denominator: No Andre Roberson.

You can complain about his offense all you want. You can cry about his free throw shooting in your adult beverage or chocolate milk (maybe both if you’re cool) but there is no arguing how good of a defender Roberson has become.

His ability to defend the team’s best perimeter shooter goes unmatched. Sure, Paul George is a quality defender and considered one of the best three-and-D players in the league but when it comes to pure lock down ability, not many rival Roberson.

Of every player in the NBA that has played in at least 20 games and plays at least 20 minutes per game, which is a 209 players (46.4 percent of the entire NBA), Andre Roberson is the No. 1 defender in the NBA with a defensive rating of 96.5. That means, Roberson is allowing only 96.5 points per 100 possessions he’s on the floor.

You flip that around, the Thunder without Roberson have been down right atrocious. While they’re 3-4 without him in the lineup, Oklahoma City is allowing 108.9 points per 100, worst on the team. That equates to 110.1 points per game. That’s a huge change from the 99.3 points per game with him in the lineup.

The defense becomes vanilla and in the NBA, you need to be Neapolitan. You have to be able to throw different shades of defensive changes. The switching and the deflections, which are significantly down without Roberson in the line up, are missing.

You can question paying players over others but at $10 million per season, Roberson has become a steal. For the Thunder, Roberson is the missing piece in an ecosystem that’s ever so fragile. Even one piece out of alignment and it all comes crashing down.

The Thunder need Roberson back sooner than later. The longer he sits out, the more questions about the holes in the defense Oklahoma City will have to answer.

It’s not Donovan’s fault Roberson is hurt. There’s questionable decision making that happens throughout all NBA games.

One thing up for question isn’t where Oklahoma City is 19 wins with him and only three without.

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Thunder Game Day No. 41: vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-18, 14-6 home) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (21-18, 11-8 away)

Tuesday, Jan. 9 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
Coverage: NBATV  (DirecTV 216, Cox 37/756, AT&T U-Verse 754/632, Dish 416/156 (9508 HD)
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 8-point favorite. The over/under is 204½.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Blazers: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • A disappointing loss to Phoenix sends the Oklahoma City Thunder home looking to right the ship against the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers for a short interruption of a road trip.
  • Oklahoma City is 3-6 in their last nine games against Portland. However, the Thunder are 4-1 when they’ve played Portland at home in their last five games.
  • The Thunder only sit a half-game ahead of Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race, winner will control fourth place.
  • The Trail Blazers, without Lillard, has won back-to-back games. That includes a win over the always tough San Antonio Spurs.

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).
  • If you’re not in the Oklahoma City market, tonight’s game is on NBA TV.

SCOUTING THE BLAZERS

  • The Portland Trail Blazers are 21-18 on the season, sixth in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Blazers are 5-5.
  • That said, Portland has won back-to-back games, including beating the San Antonio Spurs.
  • The Trail Blazers have spent a lot of time beating up on the bad teams, they’re only 9-15 against teams with winning records.
  • In their last meeting, Portland beat the Thunder 103-99 in Portland on Nov. 5.
  • Overall, the Thunder lead the head-to-head series with Portland 116-113.
  • Since moving from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 18-19 against Porltand, one of the few Western Conference teams with a winning record over the Thunder.
  • When games are played at the Peake, Oklahoma City is 11-7.
  • Injury Report:
    Damian Lillard (right calf strain) is OUT.
    C.J. Wilcox (knee) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Portland came on March 24, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 103-83 (20-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (35 points) vs. Portland occurred during a 107-72 loss on April 3, 2009.

WHAT’S IN THE SUNS NAME?

  • General manager Jerry Colangelo, only 28 at the time, settled on a name for his expansion franchise using a name-the-team contest in 1968.
  • Colangelo chose Suns over Scorpions, Rattlers, and Thunderbirds, among the other suggestions included in the 28,000 entries.
  • One lucky fan won $1,000 and season tickets as part of the contest, which included such obscure entries as White Wing Doves, Sun Lovers, Poobahs, Dudes, and Cactus Giants.

PDX -> OKC CONNECT

  • Assistant coach Maurice Cheeks was 162-139 in four seasons as Portland’s head coach from 2001-2005.
  • Kyle Singler was born in Medford, Oregon and attended South Medford High School.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City hits the road for a couple of games. They’ll finish a back-to-back tomorrow at Minnesota. Then, at Charlotte on Saturday to finish up the road trip.



Three Keys to the Game

Third quarter

Win the third quarter. When the Thunder win the third quarter, they’re 12-1. When they lose, they’re 10-17 on the year. So, win the third quarter and you win the game. It’s pretty simple as that. Especially as the quarter has been the thorn in the side of Oklahoma City all season long.

Defense

Holding a team to under 100 points is hard in today’s NBA. That’s why it’s really no surprise the Trail Blazers are only 5-10 in games where they score less than 100 points. Portland is 1-3 in their last four where they scored less than 100 points. On the other side of that, Oklahoma City is 14-5 when holding an opponent under 100 points. They’re 6-1 when holding opponents under 100 in their last seven games.

Rebound

The Oklahoma City Thunder have rebounded well lately but they’ll have to do it again tonight. Oklahoma City is 16-6 when they can grab more boards than their opponent.

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