Tag - Semaj Christon

One year ago: Russ makes history with No. 42, then does the impossible

It is crazy to think it has already been a year since Russell Westbrook made history with 42 triple doubles in a season, but it is almost crazier to see how much the roster has changed since then. Out of the 13 guys that were on the active roster for that game at Denver on April 9, 2017, only six are on the current Oklahoma City Thunder roster.

It was a big game in few ways: Russ was looking to put his name in the history books, the Thunder were looking to gain some rhythm heading into the postseason all the while the Denver Nuggets had to get a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Pepsi Center was packed and electric. They wanted a win to maintain hope for a playoff spot, but they were also not so secretly hoping to witness Russ make history.

There were plenty of fans in the arena cheering for the road team, but they weren’t the only ones keeping count of Westbrook’s stats as the game went on. It seemed with each Russell bucket, assist, or rebound that the crowd grew with anticipation waiting for him to get that triple double.

For much of the game, it was an offensive battle as both teams were scoring at will. Each team was getting close to putting 30 points up for each quarter, at least for the first three quarters of the game. Denver even opened up the second half with a scorching 38-point third quarter performance.

The Nuggets obviously knew what was at stake; losing was not an option as they wanted to make the playoffs. They led for most of the game, and were even up comfortably by double digits for the majority of the second half.

Much like many times last season, the fourth quarter was Westbrook’s quarter. So many times last season he won games for Oklahoma City that they most certainly should have lost. Not only with big time game tying or winning shots, but with improbable comebacks when the Thunder were down late in games.

Oklahoma City found themselves down by as much as 14 points midway through the fourth quarter. Westbrook was just a couple rebounds and one assist away from his 42nd triple double, and the Nuggets crowd could feel it.

Just a couple possessions later, Westbrook had grabbed those rebounds he needed and all that was left to make history was one more assist. With just over four minutes left, Oklahoma City was down 13 with Westbrook driving to the lane. As Russ was doubled, he kicked it out to Semaj Christon in the corner, who was wide open. Christon, who shot 19 percent from three last season, hit the corner three to give Westbrook his tenth assist, and more importantly the 42nd triple double of the season.

The home crowd, feeling comfortable with the Nuggets still up 10, did not hold back as they cheered and acknowledged what Westbrook had just achieved. That should have been the story of the game for Nuggets fans: “Westbrook has historical moment, but Nuggets get win to keep playoff hopes alive.”

That isn’t what Russell had in mind, though.

With less than three minutes to go, Westbrook led the Thunder on another improbable comeback, this one maybe the most improbable of them all last season. Down double digits with three minutes left, and even down seven points with just 57 seconds left in the game, Russ was about to crush all the Nuggets fan’s hearts that had just once cheered for him moments ago.

As Oklahoma City got one more stop with just two seconds left in the game while down two, the Thunder were going to get one shot to either tie it or win it with a three. As Russ’ career shows us, we knew what shot he was looking for.

As Westbrook got the ball near half-court, he heaved it as the buzzer sounded and ultimately crushed 18,000 fans, making the most impossible shot go in, while simultaneously ending Denver’s playoff hopes.

It was a game that couldn’t have been better told if it was in a book. Not only did Russell get to make history, he also got to hit one of the craziest buzzer-beating game winners that happened in the 2017 NBA season. Westbrook finished the night with 50 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.

It is a game, one year ago, that is still fun to look back on and hard to imagine how many things lined up perfectly to happen the way it did. It will definitely be one of the more memorable games Thunder fans will always remember.

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Raymond Felton shining in back up role

Besides the Thunder’s lifelong search for a serviceable 3-and-D wing player, the backup point guard position for the team has also been a wasteland. That’s where Raymond Felton comes in.

Since Eric Maynor, bet you weren’t expecting to hear him, the Thunder has seen the likes of Reggie Jackson, Ish Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Cameron Payne, and *shudders* Derek Fisher running Westbrook’s backup.

While Payne excelled at running the pregame dance routine with Westbrook, Jackson saved the Thunder’s season against the Grizzlies and Fisher did Fisher things, none of these players did what a backup point guard is supposed to do: make the game easier for his team.

Now enter “Treymond” Felton, the backup point guard of your dreams. While Felton’s body does not scream NBA point guard, Felton has done everything the Thunder have desired from its backup point guard. Felton can actually run the offense, whether he is with the starters or with the bench.

As most experts observed during Westbrook’s One-Man Band Triple Double Tour and especially during the first round matchup with the Rockets, once Westbrook hit the bench, the Thunder went from outscoring opponents by 4.9 points per 100 possessions to being outscored by 51.3 points per 100 possessions. It does not take a math genius to know figure it out.

“That’s what he does,” Russell Westbrook said. “It’s what he’s been doing all season long, just being solid.”

The main reason for this drastic drop off was the Thunder’s bench could not run an offense to get any quality looks at the basket and it certainly did not help having Semaj Christon piloting that unit. Although Felton’s stats: 7.0 points; 2.7 assists; and 2.1 rebounds per game are not eye popping, they do not reflect Felton’s real value to the team.

“His greatest strength is how cerebral he is, how smart he is,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “That to me is the biggest thing, that he’s a very smart, experienced player who’s got a calmness and a disposition when he’s out there.”

With Felton—an experienced 12-year NBA veteran—Donovan has felt comfortable allowing Felton to run pick and roll with Jerami Grant or Patrick Patterson. Whether it leads to a Grant drive or dunk, or a Patterson three-pointer, Felton makes the game easier for his teammates.

Sometimes the best way to judge a player is to use the eye-test. Despite only shooting 34 percent from three and 40 percent from the field this season, and averaging 32.7 percent from three over his career, you’ll notice Felton’s uncanny ability to hit key threes in succession to hold of an opponent’s run or take the lead. Felton’s impact is being felt by the opposing teams, because Felton has demonstrated an ability to hit an open three, so the opposing teams have to respect that threat.

Felton’s underrated ability to control the pace can go unnoticed.

“Really good feel how to play,” Donovan said. “Great tempo. Reads defense. Understands matchups.”

Even when Felton is playing alongside Westbrook and the starters, Felton helps make the game easier for the team than Payne or Christon could. If Donovan chooses to keep Felton in with Westbrook, then both players can take turns bringing the ball up court and initiating the offense, which allows the other to conserve energy. If Donovan plays Felton with either Carmelo Anthony or Paul George, Felton can either initiate a pick and roll, or play off the ball Anthony and George can draw attention looking for their shot, which leads to either an open three for Felton or another Thunder player.

“A lot of guys I play with demand a lot of double-teams and a lot of attention, so it’s giving me chances to have a lot of open shots,” Felton said. “And I just got to take advantage of it.”

While this season the bench is scoring 25.1 points compared to last season’s 36.1 points, there are reasons to explain the drop: this season’s starting unit is vastly stronger. You can account that to Donovan staggering his lineups to usually have one starter with the bench, and the Thunder shortening its bench in the two 2-for-1 player trades it made for Anthony and George.

Say what you want about the Felton’s numbers and his body, the guy has been the backup point guard the Thunder have needed for years.

“Whatever it is this team needs me to do, whatever coach needs me to do to help this team out, to help us get a win that night,” Felton said, “I’m gonna do.”

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Thunder waive Semaj Christon and Isaiah Canaan

The Oklahoma City Thunder have officially waived Semaj Christon and Isaiah Canaan on Saturday, Oct. 14.

Canaan, 26, saw action in three preseason games with the Thunder and averaged 5.7 points, 2.0 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game. Previously, Canaan played for numerous teams over his career. He’s most notable for scoring 31 points for the Philadelphia 76ers back in March 2015.

Christon, 24, appeared in 64 games for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a rookie. He averaged 2.9 points, 2.0 assists and 1.4 rebounds last season.

Originally drafted by the Miami Heat in 2014, he was traded to Charlotte and Oklahoma City on draft night. After playing with the Oklahoma City Blue for a season, Christon spent a year in Italy before being invited to the Thunder’s training camp. He eventually beat out Ronnie Price for the final spot on the Thunder’s roster.

Last season, Christon was picked as the worst Thunder player on the roster. Christon’s season was statistically the second worst season in Thunder history.

Oklahoma City will now run with only 14 players on their roster, preferring to go with an open roster spot. They could always use that to acquire someone in a trade. They could always offer a minimum contract to someone as a free agent.

Oklahoma City starts their season on Oct. 19 against the New York Knicks.

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Injury update 10-5-17

Head coach Billy Donovan revealed today that Russell Westbrook did go through his first full practice of training camp, while Patrick Patterson went through scripted non-contact drills.

Alex Abrines did not practice and will not play Friday night against the New Orleans Pelicans along with Patterson.

Donovan said that Westbrook will be “reassessed” tomorrow to determine whether or not he will make his preseason debut. He also said that if he is able to go, he may be on a slight minutes restriction.

“There’s a possibility he could (play),” Donovan said. “There’s a chance he couldn’t. I think a lot’s gonna depend on, if he does go, how many minutes he would be able to play. Or it may be a situation where he says ‘I maybe need a little bit more rest.'”

Westbrook has been limited in preseason training camp in the wake of his platelet rich plasma injection procedure he had prior to camp. Patterson and Abrines are still recovering from minor injuries that don’t seem to concern the team for their status going forward.

“Russ is a guy that he can take two months off he can come back and play well,” Carmelo Anthony said today at practice.

If Westbrook is unable to play, Raymond Felton will get his second start at point guard in the preseason. Felton, a 14-year NBA veteran, started 11 games in the 2016-17 season for the LA Clippers.

He got the start on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets and recorded nine points and three assists in 18:29 minutes of play.

Patterson’s injury stems from arthroscopic knee surgery he had in August while Abrines’ left knee strain from international play continues to keep him from full practice.

“It difficult to put a time frame on anyone,” Donovan said last week on Patterson and Abrines’ status . “But it’s not something we think is long term.”

Reserves Jerami Grant, Semaj Christon and Terrance Ferguson will likely get more minutes for the rest of preseason.

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Injury update 10-2-17

Head coach Billy Donovan announced today that Russell Westbrook, Patrick Patterson and Alex Abrines will not play in tomorrow’s initial preseason game against the Houston Rockets in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Raymond Felton will get the nod as the starting point guard tomorrow night.

Westbrook has been limited in preseason training camp in the wake of his platelet rich plasma injection procedure he had prior to camp. Patterson and Abrines are still recovering from minor injuries that don’t seem to concern the team for their status going forward.

“Today was the first day he (Westbrook) did contact which was good,” Donovan said. “There were no ill effects from anything.”

Patterson’s injury stems from arthroscopic knee surgery he had in August while Abrines’ left knee strain from international play continues to keep him from full practice.

“It difficult to put a time frame on anyone,” Donovan said on Patterson and Abrines’ status. “But it’s not something we think is long term.”

Felton, a 14-year NBA veteran, started 11 games in the 2016-17 season for the LA Clippers. He has been running with the first unit in Westbrook’s absence.

“Just because we got three All-Stars on this team, we still can’t back down,” Felton said when asked about how he his experience with the first unit has gone so far. “We have to continue to push them.”

Felton also has experience with teammate Carmelo Anthony, having played in New York together for two seasons.

“We got a lot of history with each other,” Felton said. “Just to get that bond back, to be on the same team and go battle together is going to be fun.”

Reserves Jerami Grant, Semaj Christon and Nick Collison will likely get more minutes for the rest of preseason.

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Oklahoma City Thunder sign Yannis Morin

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed Yannis Morin to a one-year deal according to BeBasket.

Morin, 23, played in the French Pro B last season for Le Havre. He averaged 6.8 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting. He also pulled down 7.4 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. During summer league for the Thunder, Morin averaged only 2.2 points in 13.5 minutes per game backing up Dakari Johnson.

Morin has never played by the French national team but did play with the U-18 team in 2010.

It’s assumed this is a training camp agreement as the Thunder already 16 committed roster spots. They still can waive Semaj Christon and potentially Kyle Singler. They could stretch Singler’s contract up to seven years.

Oklahoma City often invites 2-3 players into camp with the intention of going to the G-League‘s Oklahoma City Blue. With Johnson going to Oklahoma City, the Blue will have a void at center.

Training camp will start at the end of September, which the league starting at one of the earliest days in recent NBA history.

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Poll: Grade the Thunder offseason

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been pretty busy since June 29 and really have been in the news since then and really haven’t stopped. It started with the Paul George trade and it culminated with the signing of Raymond Felton.

For Sam Presti, this is turning into the Summer of Sam. He’s an immediate leader for Executive of the Year and is filling all of the holes Oklahoma City had last season.

Paul George gives Oklahoma City another legitimate superstar and can now compete atop of the Western Conference and probably the NBA. George is a two-way superstar and can guard 1-3 on the floor. He nails the three at an extremely high clip.

Terrance Ferguson is a lengthy two-guard who hasn’t really seen NBA speeds as he played in Australia last season. However, the Thunder are high on Ferguson and his ability to get to the room, despite his small size of 184 lbs.

Patrick Patterson is almost a perfect fit. Like George, he’s a two-way defender and can also step out and hit the big three from the corners. He’s a super high energy guy that can really give a team some momentum by stepping in and playing sound defense.

Raymond Felton is an okay back up point guard coming from the Clippers. He’s durable and a really good teammate. Oklahoma City has their replacement for Semaj Christon, that is if they choose to let him go.

Now, give us your vote. How do you think the Thunder have done?

Thunder offseason

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Thunder sign Raymond Felton to one-year deal

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed free agent Raymond Felton to a one-year deal, ESPN’s Chris Haynes is reporting.

The Thunder don’t often release the financial aspects of a contract, however, it is assumed Felton is signing for the veteran’s minimum: $2,328,652.

Felton, 33, has played for six teams over his career. He was named to the 2005-06 NBA All-Rookie team. Felton recently played with the L.A. Clippers.

Felton is a veteran-savvy point guard who went to North Carolina. One major plus for Felton is he has remained healthy throughout his career. He has played in more than 65 games for 10 of his 12 seasons.

Last season, Felton averaged 6.7 points in 21.7 minutes per game, providing a quality back up for Chris Paul. He shot 43 percent from the field but only 31.9 percent from three.

It is unknown whether Oklahoma City will keep Semaj Christon on the roster. All signs would say yes, as the Thunder have kept three point guards most of their time in Oklahoma City.

Felton becomes the fourth addition to an evolving roster. With the additions of Paul George, Patrick Patterson, Terrance Ferguson and now Felton, the Thunder continue to build around Russell Westbrook.

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Three things noticed in Summer League Game 1

The Oklahoma City Thunder won their first game of the 2017 Summer League in exciting fashion against the Detroit Pistons 92-91.

Obviously, Domas Sabonis was no longer able to play with the Thunder’s Summer League squad after being traded yesterday. First round pick Terrance Ferguson has yet to sign his initial contract and is not in Orlando with the team.

Summer League is about development and growth. With the loss of Sabonis, the Thunder were represented by Semaj Christon and Josh Huestis as the only two players with NBA/Oklahoma City experience.

Here are three things that stuck out:

Semaj Christon

As stated earlier, Summer League is mainly to see growth and development in individual players. Christon is a player who Oklahoma City gave every opportunity last season as Russell Westbrook‘s primary backup. It was an up and down year for the rookie out of Xavier with more negatives than positives.

Today was a mixed bag for Semaj. While statistically, Christon isn’t going to be a player who will wow you, the main thing with the young guard is confidence.

Christen looked in control and definitely looked one of the few players with NBA experience. He had a handful of nice dishes and drives.

As of right now, Christon remains the backup point guard for the Thunder. If that is still the case when the 2017-18 season begins, his confidence will have to remain high.

Lack of Shooting

Until the final minutes, the Thunder were abysmal from beyond the arc. They finished the game shooting a respectable 36 percent after a desperate final run.

Guys like Huestis, Christon and Daniel Hamilton handling the shooting duties won’t light up the score board from deep.

This Summer League squad is designed to defend. While Huestis has shown a capable shot with good mechanics in his brief NBA experience, he will need to start pressing the issue with his shot if he wants to make strides.

The Ending

With two minutes remaining, the Thunder were down 11. Hamilton scored five points in 7.6 seconds to take the one point lead.

All thanks to a officiating blunder.

Official Haywoode Workman admitted to giving two free throws to the Thunder when they should have only had a one-shot technical.

Even in the Summer, the officials need some development.

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Thunder Summer Game Day #1: vs. Detroit Pistons

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0, 0 points) vs. Detroit Pistons (0-0, 0 points)
Saturday, July 1 :: 4:00 p.m. CST :: Amway Center — Orlando, Fla.

Thunder Summer Game Day #1: vs. Detroit Pistonsvs. Thunder Digest

TV: NBATV
Online Streamhere.
Radio: none.
View from the enemyHere.
Line: Oklahoma City is a 9½-point favorite. O/U is 227½
Notes: Thunder: here | Pistons: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Oklahoma City will bring out 14 players, five with real NBA experience in hopes of a chance at a Summer League victory.
  • Each win is worth four points. Each quarter win is worth 1 point, a tie of a quarter, each team receives 0.5 points.  A winning team can win at the most eight points a game if they play their cards right. The most a losing team can get is three points.
  • REMINDER: Summer League does not mean anything. Just glorified scrimmages that are on TV for fans to watch.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • The games are available online at NBA.com. On the NBA Gametime App or on your TV on NBATV.

NBA INFLUENCE

  • Oklahoma City will trot out some real nba talent this summer league.
  • Semaj Christon, Markel Brown, Josh Huestis, and Marcus Thornton all have spent time with NBA teams in their careers.
  • Only Christon and Huestis are under contract with the Thunder.
  • Brown played at Oklahoma State and with the Brooklyn Nets.
  • Thornton has been to multiple training camps but have not stuck.

SCOUTING THE PISTONS

  • Detroit has played in the OPSL every summer since 2012.
  • Luke Kennard, the Pistons first round draft pick is expected to suit up this weekend.
  • Henry Ellenson, a second year player will suit up for his second summer with Detroit.
  • Hollis Thompson and Dez Wells have both been in training camp and played with the Oklahoma City Blue.
  • Five players, led by Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, will suit up for Detroit.
  • Pierre Jackson is the most famous name on the list. He’ll lace it up for another opportunity at the NBA.

NO DOMAS

  • Domantas Sabonis was scheduled to be on the roster before yesterday’s trade.
  • Sabonis and Victor Oladipo were traded to Indiana for Paul George.

INJURY REPORT

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City is off on Sunday, which has become a bit of a regular thing.
  • The Thunder will play the New York Knicks at 12 p.m. on Monday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Ferguson

How does Oklahoma City’s only draft selection respond against real NBA talent? He spent the entire last season over in Australia but those Aussies don’t stand a match for NBA level talent.

Play with poise

While high scoring blow ups are cool and all. This is about the fundamentals. How does Dakari Johnson work on the block. Is he as slow as the scouting report says? Is Semaj Christon working on developing his shot? These are things we need to watch for.

I’m Blue, if I was green I would die

A handful of Oklahoma City Blue players are in this game. Oklahoma City is getting ready to try and figure out how to handle all of these names over at the Cox Center. The Blue could be building their roster as we speak.

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