Quantcast
Connect with us

Editorials

Thunder Breakdown: What we know from the first preseason game

Steven Adams
Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their first preseason game 142-137 in a wild overtime shootout on Monday against Real Madrid of the Liga ACB of Spain.

While it’s an “L” on the preseason record, there was lots to take away from this game, especially in such a highly contested one with five extra minutes of action.

How things went down

The Thunder led by as many as 22 points in the first half. Real Madrid put on an impressive shooting display throughout the game, especially in the second half, which kept them at striking distance with seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

Real Madrid intentionally missed a second free-throw, chased down the offensive rebound and Spanish national Sergio Llull hit a three as the buzzer sounded to force overtime.

In the overtime period, the team looked somewhat shaken and had some embarrassing defensive breakdowns which led to the “Merengues” outscoring Oklahoma City 16-11 and eventually going away with the win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gNEgwhZJPo

Individual performances

Russell Westbrook (PG):

Westbrook, who hit this crazy shot during warmups, played only in the first and third quarters, totaling 18 points and four assists in 22 minutes. He looked explosive and aggressive and was a threat to score or create for others every time he touched the ball.

He looked to push the pace every chance possible as evidenced by this breakaway dunk in transition.

Victor Oladipo (SG):

It was a great first showing for the new addition to this different Thunder lineup. Oladipo started a blazing 12-for-16 from the field and finished 14-for 24 with 34 points, none sweeter than this poster-like dunk over two Real Madrid players.

He was able to create his shot comfortably and hit from everywhere, though he was only 1-for-7 from deep. He also totaled five assists and two steals. The backcourt combination with Westbrook will be one of the fastest duos in the NBA this year.

Steven Adams (C):

Adams looked comfortable for the limited minutes he was on the floor, until he suffered a right ankle sprain with 3:18 to go in the second quarter. The Kiwi international finished 3-for-5 from the field with seven points and one rebound as he did not come back into the game.

The Thunder will be very careful with him given the lack of depth the roster offers at the center position. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see him until the final preseason game, depending on the severity of the sprain.

Domantas Sabonis (PF):

Versatile and not afraid of the moment, Sabonis fit right in and picked his spots wisely. While he is not a major part of the rotation as a rookie, it was evident why Oklahoma City was so keen on getting him on draft night.

He went 3-for-5 with seven points, four assists, five rebounds (three offensive), a steal and a trey. Well-rounded performance for the big fella, who fouled out after 29 minutes of action.

Enes Kanter (PF):

One of his best showings as a sixth man. He put up a 29-point, 10-rebound double-double that included six offensive rebounds. Kanter was active and merciless on the glass during his team-high 33 minutes of playing time.

The Turkish international was 12-for-20 shooting and showed his versatility, scoring not only on the block with put-backs, but showing his improved mid-range game to keep the defense honest. He will be a great asset this season.

Ersan Ilyasova (SF):

Made good choices on the floor, but is still getting acclimated to his new team. He had 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, along with four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Ilyasova also knocked down a couple of threes in his 27 minutes on the floor.

Kyle Singler (SF):

Wasn’t as assertive as expected during his 24 minutes, but produced a well-rounded stat line. Singler had five points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block; but failed to have a real impact in the game. The Thunder are putting out the feelers on him, but unless he impresses, he won’t get the nod for more minutes from head coach Billy Donovan.

Alex Abrines (SG):

The boy can shoot. The last pick of the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft showed what he can do on Monday after spending the last few seasons developing overseas with Barcelona in Spain. He finished 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in his 25 minutes.

Abrines was well-defended for most of the game since rival club Real Madrid definitely has the 23-year-old in the scouting report. He was part of some clutch baskets late in the fourth quarter.

Final insights

The Thunder got a taste of what a good shooting team is really like, being out-shot by Real Madrid in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentages. Real Madrid was a whopping 20-for-37 from deep and shot 58 percent from the floor.

Oladipo and Kanter were part of the overtime period as Donovan is looking to see how the team will close quarters with the two on the floor.

Some say Sabonis got the nod at the starting four, because his father, Arvydas, played for Real Madrid — but in reality Donovan is leaning towards starting the big man in the regular season as the organization is bullish on his potential and development with the team.

The Thunder could be a defensive juggernaut this season with Westbrook and Oladipo being defensive ball hawks that can disrupt ball-handlers, read passing lanes and turn defense into offense at the blink of an eye. Andre Roberson at the three is a defensive stopper and a healthy Adams can be a wall at the rim.

Abrines is an interesting player. He shot the ball confidently and stepped into his shots comfortably. The question for him is at the defensive end as the game seems to happen a little too fast for him. His fragile 190-pound body in his 6-foot-6 frame won’t make it easy for him to keep up with stronger guards and will likely be a mismatch against more developed small forwards.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Editorials