Monday Bolts: 9.16.19

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) is getting burnt up with questions about Oklahoma City’s frontcourt and backcourt players: “The idea when (Nerlens) Noel signed the first time was that he could rehabilitate his image in Oklahoma City, and he seems to have done that. He never came across as discontented, and the Thunder welcomed him back for another season. But it’s unclear if he’ll play more this season… Given that he’s on a good value contract, he might yet drum up interest on the trade market, and Noel is at the very least a valuable backup. He gets out of position at times defensively as he aggressively pursues blocks and steals, but he can disrupt an offense with both, and he’s shown comfort switching onto perimeter players in defending the pick and roll.”

Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report) looks at each team’s most promising rookie heading into the season, and is what you might call “skeptical” of Darius Bazley:“At this stage, he doesn’t have a core skill or strength. He’s not ready to execute his three-ball or one-on-one game. And it will take time for the 19-year-old to get a feel for the league’s physicality and athleticism. He won’t be useful this season to the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

Nick Gallo ( has another summer feature out, this time on new addition Mike Muscala:

Keith Smith (Yahoo! Sports) with a thread on cap situations, showing how the Thunder line up against the rest of the league:

You might be sick of hearing about the small forward we thought would wear #35 forever, but here’s one more tidbit from Alex Labidou ( “(P.J.) Dozier is hoping defense will be his calling card in the league. He sees himself as a big point guard who can also guard shooting guards and small forwards. In order to earn a roster spot, it’s the other side of the court where he’ll have to make strides. He showed some encouraging signs in the G League last season as he shot 45.6 percent from the field with the Maine Red Claws on his way to being tapped a G League All-Star. “I feel like I have a lot to bring to the table and it’s all about just having the opportunity,” Dozier said. “Whatever I need to do, that’s what I’m trying to do.” In addition, Dozier will have to prove he’s a good fit culturally on a hard-working, tight-knit Nuggets team.”

Power struggles abound. Shams Charania (The Athletic) reports that the league is trying to enforce and introduce tampering policies, and Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) reports that the NBA Players Association is pushing back hard on the NCAA’s new agent certification rules.

Gregg Popovich tells Tim Reynolds (Associated Press) he isn’t too upset with how the World Cup turned out: “Popovich said it’s too early to think about what USA Basketball needs to do before getting ready for the Tokyo Games. But he warned — just as two-time gold medalist Kobe Bryant did on Friday — that the days of American romps to gold are done. “There are a lot of great teams in the world,” Popovich said. “It’s not written in stone that the United States is supposed to walk to a championship.” We should’ve known Popovich was eager to coach Team USA as a mole for international basketball at large, not to maintain American excellence.

Rams add Mikeal Brown-Jones to 2020 class

After a Jamir Watkins morning commit that had Ram fans buzzing, the black and gold bookended the day with another 2020 commitment, this time in the form of 6’7 power forward, Mikeal Brown-Jones. The rising high school senior made his announcement Friday evening via his Twitter account. #RamsNation It’s Done. ? — Sadeen (@kealliono) […]

Jamir Watkins commits to VCU

It’s officially getting scary for the Atlantic 10, as VCU has picked up another huge commitment for their 2020 class, this time in the form of 6’7 forward, Jamir Watkins. The rising Trenton Catholic senior announced his commitment to the Rams via his Twitter feed Friday morning, choosing the black and gold over the likes […]

Friday Bolts: 9.13.19

Erik Horne (The Oklahoman) details Team USA’s disappointing finish at the World Cup. They were eliminated from medal contention by Serbia: “The U.S. never was any closer than after Donovan Mitchell made a 3-pointer in the third quarter to narrow the lead to 61-59, but a Bogdanovic answer from 3 stretched the lead again. Serbia shredded the U.S. defense for 15-of-31 from 3, including 7-of-14 from Bogdanovic, who scored a game-high 28 points. The U.S. then went scoreless for the first 3:45 of the fourth as Serbia rebuilt its double-digit lead.”

Jerry Colangelo tells Tim Reynolds (Associated Press) that he blames the players who pulled out from playing for the United States for their performance, and sends a veiled threat that he won’t let them back on next time around: “Going forward for USA Basketball, we’re going to need the cooperation of teams, agents and then there has to be communication with players 1-on-1 to solidify those commitments,” Colangelo said. “I am going to be anxious to see how many players reach out early to indicate that they wish and want and desire to play. But I’ll make this statement: It’s as much about maybe who we don’t want as much as who we want.” (If you didn’t notice when he made sure everyone knew he blocked Carmelo Anthony from this summer’s tournament, Colangelo really wants the credit for building the best theoretical global team.)

And Tinfoil Andrew Bogut wants you to look up his conspiracy about FIBA refereeing.

Chris Haynes (Yahoo! Sports) gets Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on the record about, among other things, the Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade: “I think this is gonna be a great fit for Chris in Oklahoma City. I think Oklahoma City is going to surprise people with how good they are. I think there’s a lot left in Chris Paul’s tank. I think Chris Paul’s gonna surprise people with how good he is and I think it’s going to surprise people with how good Westbrook fits in with James Harden.”

Shannon Sharpe says, considering that recent interview, Kevin Durant owes him apology:

And Redditor u/sideshowpurrp thinks Oklahoma City fans should go max petty by giving a standing ovation to Paul George, which would allegedly “send a message” to KD about fan reactions to superstar departures being incoherent his snake status.

Joe Barnathan (Forbes) lauds Steve Ballmer for bucking a sports owner trend by foregoing public funding for the Clippers’ new arena and pledging to put $100 million dollars into the town of Ingelwood: “Lasry and Wes Edens claim they were justified in asking the city for $250 million. The team argued that if they could not get the public funding, that they’d be forced to moved the team for economic reasons. Of course, they also argued that the new arena will be a boost for the local economy. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen. For Steve Ballmer and the Clippers, there will be no hand-wringing about whether their new venue will be worth leaning on taxpayers because they didn’t ask for a dime. The optics of a man worth more than $50 billion asking the local government for financial assistance would be awkward to say the least. However, Ballmer could’ve certainly made the argument that it is common practice to secure some public financing. Instead, he made the call that while the public enjoys his team, it is not their responsibility to fund his ventures.”

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Thursday Bolts 9.12.19

Zach Lowe (ESPN) has Sam Anderson on The Lowe Post podcast to talk about his book “Boomtown” and all things Thunder. Very necessary listen.

We had some thoughts on Kevin Durant’s Wall Street Journal interview, in which he put the Thunder organization and fans on blast, yesterday. Alex Galbraith (Complex) runs down all of the Twitter spats Durant kept going in the fallout to his Wall Street Journal interview. 🤷🏾

More of Rob Mahoney’s (SI) top-100 players ranking for this season is out, and he has Chris Paul (21), Steven Adams (40), Danilo Gallinari (50) all in the top half of the list: “To understand what makes Steven Adams a great player, you have to start by looking around him. The scoring he contributes goes beyond his 13.9 PPG, considering that Adams is near the top of the league in screen assists. Even though Adams himself has fairly pedestrian rebounding numbers, no player in the league had a more profound impact on his team’s defensive rebounding last season. (Does Russell Westbrook average a triple-double for three straight seasons without Adams clearing a runway to the glass?)”

Andy Bailey (Bleacher Report) puts Paul four spots ahead of Russell Westbrook in his all-time point guard rankings: “Right now, Westbrook is among the game’s most divisive players. In a poll that asked, “Is Russell Westbrook a top-10 PG all time?,” 56 percent of voters said no. Years from now, with the benefit of hindsight, Russ should get his due.”

Etienne Catalan (NBA Jerseys) has the scoop that Justin Patton is going to wear #13 for the Thunder. Insert James Harden/PJ Dozier/etc. jokes here.

Dorian Craft (USA Today) has some thoughts on what Thunder fans can expect from Luguentz Dort this season: “With his height and a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Dort possesses an NBA-ready body. Defensively, he has the potential to be a matchup nightmare as he’s able to step out and guard on the perimeter while also moving inside to put a body on forwards. Offensively, Dort is still a little rough, as most rookies are. Fans should expect him to be a rim-runner early on, finishing with layups or dunks.”

Dan Devine (The Ringer) on Team USA’s failure and future: “There’s a good chance that by this time next year we’ll be discussing the performance of a roster featuring multiple MVPs rather than one featuring a single All-NBA performer. And perhaps that’s what matters most—getting USA’s A-team, or at least something close to it, rather than fretting too much about how the pieces all fit together. It’s worth remembering, though, that the last three Olympic teams featuring those All-Star names still had to sweat against international opponents with lesser NBA-caliber talent, but much more cohesive rosters. This result isn’t just about the best and brightest feeling stirred enough to commit to turning out next summer; it’s about those who do then devoting themselves to the pursuit enough to develop the familiarity to produce a more consistent offense and better defense against the pick-and-roll and off-ball cuts.”

Alykhan Bijani (The Athletic) breaks down how Oklahoma City used Russell Westbrook and how that will translate in Houston: “Westbrook will often be the primary ball-handler in these pistol formations, and the coaching staff will place two shooters in the opposite corner and the opposite slot to create space for Westbrook or Harden to attack. The Thunder employed different sets and actions, some of which will be integrated into the Rockets offense. The coaching staff has already reviewed film and spoken to Westbrook about ATO (after timeout) plays he likes and specific half-court sets he feels comfortable with.”

Reddit use Dons98 suggests “Trust the PrOKCdure” as the rebuilding slogan for Oklahomy City to rally around. Pretty bad but it’s early. Put your alternatives in the comments.

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8 Things Every Basketball Enthusiast Should Know

Basketball is one of the most exhilarating and entertaining sports, even if you’re just on the bench. The sport relies on so many different strategies and requires huge physical capability from the players to achieve greatness within the industry. If you’re one of those people who are interested in finding out more about the sport for any reason, then this article is for you, because it’s going to delve into the things that every person interested in basketball should either learn, or stay away from.

Here Are 8 Things You Need To Know As A Basketball Fan:

The Rules

While this may be an obvious point, it’s still one that’s overlooked very often. Regular players will know basic rules like how not to travel or double-dribble, but basketball contains a large set of rules that many casual players don’t know about. Rules such as three-second rule (commonly called three in the key) and technicalities behind how to correctly judge whether someone committed a charging foul or a moving screen foul are very difficult to determine without knowing the exact things to look for whenever you’re trying to call a foul. A basketball enthusiast should be very familiar with the set of rules in the rule book so that they’re prepared for every situation.

How To Correctly Warm-up Before Playing

Warming up is a very essential part of playing any sport. When it comes to basketball, however, you need to know which drills to run to get the muscles you’re going to be using warmed up, and also what to do to get yourself mentally prepared for a game, no matter how casual the game is. Shooting the ball a few times along with trying out one of your fancy dribbles helps you get in the zone, both physically and mentally. Warming up is always followed by a good stretch. While it may seem like a boring thing to do, especially when you’re all hyped up to start your game, it’s always necessary. Stretching will help prevent so many possible injuries that could occur while you’re on the court.

How To Practice Efficiently

Knowing how to exercise most efficiently for the level that you’re at is essential to get better. Whether you’re practicing yourself or teaching someone else, knowing what the best drills are for their level is what makes them better. That’s why a good coach is extremely important. Professional coaches over at agree with the statement that says, the coaching methods used to improve are an immense factor in the improving process, no matter what skill level you’re at. Picking a good coach alongside or training to be a really good one is a key factor in basketball.

The Best Defensive Tactics To Implement In The Game

Games are often very intense, and to beat the other team you’d need to know what defensive strategy to use within the game to out-play the other team. Being able to decide on which one to use is the difficult part because no defensive tactic can be executed by all teams. Every team has specific defensive strengths and weaknesses, using this to your advantage with a specifically tailored plan for the team you’re playing with is going to get your success in terms of defending your hoop against the other team.

The Best Offensive Tactics To Implement In The Game

Offensive tactics and defensive tactics share one thing in common, and that’s considering both teams. With both scenarios of being on the defensive and the offensive sides, you use your team’s strengths and the other team’s weaknesses. In offensive tactics, plays need to be practiced before the game to be mastered and successfully executed.

Every Player Has Their Own Style

Whenever a coach tries to take away your freedom while you play, you feel congested in your play style and uncomfortable. You never want to be that coach or player that gets his freedom taken away. Both you and/or the coach need to know that every player is different and taking away that play style takes away the entire game.

Getting The Right Gear For Yourself

Showing off your fresh new shoes isn’t just a huge boost in confidence, it’s also very good for you as a player as gear is a big factor in basketball. While you may be able to perform well while wearing anything, you can perform even better when you’re wearing light shoes that commend your play style and help you feel more comfortable on the court. Goggle glasses help those who have bad eyesight to still wear glasses safely on the court without breaking it in the process. Such things boost your enjoyment and your performance in the game.

Hone Every Skill Individually

A common mistake made is assuming that you’re going to get better at basketball by just practicing through games, as it helps you improve in everything. While there’s truth to that, there’s also a huge difference in your learning curve and the speed at which you improve. If you lack skills in shooting, you need to be shooting more often to improve that skill individually rather than wait for it to gradually improve at a very slow pace through a game setting. The same goes for all the other skills, including defense, dribbling, stealing, blocking and passing.

Professional players have the best coaches that recommend they do certain drills to improve, using those same drills can be very beneficial for your own improvement too. The same goes for watching their play style and learning from the small things they do that makes them so great on the court. Consider this a bonus tip, as watching professionals play helps you improve greatly, as you’ll know what to do while on the court from watching them constantly get into position at every single second of the game. However, you shouldn’t make the mistake of doing everything that they do as every player gets their own different set of drills and exercises and blindly applying that to yourself won’t achieve the same results.

The post 8 Things Every Basketball Enthusiast Should Know appeared first on The Hoop Doctors.

Tuesday Bolts 9.10.19

Dennis Schröder nearly triple-doubled in a meaningless consolation-bracket win for Germany over Canada:

Tim Reynolds (Associated Press) disagrees with me, citing Danilo Gallinari’s role in Italy’s meaningful overtime win over Puerto Rico:

Speaking of the Italian devil, Zach Buckley (Bleacher Report) tabbed Danilo as the best NBA shooter at the small forward position: “While his accuracy has ebbed and flowed over his 10-year career, it ranked among 2018-19’s elite. His 161 threes were the second-most of his career. His 19.8 points per game, 46.3 field-goal percentage and 63.3 true shooting percentage were new personal bests. His 367 free throws were the second-most he’d ever made, and his 90.4 free-throw percentage ranked fourth among qualified shooters. With size for the post (6’10”, 225 lbs) and mobility for the perimeter, he can get his shot off at any time. He fits the cliched (but appropriate) definition of the walking mismatch: too big for smaller defenders, too quick for bigger ones.”

CL Brown (The Athletic) put together something of an oral history of Chris Paul’s early signs of stardom at Wake Forest: “Chris Ellis, forward: The thing is this. As a freshman, he came in yelling at the upperclassmen. Everybody was looking at him like, What is he doing? You haven’t earned your stripes yet. I didn’t understand it. He would yell at me the most because I was the 4 and supposed to get the ball out. He wanted the ball as fast as possible, so he could get out in the court. What I didn’t understand at the time was, he was yelling at us because he demanded perfection. He saw how the play was supposed to be run. He would not start the play until everybody was in the right place.”

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) has a Q&A with Thunder addition Mike Muscala: “I just felt that even despite the change in the roster, the personnel, that it would still be a good opportunity for me and that there would still be a lot that I could learn. I’ve never played the game with the approach that “Oh, I just want to win a championship.” It’s never been like that. For me, it’s been more about the people I meet and have met throughout my career who I stay in touch with. I think that’s what’s so cool about basketball. Being on the Sixers and the Lakers last year with a couple of younger guys, I really enjoyed getting to know them more. I’m not saying I was a big mentor to them, but just kind of taking them under my wing a little bit and talking to them. Maybe going out to dinner here there and just kind of throwing some ideas at them and things that I had learned through my first couple of years. That was really valuable to me. It felt good. And I felt that on this team now, with a lot of younger players, there would be an opportunity to do that.”

Rob Mahoney (SI) rolled out the first half his top-100 NBA players for this season. Surprisingly,
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and, less so, Schröder missed the cut: “Of all the young players under consideration, Gilgeous-Alexander felt the least predictable. His developmental arc is as amorphous as his game. Somehow, Gilgeous-Alexander is not quite a point guard, not quite a shooting guard, and not quite a combo guard, either, at least in the classic sense of the archetype. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, though there’s a lot to like in the way he feels out the game.”

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