The Thunder were one of a handful of teams in the Western Conference whose splashy offseason additions were supposed to vault them to another level in 2017/18. Conference rivals like the Rockets and Timberwolves have seen their summer moves pay dividends so far, but the Thunder continue to struggle, having played sub-.500 ball through nearly a third of the season so far. As Royce Young of ESPN details, Monday’s loss to the Hornets represented the latest frustrating result for Oklahoma City, with Carmelo Anthony leaving the locker room without talking to reporters.
“For the talent that we have, obviously this is not where we want to be,” Thunder forward Paul George said. “But we’re going to remain optimistic, though, about the future and what we can do. Once we can find a way to really do it night in and night out, it’s no panic mode, but we have to start playing better. It’s getting to a point where we can’t allow ourselves to be at this point. We can say we’re going to figure it out, we can say all that. But at some point it’s gotta stop.”
For his part, head coach Billy Donovan believes the Thunder are taking the right approach, and anticipates that will eventually show up on the scoreboard. “Everybody’s giving up something of themselves for the benefit of the team, and I think at some point that will pay dividends for us,” Donovan said.
Here’s more out of the Northwest division:
- The Thunder players are holding one another accountable for the team’s slow start, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. However, fellow Oklahoman scribe Berry Tramel suggests that Donovan has to take responsibility for the club’s underwhelming performance.
- Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, a restricted free agent at season’s end, has been sidelined since last Tuesday with a sprained right ankle and wants to get back to 100% before he returns, tweets Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Nurkic suggested that it’d be better to miss one extra game than to rush back, aggravate the injury, and miss 15 games.
- Determining how best to use Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors remains an ongoing issue for Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, writes Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. “When you play with two big guys, like any team in the league we have to try to maximize what those guys can do,” Snyder said. “And what means is the spacing’s different and the other guys have to adjust to that and get better.”