Northwest Notes: Thunder, Nuggets, Lillard, Branch

The Thunder are slated to return to NBA action on August 1 against the Jazz in the NBA’s Orlando bubble restart, and that date will be an opportunity for OKC to reassert itself as a top defensive squad, per Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com.

Throughout their first 64 games in 2019/20, the Thunder ranked among the league’s upper third across several defensive categories, Gallo goes on to observe. These impressive top-10 rankings included slotting first in opponent fast-break points (10.5 per game), first in opponent free throw attempts (18.6 per game), sixth in three-point defense (34.4% allowed) and ninth in defensive rating (108.4 points per 100 possessions). At 40-24, the Thunder are currently the No. 5 seed in the crowded West.

The starriest new Thunder acquisition for the 2019/20 season, All-Star point guard Chris Paul, observed that the team’s strength is not just predicated on their athletic prowess. “You can’t just have the athleticism,” Paul said. “You can be as tall as you want to and all that stuff but guys that know how to play are going to manipulate the game on you so the only way you can get that knowledge is to study it and watch games.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Among the Nuggets‘ anticipated team traveling party for the NBA’s Orlando restart, two members tested positive over the weekend and a third had a positive test since then, though all are presently asymptomatic, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The team closed its practice facility in response to the news. The Nuggets as an organization have been dealt with six COVID-19 cases since March.
  • Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, who does intend to play for the season restart, spoke about the Orlando bubble with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter video link). “I don’t think I’m ever going to be 100% comfortable, just because I understand there’s no way that this can be kept 100% safe,” Lillard said.
  • Timberwolves assistant GM Joe Branch has been a big asset for the team both inside and outside of the basketball court, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski“He’s really caught the vision that I had for our group and how we want to treat our players in going above and beyond,” team president Gersson Rosas raved. “He’s got incredible rapport with players and their families and a very proactive team-first approach with the staff.”
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11 thoughts on “Northwest Notes: Thunder, Nuggets, Lillard, Branch

  1. harden-westbrook-mvps

    OKC is totally messing up their future by playing well above expectations this season. After trading away their top 2 players to contenders, they should concentrate on re-building the team once they’re rid of both Adams and CP3 in a couple of years.

    Adams has one year left on his contract, so they will have cap space to sign a more promising prospect next summer. Then in 2022 they will finally be free of the albatross also known as Chris Paul’s contract and can really work on building for the future after blowing their chance with the three MVP’s they had.

    • washington_bonercats

      Not sure if you’re aware but the Thunder have a substantial amount of draft capital in the coming years. I’m sure they’re not worried about anything.

    • natsfan3437

      Adams will get resigned at a lower price most likely around 15m. OKC organization loves him, he is a top 10 center, he is a top 25 merch seller in the nba which a team like OKC can’t be picky to cut off (don’t remember the exact number), and he brings in the new zeland fan base when he leaves they leave.

      They also still have very good young pieces, a ton of draft capital, good organizational structure (coach / gm), and this react class isn’t impressive at all so no one to really tank for to begin with.

  2. x_burner_X

    Stupid tanking doesn’t work – look at twolves, suns, bobcats etc. Even Philly had to go extreme tank yo get two stars who apparently cant play together.

    Winning culture is very important, and I hope more teams do it the OKC way rather than the stupid tank way

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      It worked for the Spurs in ’97 when Robinson got hurt and they got Duncan, who turned out to be even better. It also worked before that in ’84 when the Rockets got one of the top 10 players in NBA history, Hakeem Olajuwon. That was the reason why they came up with the draft lottery.

      • El Don

        So it worked twice in the last 40 years… why don’t 25 teams try it every year, right? Duhhh!!!

  3. Sillivan

    About 10 teams will be tanking because there are 4 all stars next year draft picks

    trade idea
    Thunder get Wiggins and Warriors pick
    Warriors get Adams and Gallo

    Add salary filler and picks

    • greg1

      Gallo’s an FA this offseason, check out a contracts page on basketball reference so that you can speak intelligently on trades for once.

  4. Sillivan

    Thunder have Clippers Rockets Heat picks
    These picks have little value

    If trade down and swap picks Warriors could get 2021 Knicks unprotected pick

    Warriors already have Wolves 2022 unprotected pick

  5. KnickerbockerAl

    If you want a future all star or star. You have to be in top 5. But you better know talent. It’s not just talent. They gotta have that Mamba mentality. That kind of player will take you places. BB is a team sport. So you constantly have to be looking for talent. Look what Heat have done in last few yrs. Philly blew it with Fultz. But he looked like the real thing. What I don’t get. Is after him, they stopped looking for scoring PG. Its what they are missing.

  6. wagner13

    “’You can be as tall as you want to and all that stuff but guys that know how to play are going to manipulate the game on you so the only way you can get that knowledge is to study it and watch games.’”

    That’s good to know, as Paul isn’t exactly known for his height

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