Oklahoma City has not been right so far this season. The offense ends up in too much isolation for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The defense lacks the tenacity it had last season, teams are shooting well against them. OKC is not creating turnovers and converting those into the spectacular transition points we expect.
But they are above water at 4-3, thanks to free throws.
No team in the NBA gets to the line more often then Oklahoma City — they have attempted more free throws in ratio to field goals attempted than any team in the league (35.4 percent). Durant has averaged 10 free throws a game, Westbrook 9, Jeff Green another 6.8. As a team they average 32.6 free throws a game.
And they are converting them at a record 87.3 percent. As a team they are shooting just shy of 90 percent. For comparison, the best team free throw percentage for a season was the 89-90 Boston Celtics at 83.2 percent. OKC is 4 percent higher than that right now.
“That is the personality of our offense,” Brooks said. “We want to get to the rim, attack the basket and get to the free-throw line. It’s a great asset to have.”
You get the feeling that the Thunder will work out their other problems, that this is just is just the fluctuations one should expect from a young team. Learning to win at the next level, as the hunted and not the hunter, is hard. But if you have one thing you can fall back on — say getting to the line a lot and converting — you have a cushion that allows time to work everything else out.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.