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Thunder vibes, Emanuel Kwekley’s interest, Adam Silver and more: Mike Vorkunov’s NBA notebook

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the NBAThe most interesting project entered Brooklyn on Sunday and has been rolled on networks. I have become a habit of Oklahoma City Thunder lately. Over the past month, the Thunder have crossed that murky level between a potential and an actual good team. Sentiment is very good with OKC right now.

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Oklahoma City has 22 wins already this season, close to 24 from last season. The Thunder won four straight games, all by double digits, heading into Friday night’s game in Sacramento. Suddenly, thunder-Kings It became a delicious and joyful match.

This, of course, is somewhat surprising. Thunder wasn’t supposed to be this good this season. They were seen, basically, as long-term psychics against the rest of the league. They’ve rounded up an interesting knack and a Costco shopping cart full of choices. This list is very small, and before the season it is still mostly not established that the present is the future.

But the results came. Not just the record – 22-23, tied for the eighth-best record in the Western Conference with, among all teams, Los Angeles Clippers, and just a game away from avoiding the Play-In tournament – but the core numbers are nice, too. The Thunder actually have the fifth best point differential in their conference. Since December 17, Oklahoma City has the sixth-best record in the league and the fifth-best net rating. The past month has not been so fraught, with the rankings reflecting an ever rosier picture.

“We don’t really pay attention to those,” Thunder guard Gilgos Alexander Tea He said. “I can say that in general about the group. We don’t really go to them after games and check them out. But we’re kind of aware. We know we won 24 games over the last year and we played 22 the year before. We know we’re getting better. I think the guys are addictive.” Kind of on the feel and they keep growing.”

Geljus Alexander, of course, is the pivot. He averages 30.5 points per game and has taken on a leading role. He will most likely be at the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City next month; It might even be worth starting. Gilgeous-Alexander has been a bundle of galore this season with his burly 6-foot-6 frame that slides through defenses. He mixes a feisty jumper while hitting the line regularly (10.3 free throws per game).

It attracts attention, but Thunder proves that they have talent on Earth. Lottery selection Jalen Williams He broke through the starting lineup, shooting 50 percent from the floor and showing flashes as a scorer and playmaker. Alexey Bokushevsky He was making progress before he fractured his left leg last month. Isaiah Joe He inexplicably became one of the league’s leading scorers this season, hitting 44.4 percent from his 3s after losing at 7 on Wednesday against Indiana Pacers.

However, no one jumped out quite like that Josh Gede during the past month. The No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has been more aggressive and productive — 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 14 games since Dec. 21 — and those two are tied.

The Jedi began to learn how to use his 6-foot-8 body as a physical weapon. He finished throwing the ball over the net guard Nick Claxton on Sunday and gave a “very small” sloppy cue on the way back onto the field, part of his season-high 21 shots.

“He’s definitely physically on command,” said Oklahoma City coach Marc Dignault. “It definitely shows. Early in the year, I thought he was just trying to shoot people, and now he’s just taking up space. Then when he’s creating that kind of space and his size and strength, he’s putting things around the basket. He’s getting a lot more lately.” .

Gilgeous-Alexander was more brief.

“He’s confident, very confident,” he said. “He knows what to bring to the table. When he kicks your ass, he’ll tell you.”

The Thunder have also built a roster to play in their own style, with replaceable, similarly sized wings and forelimbs. Most minutes have gone to players between the ages of 6-4 and 6-9 – 77.5 percent overall, and that’s been intense since Pokuševski’s injury. Oklahoma City can be used Mike Muscala as large or traditional Kenrich Williams And Darius Bazley As nominal centers in small ball formations who can shape teams with their sporting style. Kenrich Williams started against the Pacers, Jaylen Williams He did in Brooklyn but sat out the entire fourth quarter while Pazeley played the entire period. These alignments are strong. When Kenrich Williams is at center, the Thunder are over 18.9 per 100 possessions so far this season at 316 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass; They are plus 1.9 in 339 possessions with Bazley as the single largest.

Next year, the Thunder won’t have to play small. Chet Holmgren He waits. They’ll get another versatile player who can shoot, dribble, and defend, and that just happens to be 7-1 Holmgren.

And Thunder still has a truckload of picks in its arsenal. Next year, for example, they have their own first-round selection, the Houston Rockets selection (top four protected), the Clippers selection (via Paul George trade) f Utah JazzChoose if it lands outside the top ten.

That they are now at a crossroads where all of that is being met with a roster that can win games makes for an interesting place at the right time. It would be easy to say Thunder is ahead of schedule, except internally they may not have one in place. Sam Presti, longtime OKC general manager, is fond of talking about eliminating time from his view of the team’s current rebuild.

Instead, the Thunder have adopted their own version of the operation as their calling card, mixing Silicon Valley dogmas with self-help standby rules. Daigneault lives by one of the principles he gleaned from The Four Agreements, the 1997 bestselling book of wisdom: Make no assumptions.

“There’s no timeline,” Denault said. “This is the most important thing. There is no timeline. There is a way of working that we have complete confidence in and we will bet on it. And that is, first of all, competitive guys and our team that we have known to develop, help them grow through experiences, teach professionalism and have a good environment.” And try to play a style that evolves forward.

“When results come in, they come. And how they come in, they come. There’s a lot of ups and downs too. We’re obviously playing well now. We’ve had a bit of success here with our heads down. So we’re not going to raise our heads and start looking around. We’re going to keep our heads down.”

Quickley seizes the opportunity

Tom Thibodeau has never been shy about playing his favorite players. He made a career out of it. However, the New York Knicks’ rotations over the past month have been something to watch.

like the athlete‘s Nix Writer Fred Katz (and Master of the Bon Arts) pointed out that Knicks was basically Six man spinning ride for more than a month. Since December 27, no team has had fewer minutes and points off the bench. The Knicks have four players in the top 18 RPMs per game in that span, including No. 1 and No. 3. When Thibodeau loves, he loves hard.

That was in favor Emmanuel Quickly. He plays the kind of minutes Knicks fans crave during his first two seasons in New York. He played in 17 games of 30 minutes or more over his first two seasons, but has averaged 36.8 games per night over his last 12 games. He has played over 30 minutes 13 times this season.


Emmanuel Kwikli (Vincent Carcetta / USA Today)

Quickley was also productive, averaging 18.3 points and 4.2 assists. While his 3-point shooting is not yet as high as expected—only 32.9 percent this season—he makes it with playmaking skill and solid defense. It is a nice complement to Galen Bronson In the backcourt, with length and tenacity.

This long stretch seems to have solidified his status with the Knicks. Katz reported that the Knicks were willingly reaching out to other teams about him earlier this season, but an NBA executive said this week he doesn’t think Quickley can be had in a trade anymore.

We’ll see what happens to Knicks’ rotation now that Thibodeau has to deal with the final blow, which is an injury Mitchell Robinson. Robinson broke his right thumb Wednesday night in a loss Washington Wizards He underwent surgery on Thursday, and the team said he would be re-evaluated in three weeks. Robinson has been a difference-maker, with a team score of 10.5 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the field than outside of it, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Adam Silver speaks

There were some interesting tidbits from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s press conference Thursday in Paris while the NBA was there for Chicago BullsDetroit Pistons Game.

• Silver stated that in an effort to schedule more international games, the league will discuss team travel rules in its discussion with the NBPA during current collective bargaining agreement talks. Silver said it is “very likely” that the NBA will play a game in Paris again next season. The NBA is also looking into trying to get a game in Greece. He mentioned that silver Giannis Antikonmo He told him several times that he wanted dollars To play a game in his home country.

• Silver was asked about the increase in scoring this season and if the league would do anything to try to mitigate that. He doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with where things are now.

“We’re not traditional because we’re afraid of making changes,” Silver said. “We’re constantly re-rating. That’s the jobs of Joe Dumars and Byron Spruell, along with our competition committee. We’ll continue to look at it. I think fans are telling us, and responding with record ratings, that the game is as exciting as ever. But we’re not afraid to re- Examine it. Generally, we don’t make changes to the rules in the middle of a course or during the season. But we sit at the end of the season, look at all the data, and we’ll evaluate it. But it’s interesting.

“As I mentioned at the top of the press conference, four of the top five scorers are internationals, and these great shooters are coming from everywhere now. We want a multifaceted game. I hear some of the criticisms leveled at us that we want everything to be 3-point shooting. For For those who’ve been covering the league for so long, I remember people were saying it’s all about dunking and players can’t shoot. Now they’re shooting so well, it must be more of an inside game. We’ll keep looking at it.”

• Silver also reiterated that he wants the NBA to lower his minimum age to 18. He said he had brought this proposal to the league in CBA talks and “that’s on the table in collective bargaining at the moment.”

As for the CBA talks, Silver didn’t have an update. he f NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio They were both in Paris on Thursday, and he said NBA and NBPA officials have been meeting all week in New York.

Not cool, San Antonio

the spurs They’re in danger of making history, but definitely not the kind Gregg Popovich would love.

If a 50/40/90 shooting season was the gold standard, what would you call it if a team allowed its opponents to do so? Opposing teams shoot 50.5 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from 3 against Spurs this season – both league highs. This means that the Spurs are on the verge of giving up the gold standard in shooting during an entire season. Only four players this season have qualified for the leaderboard and scored at least 100 3s, reaching the 50/40 plateau, while Spurs are in danger of letting the entire league do it against them.

Not only will the Spurs be the first team ever to drop a 50/40 season, according to Basketball Reference, but no team has even allowed opponents to shoot 50/39 against them in an entire season. Just One (1990-1991 Nuggets) even allowed the 50/37 season.

stock deal

The NBA struck another stock deal this week. It announced a partnership with StellarAlgo, the fan data company, and said it has taken a “meaningful” stake in the company.

It’s another step for the league’s investment arm, which has taken stakes in about 20 companies so far as it continues to build its venture capital operation.

(Top photo of Shay Gilgios Alexander: Mitchell Leaf/Getty Images)

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