The Oklahoma City started off the season on a rough patch leading many pundits and analysts to question if the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook could gel.
That talk has died down of late as Oklahoma city has won six straight games and 12 of their past 15.
Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony believes the key to their recent success has been Westbrook reverting back to how he is used to playing, mainly not being so concerned with deferring to his teammates.
“I think the fact that Russ is just playing — not trying to defer to anybody, to any one of us — just playing his game and letting us play off him … I think he’s much more effective by doing that rather than deferring to myself or Paul,” Anthony said (h/t ESPN).
“We know what we bring to the game. We understand it. We accept it. And by that, he’s able to just play his game, relax and do what he does best. We need that. We need that Russ out there. Not the one who defers to us. Let us figure it out.”
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan says that Westbrook sets the tone for the rest of the team.
“No question, 100 percent,” Donovan said. “That’s important to us. His energy level lifts our team.”
“He’s taken really good shots. He’s getting to his spots on the floor,” Donovan said. “He is really confident in those shots, and I think he missed a lot of those shots early in the year, and I do think a lot of that had to do with him trying to incorporate these other guys and thinking less of himself. But there’s no question he’s the catalyst to our team, both offensively and defensively.”
Oklahoma City’s early struggles was a feeling out process of sorts as the trio of All-Stars found out how they could effectively play with one another.
“It takes time to get used to one another,” Anthony explained.
“I said this early in the season: Nothing happens overnight. It takes time for everybody to figure it out. This was all new, and it’s still all new, but the more time that goes by, the more we’re able to figure it out. Learning each other, figure out each other’s tendencies. But I think the most important thing is we’re starting to accept what we bring to the game and what we bring to the team, and everybody’s honoring that.”
Their recent success is an indicator that the team is finding it’s rhythm.
“I think they’re getting more and more comfortable with each other, how we’re trying to play, things we’re trying to do, where their shots are coming from,” Donovan said. “Hopefully there’s less thinking and more playing for them.”
Thunder’s Paul George Asked Billy Donovan to Stop Running Plays for Him
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George reportedly asked head coach Billy Donovan to stop running plays for him at one point last season.
George made the comments during an interview with ESPN’s Royce Young:
“I’ve always been a guy to just let the game come to me,” George said.
“Just play the game. If it’s a shot for me, if I can make a play, create for someone else, I’ll do that. A lot of times you run a play, everybody’s watching, everybody’s locked in, everybody’s pulling over and it just makes the game tougher for me
“I like it when I can kind of manipulate and be on attack mode where they don’t know what to do, as opposed to a play other teams [can] scout.”
Donovan added in:
“At times he’s like, ‘Stop—just let me get it,'” Donovan said. “I had to learn him. I can watch things on film and say, ‘Oh, that’s a good play and he made that shot, let’s run that,’ but there’s a lot more to it than that.”
Thunder Exercise Option on Terrance Ferguson
The Oklahoma City Thunder have exercised the third-year option on the contract of Terrance Ferguson.
Ferguson is a former 1st round pick of Oklahoma City back in the 2017 NBA draft, and with increased playing time this season, he is averaging 2.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.6 steals per game for the Thunder.
Thunder announces it has exercised the third-year option on Terrance Ferguson for 2019-20.
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) October 29, 2018
Thunder’s Paul George Talks About Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George had an interesting take on his MVP teammate, point guard Russell Westbrook, saying that the point guard is a bit of an “a**hole” but saying that it is fine to be one.
“You’ve got guys in the league that have that — I would say ‘a–hole’ in them that people think Russ has,” George said, according to Royce Young of ESPN. “And that’s fine. That’s fine to be an a–hole. You should be an a–hole at some point.”
In case you think that by George labeling Westbrook in such a derogatory way is a slight, George explained that it was a good thing.
“The difference is, you’ve got guys that are a–holes that don’t care to be your teammate. Russ is going to be there, regardless if he’s getting on you, if he’s chewing you out,” George explained. “If it’s something he feels he needs to address with you, he’s going to do it. But he’s going to be your teammate at the end of the day. He’s going to have your back, he’s going to stand his ground and he’s going to go to war with you. After, he’s going to laugh, he’s going to joke — that’s Russ. He’s a different type of teammate.”
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