Taking a quick look at the Thunder through the first week of the season:
What happened: The Thunder got through the the week 3-1, sluggishly winning at Utah, losing at Minnesota, before coming home and beating Phoenix and Dallas. Can’t argue with the start. It’s not bad. However, none of those teams made the playoffs a season ago. The schedule picks up in the next week.
What’s next: Friday – at Detroit Sunday – vs. Washington Wednesday – at Clippers Thursday – at Golden State
Who’s up: Gotta be Russell Westbrook, and you gotta think he doesn’t even fully have his legs under him yet. Westbrook was good in his first game back – the third game of the season – but he was better in his second game. If he’s recovering from the knee injury that knocked him out of the playoffs, it sure was hard to tell.
Westbrook went from 5-of-16 shooting against Phoenix to 10-of-20 against Dallas, scoring 21 points, then 22 points. He has 11 assists and nine turnovers in those two games, but expect that ratio to improve once he gets settled a bit.
Who’s down: Serge Ibaka started slowly, but Kendrick Perkins might be on his way out. With the rapid ascension of Steven Adams, Perkins might see his minutes taper off. Yes, Perkins will start tonight in Detroit, but it would be hard to justify him playing more than Adams, at this point. Adams played 20 minutes Wednesday against Dallas, scored six points, had nine rebounds, blocked a shot and had a pair of steals. The 20 minutes was six more than what Perkins played and you can’t find anyone who would argue Adams didn’t deserve every second of it.
Perkins did play his best game of the season, going for four points and six rebounds, but Adams is more athletic, faster and seems to have the upside at this point.
Sixth-man watch: Who do you like so far? Scott Brooks has had the luxury of plugging in James Harden and Kevin Martin the past two years. This year? Well, it’s a fluid situation.
Nick Collison came off the bench first, followed by Reggie Jackson on Wednesday. Jackson is the logical choice now that Westbrook has come back, but expect Jeremy Lamb to get a run at it, too.
The rotation has been extensive. Brooks played 10 guys multiple occasions. That will change as the season goes on. Who’s hurt: Reggie Jackson missed the second half of the game Wednesday against Dallas with a hip contusion. He was said to be day-to-day. Let’s keep an eye on that tonight.
One thing you might have missed: Did you see that comment from Dirk Nowitzki to ESPN Dallas where he called Steven Adams the white Kendrick Perkins? Awesome compliment. Adams took an elbow from Vince Carter on Wednesday but didn’t seem fazed by it. Pretty sure Nowitzki was suggesting Adams is tough and doesn’t back down.
Team temperature: Warm-ish. Tepid start, but heating up now that Westbrook has returned. This team looked powerful and familiar in the win against Dallas. Are they closer to that kind of team or the kind of team that struggled the first few games of the season?