The two break down Russell Westbrook’s incredible start to the NBA season, their defensive success (5:43), Cameron Payne’s status (9:47), how they can get better (28:44), Billy Donovan as a tinkerer (32:51), Domantas Sabonis’ rookie season (37:34) and much more.
Oklahoma City Thunder Wiretap
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have been named the NBA's Players of the Month for November.
This past October and November, James averaged 23.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 9.3 assists in 35.9 minutes as the Cavaliers went 13-2 in the 15 contests he appeared in. He also shot .498 from the field, .362 from beyond the arc and .720 from the foul line. The 6-8 forward won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice in the opening month (weeks ending October 30 and November 6) and registered nine double-doubles and a conference-best three triple-doubles (Oct. 25 vs. New York, Nov. 23 vs. Portland and Nov. 27 at Philadelphia). Among Eastern Conference leaders, James ranked first in plus/minus (+159), tied for first in assists per game (9.3), fourth in field goals made per game (8.5), sixth in points per game (23.5), tied for sixth in double-doubles (9) and tied for 13th in rebounds per game (8.1).
Westbrook is averaging a triple-double through 20 games for the 12-8 Thunder. Westbrook ranks second in the NBA in scoring (31.2 points), second in assists (11.3 assists) and 11th in rebounds (10.5 rebounds).
Scott Brooks was asked a number of questions about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during his first trip back to Oklahoma City. Brooks coached Durant and Westbrook through the 14-15 season.
"He made a decision he thought was best for him," Brooks said of Durant. "At that time, it was something that I knew that he earned that right.
"But now, the last couple of days it's been thinking about things differently because I'm here. I've had a lot of great years with all the guys and we had a good run together. Kevin was a big part of it and I still feel we had a lot of great opportunities to win a championship. We were close, but a lot of things happen. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game. We bounced back in a lot of ways but he made the choice that was best for his family."
Brooks was also asked about Durant and Westbrook's currently icy relationship.
"It doesn't make me feel good," Brooks said. "As a coach of the team ... when you're coaching a group of athletic, competitive-minded players, you're gonna have arguments, you're gonna have disagreements, but you have to be able to keep the group together. I thought the staff did a great job of doing that with a lot of people trying to separate them.
"I think that eventually they're going to (talk) ... I don't think they have. I'll trust you guys that you guys know they haven't spoke(n), and maybe that's probably dangerous on my part to trust you guys. But I don't like to see that. They did so many wonderful things together and they should be proud of that and not be focused on not winning the championship. A lot of things happen in order to win one and (I'm) fortunate we were there and able to (try to) win one."
Russell Westbrook is now averaging a triple-double and is doing so later in the season than any player since Oscar Robertson during the 63-64 season.
Westbrook is averaging 30.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 11.3 assists through 19 games.
"Winning is sustainable," Westbrook said of averaging a triple-double for the season. "My job is to go out and find the best way to win games. Right now, we won three straight, and that is the most important to me."
Robertson averaged his triple-double in a faster era when there were around 25 more possessions, 30 more available rebounds and 30 more shot attempts per game. Adjusted for the 63-64 pace, Westbrook would be averaging 46.6 points, 17.0 assists and 15.6 rebounds per game.
"It's amazing what he's doing," Billy Donovan said of Westbrook. "There's also a part of it that he's probably the most unique player in the NBA because you've got great scorers, great assist guys, great rebounders. There are a lot of great players in this league. But he kind of touches it all in every facet of the game. He gets those numbers, but there's so much more to him than that to me, as a coach."
The Oklahoma City Thunder will no longer wear their navy blue alternate uniforms.
The jersey featured a vertical script of the word "Thunder".
Last postseason, Kevin Durant said Russell Westbrook typically decides which alternates the team wore.
The Thunder last wore the navy blue alternates during their 124-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2016 Western Conference semifinals.
Semaj Christon suffered a concussion after hitting hit head on the knee of Enes Kanter in the third quarter of Oklahoma City's win over the Nets.
Christon is currently in the concussion protocol and has a non-displaced left facial fracture. Christon can play with the fracture when he returns from concussion protocol as long as he plays with a protective mask.
There is no timetable yet for Christon's return.
The Thunder has been using Victor Oladipo alongside Christon in second-unit lineups, and Oladipo is capable of playing point guard.
Oklahoma City has been without Cameron Payne to start the season.
Blake Griffin grew up in Oklahoma but there have been no signs that he would have interest in playing for his hometown Oklahoma City Thunder, according to several sources.
Griffin has spent most of his career playing with one of the greatest point guards of all-time in Chris Paul and joining the Thunder would allow him to play with another special point guard in Russell Westbrook.
Griffin has an early termination option in his deal with the Clippers this summer.
Griffin is averaging 20.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 32.3 minutes per game through 12 games this season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder remain interested in trading for Rudy Gay.
Gay can become a free agent in the 2017 offseason and is not expected to have interest in re-signing with the Sacramento Kings.
The Thunder have always had an interest in bigger wings like Gay, who would allow them to slide Victor Oladipo to a 6th man role and Andre Roberson to shooting guard.
Gay is a career 34.5 percent three-point shooter and is shooting 42.4 percent this season.
James Harden was asked about the state of the Oklahoma City Thunder this season following the departure of Kevin Durant, which came roughly a week after their trade of Serge Ibaka and almost four years after his own trade from the franchise.
Without Durant to share shots with, Westbrook's usage has increased dramatically.
"It's Russ," said Harden. "It's a one-man show."
The Houston Rockets play Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on Wednesday for the first time this season.
Harden and Westbrook are each posting more than 30 points, eight rebounds and nearly 10 assists per game so far this season.
Kevin Durant responded to comments from Greg Oden, who said he will be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history.
"Nonsense. That's nonsense," Durant adamantly told ESPN on Sunday night. "In order for you to be a bust, you have to actually play and show people that you progressed as a player. He didn't get a chance to."
Oden was first overall in 2007 to the Portland Trail Blazers while Durant was picked second by the Seattle SuperSonics.
Oden had previously told Sports Illustrated that he was "one of the biggest busts in NBA history" and that "it would only get worse as Kevin Durant continues doing big things."
Durant defended his draft classmate.
"He didn't want to get hurt. That was the last thing he wanted to do was to get hurt," Durant told ESPN. "That wasn't even in the cards, and he got injured and that was unfortunate. But when he did play, he was a force. Protecting the paint. They were so good with him and LaMarcus down low, with Brandon Roy [and] Andre Miller at the time. They had a nice team. So he was a big part of that.
"He's not a bust. He just didn't play a long time because of injuries, and that's just what it is."
Durant said he desired to play for the Trail Blazers.
"I definitely wanted to be the No. 1 pick, but I landed in a great situation," he said. "I couldn't ask for anything better. I would love to play with LaMarcus and Brandon Roy, but when I was the second pick, I was very excited to get to Seattle. We had traded Ray Allen, like, two picks later, and I was like, 'Wow. They're really opening it up for me and really allowing me to grow as a player.' So I didn't even worry about being the No. 1 pick after that. Once we traded Ray Allen, I was like, 'This is my team.' They're going to allow me to grow and make my mistakes. So I was looking forward to it."