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#pounditTuesday, March 2, 2021

Articles tagged: Oklahoma City Thunder

Look: Thunder change uniforms at halftime after total disaster

Thunder Hawks uniform

The Oklahoma City Thunder had to change uniforms at halftime of their game on Friday night after their opponents wore the wrong jerseys.

The Thunder were facing the Atlanta Hawks. OKC wore their orange jerseys. The Hawks were wearing their red jerseys. The result was a lot of uniform confusion on the court.

Typically only one team wears their color uniforms and the other wears white to avoid such confusion.

According to the Thunder, the Hawks were in the wrong uniforms but could not switch because they didn’t have alternatives. So that’s why the Thunder changed.

“The Hawks are wearing the incorrect uniform color for the game. The league process of inputting uniform colors should have caught the orange/red combo, but because the Hawks only have red uniforms on the trip, the Thunder will switch to white,” a spokesperson said.

We’d like to say that this sort of thing isn’t common, but unfortunately we’ve seen plenty of errors like this, including one just two months ago.

Damian Lillard trolls Thunder with his new shoe

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard’s playoff buzzer-beater against the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of the coldest shots in NBA history. Now the moment is being further immortalized.

The Portland Trail Blazers star released a new shoe with Adidas this week. The sneaker comes in Thunder colors of orange and blue in reference to his series-winning shot against them in the 2019 playoffs. The insole also notes his stat line from that game of 50 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

Lillard’s shot was the most memorable moment of a deep playoff run for the Blazers that year. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. That is the furthest that Lillard has ever been in the postseason as well as the furthest that Portland has gone since 2000.

Some may say that Lillard is lame for continuing to celebrate what amounts to a first-round victory. But the shot completely splintered the Thunder as we know them. Only Hamidou Diallo, who was not even active during the series, is still on the team from that year. Lillard still very much enjoys trolling other former members of that OKC squad as well.

Grading the Lakers’ trade for Dennis Schroder from the Thunder

Dennis Schroder

The Los Angeles Lakers took a massive stride forward in their quest to repeat as NBA champions after agreeing to acquire Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder. A lightning-quick point-guard with the ability to stop on a dime and effortlessly elevate into his vastly improved jumper, Schroder has become one of the premier sparkplug scoring options in the NBA.

As Sam Presti and the Thunder look to stockpile future first-round picks, the return package of the 28th pick in this year’s notoriously weak draft class (Jaden McDaniels) plus the shell of Danny Green could be considered light for one of the best sixth men in the NBA. For Oklahoma City, the trade represents the seemingly long-overdue start to the rebuild many felt was inevitable after trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George last offseason. With just one year remaining on his contract, Green is an obvious candidate to be a part of a future deal as the Thunder continue to amass future assets.

Biggest Winner: Dennis Schroder

After playing the best basketball of his life this season with the Thunder, Schroder now has the chance to continue to redefine his narrative while playing on the biggest stage of his career. Once perceived as a player capable of putting up gaudy individual statistics without enhancing his team’s chance at winning, Schroder rounded out his game and became a far more balanced player this year. This improvement was due to his commitment to the defensive end of the court, while also exercising better judgment on his shot selection offensively.

Despite mid-range shots falling out of vogue around the league due to the rise of the analytic movement, Schroder and the Thunder proved there’s still tremendous value to be had in such shots. As a team, Oklahoma City shot the highest percentage on mid-range jumpers this season at 46.9 percent. Their 464 made representing the fifth-highest total in the league. Schroder finished in the 97th percentile for guards on long mid-range jumpers attempted (jump shots taken past the free-throw line but in front of the 3-point line) while converting on a very efficient 46.8 percent of them.

For as good as Schroder was offensively this season, his improvements as a defender were arguably more paramount for his progression as a player. Despite only standing 6-foot-1, Schroder was frequently utilized to guard larger players thanks to his 6-foot-8 wingspan. One of the best plays from Schroder’s season perfectly highlights that newfound defensive intensity.

Schroder started that play on Marcus Smart, but once he saw Kemba Walker turn back towards his own baseline, he immediately brought the double team. In an instant, Walker found himself in a position no ball-handler wants to be in, trapped between Schroder and Chris Paul. Schroder then relied on his long-reach to cleanly swipe the ball from Walker and glide in for the easy game-sealing lay-up.

Oklahoma City displayed an uncanny ability to win seemingly impossible games all season, with Schroder’s fingerprints all over some of the team’s most memorable plays. With a sixth-man extraordinaire capable of delivering moments like the play below, the defending champs are going to be even tougher next season.

Trade Grades:
Los Angeles Lakers: A
Oklahoma City Thunder: C

Here’s how many draft picks Thunder have after Chris Paul trade

Sam Presti

The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen numerous star players leave via free agency and trade in recent years, but it would be an understatement to say they have plenty to show for it.

The Thunder entered an obvious rebuilding phase last year when they traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers. They acquired Chris Paul in the Westbrook deal, which allowed them to remain competitive while also having their younger players learn from a future Hall of Famer. Now that OKC traded Paul to the Phoenix Suns on Monday, what is left?

Draft picks — so many draft picks. If there were a course on stockpiling first-round NBA Draft picks, Thunder general manager Sam Presti would be the instructor. Once the CP3 deal is complete, Oklahoma City will own the rights to 16 first-round draft picks over the next six years. That’s right, 16. Here’s a breakdown:

Trading star players is never easy to sell to fans. But in an era where NBA superstars basically have the power to force trades whenever they please, Presti has done a masterful job of maximizing the return.

The Thunder should be able to build through the draft, but they also have the flexibility of being able to trade first-round picks for star players if the opportunity arises. Ownership has to be pleased with Presti, and rightfully so.

Chris Paul traded to Suns from Thunder

Chris Paul

NBA teams were allowed to make trades beginning on Monday, and the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted no time moving Chris Paul.

Paul has been traded to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that also involves Ricky Rubio, according to multiple reports. The trade will send Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix in exchange for for Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick.

There were reports last week that the Suns had conversations with the Thunder about Paul, but it was unclear if CP3 would be receptive to playing for Phoenix. The 35-year-old wants to play for a contender, so there was some question about whether he felt the Suns qualify as one. Apparently he does.

The Suns are not considered one of the better teams in the NBA, but they went 8-0 in the NBA Bubble in Orlando and may be turning a corner. A recent report claimed Devin Booker wants out of Phoenix, but the trade for Paul could, and likely will, change that.

Paul, 35, is set to make $85 million over the next two years. He averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game last season, proving he is still capable of producing.

Mark Daigneault promoted to head coach of Thunder

Thunder logo

The Oklahoma City Thunder are promoting from within to fill their head coaching vacancy, as former assistant Mark Daigneault will be named the team’s next head coach.

Daigneault has reached an agreement with the Thunder to replace former head coach Billy Donovan, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Daigneault, 35, has been with the Thunder for six years. He spent five seasons as the OKC Blue’s G-League coach, compiling a winning percentage of .572 and winning three division titles. He was an assistant under Donovan last season when the Thunder earned the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Wojnarowski reports that Thunder general manager Sam Presti is excited over Daigneault’s proven track record with the organization and the connection he has made with players. Oklahoma City could have as many as 15 first-round picks in the next seven drafts, and they are trying to rebuild with a younger roster.

Now that the Thunder have hired a 35-year-old coach with no prior NBA head coaching experience, the next logical move may be to trade Chris Paul. Paul is set to earn $85 million over the next two seasons, and we know of at least one team that has expressed interest in acquiring him.

How Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder defied all expectations this season

Chris Paul

When the clock struck zero in Game 7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets series, no one was in more agony than Chris Paul. Throughout the series, Paul’s leadership was a constant topic of discussion. The discussions all mirrored a similar sentiment about how impressive Paul’s “comeback season” was and how the Thunder defied the infamous preseason projections that gave them just a 0.2 percent chance to make the playoffs. For the NBA community, pushing the Rockets to a nail-biting Game 7 was reason enough to celebrate for the overperforming Thunder. For Paul, however, there was only agony.

Here we will examine how the Thunder went from a team few expected to succeed this season to one that surpasses nearly all expectations.


Thunder-Rockets boycotting playoff game, Lakers-Blazers may do the same

The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to boycott a playoff game on Wednesday. They will not be the last.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets will reportedly boycott Game 5 of their Western Conference playoff series, which was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Notably, Chris Paul, the star guard for the Thunder, is the president of the NBPA.

There was no word yet on the third game of the day between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. However, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that those teams were also leaning toward boycotting.

The Thunder-Rockets contest marks the second game of the day to be boycotted in protest of police violence. The Bucks refused to play Game 5 of their series earlier Wednesday.

Oklahoma politician threatens action against Thunder for kneeling

The vast majority of NBA players have chosen to kneel during the national anthem before games, and one Oklahoma politician is warning the Thunder that they will face financial consequences if their players continue to take part in the demonstrations.

Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) issued a statement on Friday night threatening to reexamine the Thunder’s tax benefits in the state of Oklahoma if players continue to kneel during the national anthem. He called the protests “anti-patriotic.” Roberts also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for having “ties to Marxism.”

“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for,” Roberts wrote in the statement, via Hicam Raache of KFOR. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.

“If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024.”

Roberts said the funds that go toward helping the Thunder may be better served supporting the police department than organizations that are trying to defund the police. The Thunder did not respond when Raache sought comment from the team.

Most NBA players have taken a knee during the anthem since the season resumed, though a few have chosen to stand and explained their rationale.

Most crucial questions facing Western Conference’s elite

Anthony Davis Lakers

The NBA is gearing up for a return next month, and the expectation is that we will have playoff basketball. As the Western Conference’s elite teams prepare for the return of the season, we take a look at the most critical question that will define each team’s chances at contending for a championship.

(You can find the biggest questions facing the Eastern Conference’s top teams here)