Zorgon's Lingering Thoughts on Pre-Season Game 1: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks

Dana's recap will be on the site shortly.

The Pre-Season usually doesn't tell you much. All of the stars aren't playing, players aren't trying their hardest, and the final result is completely irrelevant. However, it is usually a good gauge of how certain players have changed over the off-season, or how new players are going to adjust to their new team. Here, I attempt to answer some of the burning questions in my mind after our first game in six months. Sometimes I play a bit of devil's advocate, but it's only in the name of fully exploring the issue at hand.

Is the new-look Kendrick Perkins really THAT much better?

Yes: On top of losing 30 pounds, he's also recovered immensely from a knee injury that plagued him during our run last season. During this game, he filled up the stat sheet with impressive blocks, solid free throw shooting, and more mobility in the paint. He never tired running up the floor, and he was more of an offensive factor than he's ever been.

No: With the lost bulk, Kendrick Perkins has to completely change his game. And his game is now mostly that of a poor Serge Ibaka. He's more mobile than he was, but he'll never be as quick or athletic as Serge. Plus, he can't defend against players backing him down in the paint anymore. We went from having Big Man A and Big Man B to having two of Big Man A, and that doesn't do very well for the needed diversity on our team.

How valuable is Daequan Cook?

Valuable: The Thunder still struggle to find offense in pinches, and Daequan Cook provides the answer. In this game, he hit some really tough threes, including one at the end of the shot clock, and one of his misses was a desperation attempt at the end of the quarter. Sure, he'll have his off-nights, but Cook is still easily one of the best marksmen in the league, and a solid addition to this team.

Not Valuable: Okay, so he hit a few threes during this game. But that's all he did. Sure, every team needs its' specialists, but it's always possible to get someone who can shoots threes and play defense, like Shane Battier, or get someone who can shoot threes and drive the ball. Daequan Cook is neither

Below: Thabo in the Starting Lineup, Westbrook's Assist to Turnover Ratio, Lazar Hayward's Viability!
Can we still really justify having Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup?
Yes: I could sit here all day and talk to you about how great of a defensive player Thabo is, but one of his greatest assets is his ability to get it to the right man in transition. During the first quarter, he completed a really sick bounce pass to KD in front of two defenders which led to easy points.

No: Come on, we all saw what James Harden can do tonight. He scored higher than Russell Westbrook, who didn't even have to play against Jason Kidd.

Will Russell Westbrook ever improve his assist to turnover ratio?

Yes: Yes, he will. Tonight had a few unfortunate accidents, but his court vision and ability to see other players on the floor is improving. This time last year, his assists mostly amounted to having the ball while walking up the floor or dumping it off to Nenad Krstic. Now, he does a better job of finding the open man in transition and creating opportunities for other players.

No: Russell Westbrook is what he is, a high-scoring and recklessly driving point guard. He'll never be Jason Kidd, and the ball is in his hands for a lot longer than most point guards have it. So no matter how good he becomes, he'll always have his turnovers in the typical places, like an absurd cross-court pass or an ill-fated drive to the basket.

How good is Lazar Hayward? Really?

Good: Of course, it's hard to determine anything from such a short time spent playing. But he does a good job of anticipating where certain players will be on defense and where his fellow players can help him on offense. I don't know yet whether that translates into rotation-level material, but he's certainly a nice insurance policy if Reggie Jackson has trouble developing.

Not Good: Sometimes he used a bit too much pressure defense, getting lured into triple team a driving player who was going to pass the ball anyway, or going too hard for the steal and committing a foul. He also makes his intention to drive a bit too apparent by standing too far behind the three point line. This also can result in his being pretty uninvolved in certain plays, freeing up his defender for help defense. At one point, he had a miscommunication with Eric Maynor as to where he was supposed to be on the floor, resulting in a turnover. But that might just be him getting adjusted to his new team.

Do you have any lingering thoughts from our first pre-season game? Post a comment!
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