For their opening summer league game in Orlando, the Thunder drew the Magic - defending Eastern Conference champs. Granted, the Magic weren't exactly serving up their "A team" with the likes of Dwight Howard, but it would still be a good first test for a lot of the Thunder's young talent. The Thunder prevailed with a 88-77 victory.
Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I'll link you to a couple of FanPosts that went up during the day that contain a lot of informative content and comments. Then I'll add my own analysis after:
Also, a big kudos to ElecticPencils as WTLC's name was dropped during the live broadcast as a Thunder blog to read. Great job! Without any further ado, we'll push onward to the analysis.
There were quite a few top performers from the Thunder. The starting lineup for the was Serge Ibaka, D.J. White, Shaun Livingston, Russell Westbrook, and Kyle Weaver. Westbrook led the way in scoring with 22 points. He was one of five Thunder players in double digits. Westbrook managed to get to the free throw line a lot, not surprising with his slashing style of play. He converted from the charity stripe 16 of 18 times, so he made the Magic pay. That was the good news. However, Westbrook also committed 4 turnovers, which would project to about 6 turnovers over the course of an entire 48 minutes. Once Russell learns to take care of the ball, he could be an elite point guard, as evidenced by his 9 assists. He rounded out the line with 5 rebounds. Of course, I'm sure he didn't assuage many of your concerns about his shooting as he only went 3 for 11 from the field.
More after the jump!
Everyone was interested to see how Harden did, and the early report is "good". He was as efficient as advertised, shooting 67% from the floor (6 of 9). He was equally lethal from three point range (2 for 3), and he didn't miss a free throw (3 for 3). All of this added up to 17 points. His line was rounded out by 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block, but he did cough up the ball 3 times. For the record, Harden was the only player to convert a three pointer for the Thunder.
Other notables included Serge Ibaka (13 points on 6-8 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks), D.J. White (13 points on 6-10 shooting, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block), Shaun Livingston (7 points, 6 assists, and NO turnovers), and B.J. Mullens (11 points on 4-9 shooting, 3 rebounds). Kyle Weaver really faded into the woodwork, at least in the box score, and Robert Vaden and DeVon Hardin did not receive enough minutes to make enough of an impact.
Here are the things that jumped out at me the most:
- Harden looks pretty good. I know it's only the first game, but he looks to be a bit ahead of the curve.
- D.J. White really helped his case to make the team. If he keeps this up, we may see him in Oklahoma City for at least part of the season.
- Shaun Livingston looked like a good backup at the point. His assist-to-turnover ratio was as good as you can get it (infinity) because he took care of the ball and set up his teammates. Sure he didn't scorch the nets with all kinds of points, but pretty much all you need from a backup point guard is a guy who makes smart decisions and passes the ball well.
- Westbrook is a budding star. He ate a lot of guys for lunch. However, he still needs to work on improving his shooting percentage and reducing turnovers.
And with that, I'll stop over-analyzing the first summer league game and wait for tomorrow's game!