The Thunder dropped their first game of the season to the Warriors on opening night, but contrary to one some people thought, OKC remained competitive throughout and were down only a possession with a minute to play. Should Thunder fans take this as a “good loss” or a “bad loss,” given OKC had a shot to win in the end and failed in some basic areas such as free throws and defensive rebounding?
Thunder fans will be eagerly watching, endlessly debating, and (probably) inevitably complaining about the shooting guard rotation for the first several months of the season. It’s always a bad idea to make judgments after one game, but it was also a bad idea to have that second serving of ice cream, and I don’t regret that either, so here goes:
Ferguson was a complete no-show offensively. I’m not judging him purely on his lack of box-score stats, either. There were times when I actually couldn’t figure out who the 5th player for Oklahoma City was, because he was basically invisible on that end. The Thunder never asks for much production from the SG spot, but usually you can expect some action, whether that’s screening, cutting, and fighting for rebounds. Ferguson mostly did... none of those. He watched 50-50 balls with disinterest, some of which he should have easily gotten. This was a Perry Jones-like performance.
Defensively, it seemed to be mostly a wash tonight while guarding Klay Thompson. Klay got a LOT of wide open shots, but just couldn’t get them to drop. Ferguson did contest some of his shots, but also got behind on several screens that put the defense in a compromising position. Hamidou Diallo seemed to get through screens a bit cleaner, but needs to learn to absorb contact better. Several times he had good position, but when he was bumped, he slid back too far and gave up enough space to allow a shot. Timing that bump and using his hands will help prevent that separation.
Ultimately, this game was an almost-guaranteed loss from the outset. Keeping it close was encouraging. There were some lingering issues that we’ve seen in previous seasons that are concerning, but once Westbrook and (hopefully) Roberson are back, the talent level is there to compete with almost anyone, if the players (and coaches) and maximize it.
I think Bobby and I agree that even in a loss it was encouraging, but since he looked at it from the SG spot, I’ll take it elsewhere. I was most intrigued by the front court. Neither Patterson or Grant were amazing, but Patterson showed some chops defensively in his positioning and, though he couldn’t buy a bucket, did show his potential on the other end.
Grant flashed his usual athleticism but again, no shot for the night. Having these two if either can find a somewhat reliable jumper (Patterson has traditionally been a good shot) may be a strength.
Also, it was nice to see the two newest bigger additions play pretty well. Schroder certainly had his ups and downs, but overall I can’t deny he’s going to be a far better backup than anything the Thunder have had since Reggie Jackson and playing alongside PG he looked like a very good fit. Trading for him just got a guy who filled a need much more than what Melo brought and it seemed fairly evident last night.
Nerlens Noel also provided some solid rebounding and defense under the basket when Adams took a break, which was sorely missing a season ago.
So yes, it was a loss, but overall given the Thunder were down two starters and one of them a recent MVP, I’d say I left feeling better than I’d have expected.
Do you think OKC’s loss to Golden State should be taken as a plus or a minus?
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OKC showed heart and competitiveness - I like what I see!
The Thunder had chances to actually win this game, but avoidable mistakes cost them.