The Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Detroit Pistons at home, 97-91. Erstwhile cup of coffee Thunder guy Ish Smith dropped a dagger 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to ice it after All-Star center Andre Drummond powered the Pistons to their first pre-season win under head coach Dwane Casey.
The Thunder were led by new acquisition Dennis Schroder who finished with a pretty good Westbrookian 21-9-5, shot 5-16 from the floor, but 9-9 from the free throw line. Paired with him, Steven Adams finished with 17-12 (9 offensive) on the night, including several nifty sets:
Schroder to Adams. Be still, my heart. pic.twitter.com/UspiLIXXi2— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) October 4, 2018
The game largely turned in the 3rd quarter when OKC’s starters signed off on the night trailing Detroit. Led by Ray Felton and the gang, the squad made their run in the 3rd and 4th. Unfortunately, what Fats giveth, he can also taketh away, as Felton shot only 5-14 on the night, often forcing a number of jumpers when the offense bogged down. Not unexpected at this early stage of the season, but then again, we’ve seen this story line before and I hope it’s just the residual from years past.
- Schroder is pretty nice, another downhill attacker (like Russ) who can finish at the rim and hit the roll man with ease. He also has much better shotmaking ability in that area I refer to as the “dead zone” in the lane — about 8 feet out when it’s not quite a jump shot but not quite a layup either. What will be a real key to Schroder’s development is...
- The development of Nerlens Noel. Noel had a solid game, even if he missed a number of point blank put-back dunks that could have tipped the outcome in OKC’s favor. Although he isn’t as massive as Steven Adams, he plays offense in a similar fashion, looking for spots to roll to the rim. If he can develop good chemistry with Schroder, that’s definitely a viable formula.
- Though let’s not forget about Jerami Grant, either. Truth be told, he played a poor game overall, but that’s in part because the offense didn’t really put him in a position to succeed. Grant became the surprisingly adept PnR guy late last season, and Schroder would do well to build rapport with Grant. However, if you’re just sticking Grant on the perimeter and looking for him to drive at the rim, you’re not playing to his strengths as a dynamic finisher. His 1-9 shooting, mixed with many misses at the rim, is a testament to that.
- Adams — no 3-point attempts yet. Come on big fella, Drummond spotted up for three of them!