OKC Thunder in the news: Thunder switching, Westbrook’s status, Schröder’s hair

Paul George, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Paul George, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder in the news is bringing in the new season with key Thunder strategy, Westbrook’s status for the game tonight, and a little bit of Schröder’s return to form.

Hello from the top of the day–THE day. Today is the start of the NBA season, which for many of us is like Christmas (though there are always great games then, too). Your long wait is over. No longer must you wander in the wilderness. After a solid day’s work today, you will be in the promised land. The Thunder play the Warriors tonight, and it pays to be up to snuff on the latest OKC Thunder news.

As such, let’s begin.

The Step Back shows us what to watch for:

Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh) wrote a great piece on the OKC Thunder last week, and it gives key insight for fans. Informed fans are the best fans, you know?

Ian talks at length about how the Thunder’s defensive versatility is a product of clever coaching and scheming. Ian notes that, quite often, Thunder players guard players who are not guarding them. Levy used Krishna Nasru’s position estimates to illustrate this. Three Thunder players ranked in in the top 10 for the difference between the positions who guarded them and the positions they guarded.

"For example, Jerami Grant’s quickness and length allowed him to be switched onto wings (shooting guards or small forwards) for about 30 percent of his defensive possessions, according to estimates built by Krishna Narsu off of the NBA’s defensive matchup data. However, on offense, his tendency to be active around the basket as a cutter and offensive rebounder made it difficult for opponents to match up with him in the same way. Narsu estimated that Grant was defended by a wing player on just over 20 percent of his offensive possessions."

In other words, OKC Thunder guards sometimes guarded wings, and some players like Jerami Grant, a forward, frequently guarded perimeter players.

For the Thunder, this versatility was crafted. It is intentional. The front office has been loyal as a whipped dog to their drafting strategy: get as many long, athletic players as possible. The fruits of their labor are seen with the OKC Thunder’s defensive versatility.

For fans, notice this as the Thunder play. You’ll have your first chance tonight. Ask yourself: “Is Alex Abrines guarding the same player who guarded him?” Watch and find out.

Westbrook status up in the air:

The OKC Thunder play the Golden State Warriors tonight, and Russell Westbrook‘s status is a mystery, per Erik Horne:

Westbrook is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery and was anticipated to miss a small amount of the season’s first few games.

OKC have kept the cards close to their vest regarding Westbrook’s status and with good reason. Beating the Warriors is hard enough as it is, so any sort of mystery or uncertainty that can be thrown their way makes for as good a strategy as any.

More from Thunder News

It’s unlikely Russ plays tonight, as he has not even been medically cleared for full contact practice. It’s hard to imagine a player going from “controlled” practice to a full-on game without the typical, gradual recovery.

Expect Dennis Schröder at the helm tonight.

Speaking of Schröder…

The hair is back. I repeat, the hair is back.

Dennis Schröder’s staple blonde patch of hair mysteriously disappeared this offseason, much to the chagrin of Thunder fans.

Fear not, Thunder nation. Dennis Schroder has brought back his cosmological trademark with a new, Thunder-focused twist.

Schröder’s embrace of the Thunder is encouraging, given his distaste for his time in Atlanta. Let’s hope that excitement spills onto the court.

Next. OKC offseason report card – Grading every Sam Presti move. dark

Okay, close this article, check out the other great game day articles on T.I. and start mentally preparing for the game tonight. Thunder up!