The 11th annual NBA general manager poll was released Monday and the Thunder was voted as “Best Homecourt Advantage” and “Most Fun Team to Watch.”
GMs voted three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant as the “Player to Take the Last Shot with Game on the Line” and teammate Russell Westbrook was chosen “Fastest Player with the Ball.”
Miami was picked to repeat as NBA champions and the Los Angeles Lakers were chosen to win the Western Conference.
The complete survey can be found on NBA.com.
WALKER RUSSELL RELEASED
The Thunder on Monday waived guard Walker Russell, who appeared in one preseason contest and finished with five points and one assist in six minutes.
The OKC roster now stands at 18. The NBA roster maximum is 15 and teams must make their final cuts by 4 p.m. next Monday.
“Walker was good for us,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It's just one of those tough decisions you have to make when there aren't enough (available) spots.”
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins returned to the court slightly ahead of schedule on Sunday night against Denver, completing his recovery from July 19 surgery on his left wrist. Perkins had been hopeful to return by the regular-season opener on Nov. 1 at San Antonio.
How much of Perkins' return had to do with him being grumpy about not playing?
“A big portion of it,” Brooks said with a smile. “He's pretty intimidating at times. We fought a few days during practice. He wanted to do more and I said no, and he wanted to do more and I said no. It was back and forth a little bit, but he understands we wanted him 100-percent healthy before he stepped on the court and played all-out. … He's kept himself in great shape. He's done a lot of side work with coach (Mark) Bryant, and that's when we had our fights because he didn't want to run and do all the extra work on the side.”
Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha (thigh bruise) said they both felt fine Monday, the morning after making their first starts of the preseason. “Felt a little sore, but nothing major,” Sefolosha said.
DRAWING A CROWD
The Thunder sold out all three in-state preseason games, two at Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203) and one at the BOK Center (18,233) in Tulsa.
A sellout crowd is anticipated at United Center (20,500) in Chicago on Tuesday and also at Intrust Bank Arena (15,004) in the Thunder's preseason finale against Dallas on Wednesday in Wichita, Kan.
“Not only are they selling out, they're showing up,” Brooks said of the in-state crowds. “I'm sure a lot of arenas because of a season-ticket base are sold out, but they're actually showing up on a weekday game in an exhibition. That tells you how much our fans appreciate our players, and it goes both ways. Our players appreciate the fans for coming out.”
OKC also drew 17,786 fans against Utah at EnergySolutions Arena on Oct. 12. In its preseason opener two days earlier against Houston in Hidalgo, Texas, the Thunder played before a crowd of 5,198 at State Farm Arena, which has a capacity of 5,500 for basketball.
Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka has the look of a stretch-4 player, burying three 3-pointers in the last two games and going 2 for 2 against Denver.
“That's definitely a fine line there because once you start making a few, you think that's all you need to do,” Brooks said. “We still need Serge to stay in the range where he's going to make a high percentage, but he's worked on it and he makes them in practice. It's not something that we're just experimenting with during the games.
“I can't imagine him taking more than one a game. I think from 22 feet (from the corner) he can knock that down hopefully at a 40-percent clip.”
Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell and fullback Trey Millard attended Sunday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena and received loud ovations when shown on the scoreboard.
Brooks on Ibaka and Nick Collison taking more 3-point attempts from the corner this season: “That's what we do here. We're a stretch-4 factory.”