Oklahoma City’s new NBA franchise played its first game today, and it resulted in a loss for the soon-to-be named home team.
Indiana 95, OKC 78.
I got to check out most of the first half of the game live online and bits and pieces of the second half. My first impression, I think we’re going to be surprised by Russell Westbrook. Before I continue, let me say that this is summer league and not many NBA players are on these teams. The best player Indiana could throw at OKC was former OSU forward Stephen Graham. It will obviously be a much different level of competition come November.
Still, Westbrook, the fourth overall pick in last month’s draft, showed flashes of his talents and what he possibly could bring to Oklahoma City immediately. You could get a good sense of some of his skills after just a few minutes of watching him.
He showed a great deal of poise playing the point guard position, bringing the ball up with confidence and more often than not getting the team into its offense without much trouble. He got to the rim whenever he wanted, showing the much-hyped athleticism we’ve heard about since the team drafted him. His speed was impressive. He finished at the rim once he got there and on several occasions made nifty passes following his penetration, setting up teammates with easy layups and dunks. Westbrook also showed some 3-point shooting ability, displaying a fluid and comfortable stroke from deep although he made just one of three 3s.
His final stat line: 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 fouls, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 31 minutes.
Westbrook had 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds after the first three quarters. Second-year forward Jeff Green scored a game-high 21 points with five rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes. He had five turnovers and one blocked shot.
I’m looking forward to seeing more from Westbrook throughout the week. Oklahoma City will play Orlando on Tuesday and New Jersey on Wednesday, and neither team has a point guard on the roster who figures to pose any real challenge to Westbrook. Thursday’s game against Miami, however, might be a good test. The Heat has Kansas guard Mario Chalmers, a good athlete and a pest on the defensive end. Chalmers scored 11 points with six assists and four steals in 25 minutes today against Chicago and No. 1 overall pick Derrick Rose.
Westbrook is then scheduled to go head to head with Rose on Friday. Westbrook scored a team-high 22 points against Rose’s Memphis squad during the Final Four. Rose had 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead his team to a 78-63 victory. I didn’t see the Bulls-Heat game today, but judging by the box score Rose struggled against Chalmers, finishing with 10 points, four assists, two rebounds and five turnovers in 28 minutes. Rose made only three of eight shots.
In other news, second-round pick DeVon Hardin didn’t play in today’s opener because of a stress reaction of the left lower leg, team officials said. It’s also worth noting that Hardin still has not signed a contract with Oklahoma City. First-round pick D.J. White did play and scored eight points with four rebounds and five fouls in 26 minutes.
And oh yeah, I hear Kevin Durant will be suiting up Tuesday.