Chicago Bulls vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Grading OKC Thunder's Performance
That one actually felt like a regular-season game—minus Kevin Durant riding the pine with the game on the line.
The Thunder stayed in this one thanks to 22 points from both Kevin Durant and Jeremy Lamb, and some serious bench production from Steve Adams and Nick Collison who combined for 23 points.
Late turnovers by Perry Jones and Lamb cost the Thunder a chance at winning this one, and those turnovers served as a great reminder of just how youthful the Thunder are.
Adams impressed, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 30 minutes of action. In addition to that, he didn't commit a single turnover and he shot an impressive 4-of-6 from the field.
It's starting to look like the Thunder may have gotten the steal of the 2013 draft, and we saw glimpses of that in this one.
The preseason is officially over for the Thunder, and they certainly have lots to work on before their regular season tips off in Utah against the Jazz on Oct. 30.
They need to improve their offensive ball movement, their defensive rotations and their presence on the glass—the Bulls out-rebounded the Thunder, 46-32.
Chicago got the best of OKC in this one, but I have a feeling that this one won't hold as much value to the Thunder once the regular season rolls around.
Point Guard: Reggie Jackson
The highlight of Reggie Jackson's night was when Derrick Rose turned him around 180 degrees on a nasty crossover.
Yea, it was that kind of a night for Russell Westbrook's immediate replacement, until the second half came around.
He had as many points as he did turnovers in the first half with two points and two turnovers, and his defense on Rose was suspect at best.
Luckily for Jackson, he went nuts in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the third.
He caught fire in isolation and transformed into the playoff version of him we all saw at the end of last year.
Jackson ended the night with 14 points and six assists, but he shot just 41.6 percent from the field and he committed four costly turnovers.
While he's replacing Westbrook, Jackson will need to be more efficient if the Thunder are going to dominate the Western Conference. Much like other young players on the Thunder, the biggest question will be just how consistent he can be throughout the beginning of the year.
Overall Grade: C+
Shooting Guard: Jeremy Lamb
Lamb wasn't messing around on Wednesday night—in the first half at least.
It was the second-year player's final shot to impress Scott Brooks, and he certainly did that with an impressive 22-point performance.
Lamb was the Thunder's main offensive threat in the first half, scoring 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting while also accounting for three rebounds, two assists and two steals along the way.
The only issue was that Lamb didn't score again until late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Once he felt that sense of urgency he created offense for himself, which was reassuring to watch, but it was all too late.
Call me Mr. Negative, but even though Lamb had a solid game production-wise, most of his offense came on wide-open shots or easy looks at the rim that came off of making cuts to the basket.
There's no problem with that, but it is slightly concerning because the Thunder need him to create offense for himself and his teammates.
With that being said, Lamb showed Thunder fans a glimpse of the kind of player he can be once he reaches his full potential.
Lamb ended the evening with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting while adding three assists, three rebounds and two steals. Unfortunately, he committed a team-high five turnovers as well.
Consistency and production are the name of the game for Lamb. If he can't bring consistent production to the floor, the Thunder will look elsewhere for their bench production.
Overall Grade: B
Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Durant saw two Bulls defenders flying out at him nearly every time he touched the ball.
Chicago wasn't afraid to double-team Durant and force him to let the players around him win the game.
Watching Durant adjust his game to how the defense attacked him was encouraging to watch. He didn't simply jack up shots, he found open teammates and tried to get them involved in high-percentage offensive opportunities.
He ended the first half with 12 points, nine coming in the second quarter, and the scoring didn't stop there.
Durant finished the night with 22 points on 50 percent shooting, and he added five assists, four rebounds and two steals along the way.
He only played 32 minutes, but he made the most of his time on the hardwood and reminded us all why he's developed into more than a pure scorer in the league.
It will certainly be interesting to watch Durant continue to lead the Thunder without Westbrook. There's no doubt that he can do it, and Wednesday night's showdown reminded fans of that.
It's just a shame that the Thunder, without Westbrook, don't have a true second option.
Overall Grade: B+
Small/Power Forward: Perry Jones
Perry Jones got the scoring started for the Thunder by knocking down a three-pointer with 11:27 remaining in the first quarter. And then he continued on to basically nothing the rest of the game.
It's tough watching Jones underutilize the skill and raw talent that exists within his game, but it just doesn't seem like he's ready to be a constant contributor for OKC.
Durant got Jones open in the fourth quarter to get him an easy dunk, but aside from that, he didn't create any offense for himself, and he looked very hesitant on defense.
The worst part of the night for Jones was when he led a fast break down five with under a minute left and he simply threw the ball out of bounds.
It's a shame, because there's no doubt that Jones has the size and skill it takes to succeed in the NBA; he just needs confidence, and he doesn't have that right now.
Overall Grade: D-
Center: Kendrick Perkins
In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Kendrick Perkins was rather nonexistent against the Bulls.
His minutes were limited, mainly because he's still "recovering" from dislocating his finger earlier in the preseason.
In 18 minutes Perkins didn't do much, ending the night with three points and three rebounds.
Backup center and rookie Steven Adams had a much more productive and energetic game, which isn't great news for Perkins.
Adams easily outperformed Perkins on the glass, grabbing four more rebounds.
The highlights of Perkins nights were when he threw a transition alley-oop out of bounds, tried to be Chris Paul and throw a half-court alley-oop, only to follow it up with a behind-the-back pass in the paint—both of which failed miserably.
I'm not going to say that Perkins should be concerned about losing his starting gig, but he needs to be aware that Adams is hot on his tail when it comes to gaining minutes because Adams is a much more complete player.
Overall Grade: F
Sixth Man: Nick Collison
Collison came in for Jones after a slow start, and as he usually does, he impressed enough to stay on the court for a significant amount of time.
Collison ended the night with 12 points, and more importantly, he brought hustle and passion to the court that Jones lacked.
It's not uncommon to see Collison flying up and down the court, chasing down loose balls and cutting to the basket at the right times for easy baskets.
He did all of that against the Bulls, and it was a major reason why the Thunder stayed competitive throughout. In addition to his double-digit offensive production, Collison added three rebounds, an assist, a steal, a block and zero turnovers in 23 strong minutes.
I wouldn't be surprised if at some point this season Collison finds himself in the starting lineup over Perkins.
Overall Grade: B+
Without Collison and Adam's numbers, the Thunder's bench production was underwhelming.
Rodney McGruder—who reminds me of SNL's classic skit-turned-movie MacGruber—had a rough night with just two points on 1-of-4 shooting in 15 minutes of action.
Andre Roberson, the rookie out of Colorado, did absolutely nothing in his time on the court beside commit two fouls and turn the ball over.
The point is that the Thunder need production on the wing from their second unit, and they just didn't get it against the Bulls. One positive, however, is that the Thunder's bench only committed two turnovers all game.
They got all the production they could use from the big men, totaling 23 points, as compared to the backcourt bench players, who accounted for seven whopping points.
We all know that backcourt depth is going to be a major issue for the Thunder this season, and fans saw that firsthand in their final preseason game.
Overall Grade: C+