West Coast Road Trip
The Thunder departed OKC and have started on a five-game road trip out west. The first game against the Nuggets was Tuesday night, with the Thunder falling 119-101. The next two games are against the Los Angeles Clippers, which will be a tough test with their star power and playmaking. After the Clippers games, the Thunder travel to Portland, to take on the Trailblazers. Portland has been dealing with some significant injuries, so the team will not be at full strength missing All-Star CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. To conclude the road trip, the Thunder will travel to Phoenix and take on the Suns and old friend Chris Paul.
Eyes on Development
With the schedule heating up in difficulty, these next few games will be a particularly good barometer for how the team is progressing in development. Having the young guys go up against some of the very best players in the league will only help in their development. To be the best, players have to go up against the best and learn to beat them. Nikola Jokic was dominant in the Nuggets win on Tuesday night. Next up are Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Damian Lilliard, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker. Time to see how Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, and the rest of the team respond.
Roby Makes the Most of Opportunity
While most of the attention has gone to SGA, Dort, and Bazley, Isaiah Roby deserves some props. With Al Horford away from the team, due to the birth of his child, Roby has slid into the starting center spot, and filled in admirably. He’s had to go against some truly elite big men, including Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, and Nikola Jokic. When he has been in the starting lineup, Roby has consistently scored in double figures, rebounded well, shown passing ability, and defended at a quality level. Roby has been a pleasant surprise this season, as he burst onto the scene. Having only played ten minutes for the Thunder last year, this season is in effect, his Rookie year.