Five Questions back! As the Grizzlies roll into Oklahoma City riding a three game winning streak, we got Joshua Broom of Grizzly Bear Blues’ sister site, Welcome to Loud City, to stop by and talk Thunder with us ahead of tonight’s game. Peep his answers below.
1. Russell Westbrook has delivered pretty much exactly the sort of performance that we expected of him this season. Do you think he’ll be able to keep that up for the rest of the year?
Thus far, Russ' performance has been nothing short of phenomenal. Realistically, though, I feel fatigue and the rigors of an 82-game ledger will hinder Westbrook's bid to become just the second player in NBA history to average a season-long triple-double.
This view is certainly no indictment on Westbrook's behalf. It is just hard to imagine the fearless 6'3 guard bearing such a heavy burden -- and usage rate -- until April 12. However, Russ' nightly intensity will make for a compelling chase. And perchance, if Westbrook's 30/10/10 average does endure, I will not be a bit surprised.
2. Given their dependence on Russ, what do you see as this team’s ceiling in terms of playoff seeding and success in the playoffs?
Currently, Oklahoma City is in shambles without the services of Enes Kanter. While Westbrook doesn't require much help to put OKC in the Western Conference's fifth or sixth seed come playoff time, he will need a healthy Kanter to do so.
With Enes presumably sidelined through mid-to-late March, I'd look for Oklahoma City to finagle the Conference's seventh spot for the postseason. From said position, I feel a healthy OKC iteration can become a major thorn in the side of either San Antonio or Houston.
3. We’re a year and a half into Donovan’s coaching tenure. What are your thoughts on what he did last year and so far this season? Do you think he’s a coach you can trust to lead the Thunder long-term?
In last season's playoffs, Donovan outmaneuvered, and ultimately checkmated the sideline grandmaster in Gregg Popovich. Such an achievement holds lofty merit in this league.
Overall, I'd rate Donovan's OKC tenure as a sterling success. When combining his post-season laurels with the fact Oklahoma City is still above .500 with a hastily reconfigured roster, Donovan comes out looking like a winner.
4. Who’s been the biggest surprise this season on the court? Who’s been the biggest disappointment?
Though his numbers aren't spectacular, I'd name rookie Domantas Sabonis as Oklahoma City's surprise performer of the season. At just 20 years of age, Sabonis has proven his mettle against a bevy of top starting-level competition.
At WTLC, we are excited for Domantas' inclusion in the upcoming BBVA Rookie/Sophomore game slated for All-Star Weekend.
Conversely, I would list Anthony Morrow as the team's biggest disappointment. All OKC requires of Morrow is semi-consistent outside shooting. Thus far, Morrow's 28% three-point percentage has been a detriment and letdown.
5. What do you think the Thunder need to do well tonight to beat the Grizzlies?
Obviously, score the basketball. Although, against a staunch Memphis defense, and sans Kanter, this is far easier said than done. For OKC to prevail against the Grizzlies' "grit and grind," ball movement and knock-down outside shooting will be key.
Thanks again to Joshua Broom and Welcome to Loud City for taking part in our Five Questions series, and be sure to watch as the Grizzlies take on the Thunder tonight at 7 p.m.