OKC Thunder (1) vs Dallas Mavericks (5) - 2024 WC Second Round

Sam Ray Not

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Luka's playoff TS (through 10 games) is now a DeRozan-esque .508 — which has dragged his career playoff TS down to .561.

It's clear he's pretty banged up right now; and crap scoring efficiency notwithstanding, he's been a strong positive on the floor (unlike DeRozan). But he's over 25 now, with a few areas that still need work (shooting, FT shooting, defense, conditioning). I suspect a real commitment to better conditioning will help with both the D and the shooting, so maybe start there.

Hard to see DAL getting past OKC, let alone DEN/MIN and BOS, based on the way Luka looked last night, but who knows. Jamal Murray looked totally cooked a week ago and now looks like himself again. Paging that Mexican doctor Bill Simmons keeps alluding to...?
 

Jimbodandy

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Luka's playoff TS (through 10 games) is now a DeRozan-esque .508 — which has dragged his career playoff TS down to .561.

It's clear he's pretty banged up right now; and crap scoring efficiency notwithstanding, he's been a strong positive on the floor (unlike DeRozan). But he's over 25 now, with a few areas that still need work (shooting, FT shooting, defense, conditioning). I suspect a real commitment to better conditioning will help with both the D and the shooting, so maybe start there.

Hard to see DAL getting past OKC, let alone DEN/MIN and BOS, based on the way Luka looked last night, but who knows. Jamal Murray looked totally cooked a week ago and now looks like himself again. Paging that Mexican doctor Bill Simmons keeps alluding to...?
That's been part of my frustration with Luka since his second year. It's ok to be a doughy teenager entering the league with his skill and body control. But it's his sixth year. It's almost unfathomable that an elite NBA player can make it this far into a career without really transforming his body materially. He's certainly a better player than he was. He almost averaged a 34pt triple double for the season, and his efficiency and assist/turnover rates are excellent. I just don't understand why he doesn't lean out. Same with Zion.
 

ManicCompression

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That's been part of my frustration with Luka since his second year. It's ok to be a doughy teenager entering the league with his skill and body control. But it's his sixth year. It's almost unfathomable that an elite NBA player can make it this far into a career without really transforming his body materially. He's certainly a better player than he was. He almost averaged a 34pt triple double for the season, and his efficiency and assist/turnover rates are excellent. I just don't understand why he doesn't lean out. Same with Zion.
This is partly why I can't stand watching Luka (beyond the ref bitching). It's just totally unacceptable (and seemingly impossible) to be that bloated while playing 40 minutes of professional basketball every two nights and I'm just left feeling aggravated that he's wasting all of his amazing skills on being unserious about this crucial element of being an All-NBA caliber player. He looks like Cleveland-era Shawn Kemp out there. I have a better body than him, and I don't have a good body. I can't see him turning it around at this point because he continues to be successful and the Mavs seem to be full of Luka yes-men, but I do fear that he's going to learn his lesson too late, when he's nearing his 30s and his metabolism ain't what it used to be.

Him and Zion really make me appreciate Lebron's dedication. It's one thing to have incredible athletic skills, it's entirely another to work around the clock to maximize them.
 

slamminsammya

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I think Luka is at a point in his career where hoping he gets his body into shape is a fools bet. Ps did anyone see the clip of Paul George telling him to lay off the hookah? simply amazing
 

Kliq

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That's been part of my frustration with Luka since his second year. It's ok to be a doughy teenager entering the league with his skill and body control. But it's his sixth year. It's almost unfathomable that an elite NBA player can make it this far into a career without really transforming his body materially. He's certainly a better player than he was. He almost averaged a 34pt triple double for the season, and his efficiency and assist/turnover rates are excellent. I just don't understand why he doesn't lean out. Same with Zion.
Fair or unfair, if he's limping around out there I do wonder if he would be injured if he was actually in shape.
 

JCizzle

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Things we may never know - how good a conditioned Luka would look and how fucking amazing Jokic would be if he decided he liked basketball. :redwine:
 

lovegtm

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That's been part of my frustration with Luka since his second year. It's ok to be a doughy teenager entering the league with his skill and body control. But it's his sixth year. It's almost unfathomable that an elite NBA player can make it this far into a career without really transforming his body materially. He's certainly a better player than he was. He almost averaged a 34pt triple double for the season, and his efficiency and assist/turnover rates are excellent. I just don't understand why he doesn't lean out. Same with Zion.
And we saw Jokic fix exactly this. He went from a doughboy to elite cardio conditioning, and it drastically improved his playoff game.
 

ManicCompression

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And we saw Jokic fix exactly this. He went from a doughboy to elite cardio conditioning, and it drastically improved his playoff game.
The difference is the demands at C vs. wing/PG. Jokic had a much lower bar to reach vs. what Luka has in front of him. I mean, Luka makes James Harden look like Anthony Edwards.
 

lovegtm

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The difference is the demands at C vs. wing/PG. Jokic had a much lower bar to reach vs. what Luka has in front of him. I mean, Luka makes James Harden look like Anthony Edwards.
Yes, but we're talking about improvement relative to oneself. Luka would gain effectiveness with every bit of marginal conditioning he added, and that has nothing to do with Anthony Edwards' level of fitness.
 

Jimbodandy

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Yes, but we're talking about improvement relative to oneself. Luka would gain effectiveness with every bit of marginal conditioning he added, and that has nothing to do with Anthony Edwards' level of fitness.
Exactly. We have guys on our team who look like completely different people physically than they did two years ago, let alone six. Most guys add some muscle, drop some fat. Nobody is saying that you can't function in the NBA unless you look like a bodybuilder. But a desire to get an edge seems to be something that most of the elite guys have in common.
 

lovegtm

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Exactly. We have guys on our team who look like completely different people physically than they did two years ago, let alone six. Most guys add some muscle, drop some fat. Nobody is saying that you can't function in the NBA unless you look like a bodybuilder. But a desire to get an edge seems to be something that most of the elite guys have in common.
It's fair to say that Luka does not have conditioning at the same priority level that most of the other top 5/10 guys do.
 

OnWisc

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How long until they start calling him Luka Donut? If they don’t already. I’m not really up on these things
 

dhellers

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That's been part of my frustration with Luka since his second year. It's ok to be a doughy teenager entering the league with his skill and body control. But it's his sixth year. It's almost unfathomable that an elite NBA player can make it this far into a career without really transforming his body materially. He's certainly a better player than he was. He almost averaged a 34pt triple double for the season, and his efficiency and assist/turnover rates are excellent. I just don't understand why he doesn't lean out. Same with Zion.
From the little I saw of Zion in round 1, he seemed to be much more fit. Perhaps he needs to catch up for lost time (to improve his joint strength/stability, etc)?
 

Euclis20

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It feels a lot like game 4 (SGA played great, everyone else on the Thunder looking like they're ready for nap time), but Luka showed up to this one.

*edit - and OKC still hanging around. If this gets close in the final minutes, who knows.
 

osori

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Man you have to at least hit the rim with a wide open corner 3 when you are trailing, 2 minutes left in the game.
 

Euclis20

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They need that, but damn their offense after SGA is mediocre.
Their 2nd and 3rd best offensive players are 22 and 21, and have a total of 3 years experience. Improvement is close to a given with this group, and they were 3rd in offensive rating this year. I don't see pure scoring as their biggest need heading into the offseason, and spending a lot of capital on a 6'3 guard isn't ideal, IMO.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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They need that, but damn their offense after SGA is mediocre.
Jalen Williams is hurt and is also young. The rest of the rotation is mostly younger too. They need length and scoring. I would bet they go after a PG13 type if that sort somehow becomes available.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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So take a 3 year timeline?

Can OKC keep its core together that long, or will prior history repeat (the breakup of the durant/westbrook/etc core).
The NBA feels like two to three year cycles for almost all rosters it seems. I think the big thing for OKC is how well Minnesota and San Antonio build around their stars.

It feels like OKC, Minn and SA are going to be doing battle over the next few years. I would expect whatever aging stars seeking a shot at a ring (or another one) are going wind up in these places. OKC has the best war chest obviously.
 

chilidawg

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They need that, but damn their offense after SGA is mediocre.
Missed a ton of open looks last night. There's enough offensive talent there I think considering how young they are. What they're consistently bad at is rebounding, just such a skinny team outside of Dort and Jalen W. Need some beef there. Holmgren getting swallowed up inside, 4 rebounds and 1 block from your only big isn't going to cut it.
 

Kliq

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Missed a ton of open looks last night. There's enough offensive talent there I think considering how young they are. What they're consistently bad at is rebounding, just such a skinny team outside of Dort and Jalen W. Need some beef there. Holmgren getting swallowed up inside, 4 rebounds and 1 block from your only big isn't going to cut it.
Feels important to point out here OKC helped facilitate the trade of Gafford to Dallas, when they could have easily given up one of their kajillion first round picks to get Gafford themselves.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Feels important to point out here OKC helped facilitate the trade of Gafford to Dallas, when they could have easily given up one of their kajillion first round picks to get Gafford themselves.
I don’t recall the details but if OKC could have a) acquired Gafford while b) keeping him off another WC playoff team……then they really botched this up. Gafford is exactly the type of guy they need too…..an energetic big who is old enough to give help to Holmgren while still being young enough to fit in with the young team. What a blunder by the thunder!
 

brendan f

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I don’t recall the details but if OKC could have a) acquired Gafford while b) keeping him off another WC playoff team……then they really botched this up. Gafford is exactly the type of guy they need too…..an energetic big who is old enough to give help to Holmgren while still being young enough to fit in with the young team. What a blunder by the thunder!
What a blunder by the Thunder
Now things have gone asunder
What would Gafford have given them?
We can only wonder
 

Kliq

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Dallas landing Derrick Jones Jr. on a vet minimum contract has been one of the shrewdest signings of the year. He never has shot threes all that well, but getting a good defensive wing that can play 30+ minutes in a playoff game is a steal.
 

chilidawg

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Dallas landing Derrick Jones Jr. on a vet minimum contract has been one of the shrewdest signings of the year. He never has shot threes all that well, but getting a good defensive wing that can play 30+ minutes in a playoff game is a steal.
And he's shooting 3's well. Lots of good moves by Dallas this year. Grant didn't work out but they cut ties quickly and picked up PJ and Gafford and drafted Lively. That team can defend now which makes playing KI/Doncic that much scarier.
 

Kliq

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And he's shooting 3's well. Lots of good moves by Dallas this year. Grant didn't work out but they cut ties quickly and picked up PJ and Gafford and drafted Lively. That team can defend now which makes playing KI/Doncic that much scarier.
Yeah they've basically surrounded the two scorers with guys that can defend and run the floor. I can't recall seeing as many lobs by a team as it seems are thrown to Lively/Gafford/DJJ each game. PJ has really outperformed his expected value, he's been fantastic throughout the series on both ends.

OKC reminds me a bit of Memphis in the past--they have depth during the regular season but all of a sudden it looks like they are lacking guys who are really ready to seize the moment in a playoff series. I really like Jalen Williams, but I saw his name floated around as a potential third-team All-NBA guy and he has just been brutal this series.

Really, OKC should be in control of this series. Luka only has had one really great game (last night) and has been hobbled by injury, and Kyrie is averaging 14 ppg through the five games. This feels like a squandered opportunity by them, and I really think not getting a veteran besides Gordan Hayward at the deadline was a big mistake.
 

cheech13

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I don’t recall the details but if OKC could have a) acquired Gafford while b) keeping him off another WC playoff team……then they really botched this up. Gafford is exactly the type of guy they need too…..an energetic big who is old enough to give help to Holmgren while still being young enough to fit in with the young team. What a blunder by the thunder!
Zach Lowe opined on his podcast that the Thunder had no interest in Gafford or any other big because they only want play five out.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Zach Lowe opined on his podcast that the Thunder had no interest in Gafford or any other big because they only want play five out.
If Dallas could have closed out their last home game OKC would have been out in five.
 

cheech13

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If Dallas could have closed out their last home game OKC would have been out in five.
Bravo.

This is still my biggest hang up about Presti as a GM. He’s really good at drafting and acquiring assets but his team building has always left something to be desired.
 

lovegtm

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Bravo.

This is still my biggest hang up about Presti as a GM. He’s really good at drafting and acquiring assets but his team building has always left something to be desired.
Yeah, go sell Jrue Holiday on the vision, get a commitment to re-sign, and go get him. Go get OG Anunoby. Go get Gafford. You've got the assets.

If we've learned anything in the NBA, it's that you never have as much time as you think. If you have 2% title odds and you can make that 10-20% without completely mortgaging the franchise, you do it.

The thing that kills me is that Presti nailed this once before, when he went and got Paul George, and even had him re-sign.

Ooooh you're a young, promising team with an MVP candidate and assets? Congratulations, here's a cookie. Enjoy your 2nd round exit, and give my best regards to the Sixers, who mastered this schtick long before you.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Yeah, go sell Jrue Holiday on the vision, get a commitment to re-sign, and go get him. Go get OG Anunoby. Go get Gafford. You've got the assets.

If we've learned anything in the NBA, it's that you never have as much time as you think. If you have 2% title odds and you can make that 10-20% without completely mortgaging the franchise, you do it.

The thing that kills me is that Presti nailed this once before, when he went and got Paul George, and even had him re-sign.

Ooooh you're a young, promising team with an MVP candidate and assets? Congratulations, here's a cookie. Enjoy your 2nd round exit, and give my best regards to the Sixers, who mastered this schtick long before you.
Sam deserves some heat for not monetizing (winitizing?) that first core but let's see how he does this time around.

Wemby or Ant plus other stars is daunting but this OKC team can get a lot more firepower/even more daunting without gutting their rotation. I expect high end OKC real estate to be bid their the next few years as all the ring chasers scatter to the new power centers. OKC feels like one such spot. Guessing Presti doesn't have to sell the vision as hard this time around.

But yeah, they need to add resources this off-season or else they risk missing their shot.
 

the moops

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Ooooh you're a young, promising team with an MVP candidate and assets? Congratulations, here's a cookie. Enjoy your 2nd round exit, and give my best regards to the Sixers, who mastered this schtick long before you.
There are probably 28 owners that would trade their entire roster, GM, and coach for what OKC has put together
 

lovegtm

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There are probably 28 owners that would trade their entire roster, GM, and coach for what OKC has put together
Yes, because they would tell themselves that they could then exploit it to be in better title contention.

I'm criticizing OKC because they're in a good position, not because they're in a bad one.

I feel the same way about Danny, even though I defended him at the time.
 

Royal Reader

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28? Hmmm…that leaves one team.

Ed- wait I just thanks Bened myself didn’t I.
I'd say it's 25. I don't do it if I'm Boston or Denver.

I might not if I'm SA or Minn. There's at least a world where Ant and Wemby are perennial MVP level players and SGA is 'merely' a Clyde Drexler. Obviously the Gobert trade vs OKC's warchest is a factor, but getting the absolute alpha guy is usually the hardest part.