• Losing a player like Kevin Durant is obviously one of the hardest things that a franchise could try to deal with.  Replacing a key component of your lineup is always difficult, but replacing the production of a player like Kevin Durant is nearly impossible.  He’s a top five player in the NBA, and those guys are almost never available.

    While it may be a difficult adjustment period, Victor Oladipo should help soften that blow, and considering the circumstances, he was likely the best option available.  It’s always hard to know who’s available for trade and what it would take to get them, but I would say that Sam Presti got incredible value for Serge Ibaka, and also found the perfect player to address their hole at shooting guard.

    Serge Ibaka had become a player that seemed to be less valuable than his reputation would suggest.  There was time not too long ago that Ibaka was a dominant force on the defensive end, and being only 26 years old, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to assume that his best years are still ahead of him.

    Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.  according to Basketball Reference, he averaged career lows in total rebound percentage, block percentage, and free throw rate, which have all been trending down over the last few years.  They all point to the same issue, which is his decline in physicality, and his affinity for playing out on the perimeter.  With his recent decline, the Thunder were wise to capitalize on the value of his reputation and grab a player that is young, controllable, and most importantly, heading in the right direction.

    Victor Oladipo has been improving ever since he entered the league.  He came out known for his great defense, and has since proved his value on offense as well.  While he is slightly undersized for the shooting guard position, his massive 6’9″ wingspan helps him make up for it.

    Oldadipo had his best offensive season last year, posting his highest percentages from the field and 3-point line of his career.  His turnover numbers were also far lower than his career average, and as a result, he posted an Offensive Box Plus Minus of one, which is far higher than his career average of -0.1.  The overall production has already taken giant steps forward, and with this being his fourth season as a 23 year old, it would not be surprising at all to see him take a few more large steps int the right direction in the coming years.

    So the Thunder got a younger, more controllable asset that is also a better player for them right now.  The fit is also fantastic, as shooting guard was by far the weakest position for the Thunder last season.  With Steven Adams and Enes Kanter on the roster, Ibaka was expendable.  Throwing in the fact that they also received the 12th overall pick and Ersan Illyasova, this deal seems to be about as good as they come.

    But the fit for the Thunder is even better than this makes it seem.  Victor Oldadipo would have provided the team with a perfect third option, which Ibaka never fully became.  He can handle the offense which would have given Durant and Westbrook more of an opportunity to play off the ball, and would have given the team a great option as a lead guard when Westbrook was on the bench.  According to Basketball  Reference, Oladipo has spent 31% of his career playing point guard for the Magic, and that’s with Elfrid Payton on the roster the last two seasons.  He also averaged 5.9 assists per 100 possessions last season, which just further proves his ability to take over that role.

    Oladipo would’ve also been a far better floor spacing option than Andre Roberson had been.  Roberson Averaged a career-high 31.1% from the 3-point line last season, which is not nearly as good as Oladipo’s 34.8%, especially considering the fact that Oladipo did that on around 2.6 more attempts per 100-possessions.  Given that Westbrook has never been a great shooter from 3-point range, and spends a lot of his time driving into the paint, any improvement in that area helps.

    This would’ve made the Thunder much better this season, and they were already one win away from making it to the finals, so from that perspective the move is not hard to justify.  But even now, despite the fact that Durant has left, this move makes a ton of sense for the team.

    Russell Westbrook has spent his entire career playing next to Durant, which means he’s used to having a teammate that can take over on offense.  Oladipo isn’t nearly as good of a scorer as Durant is, but he’s still a player that facilitate or score when you need him to.

    He’s also in an ideal age range where he’s just young enough to start a rebuild around if Westbrook leaves, but also experienced enough to fit into their plans if he decides to stay.  Many have talked about the fact that winning is going to be a driving factor in Westbrook’s free agency decision, and adding someone that can help keep the team competitive next season shows him that the franchise is capable of building a winning team even without Durant.

    Oladipo is a great fit for this organization and is a major upgrade over Serge Ibaka.  The deal represents a perfect fit for the organization.  Had they went out and pursued an older player in exchange for Ibaka, then the deal would have come back to bite them when Durant left, and had they gotten future draft picks or a young player that isn’t ready to contribute, then they would’ve made the team less competitive next season, which would likely hurt their chances to keep Westbrook.  Oladipo was a fantastic player to add this offseason, and should give Oklahoma City fans hope that the organization can weather the storm of losing a player like Durant.

Fantasy News

  • Jon Horst - Team - Milwaukee Bucks

    Jon Horst has been awarded the Executive of the Year award.

    Horst added Coach Budenholzer and retooled the roster to perfectly fit Giannis Antetokoumpo and his style of play. This led to the best record in the NBA and to a team that many believed to be the favorites to come out of the east. Obviously this was a regular season award, because Masai Ujiri came in fourth place and if voting were done today it would look a lot different.

    Source: https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1143346008673398785" target="_blank">NBA on Twitter

  • Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert has won the 2018-2018 Defensive Player of the Year Award.

    Gobert helped anchor one of the best defenses in the league and this makes it the second consecutive year he's taken home the award. The Jazz are always steady due to his efforts on that end of the floor and the team's identity starts with him.

    Source: NBA on Twitter

  • Mike Budenholzer - Team - Milwaukee Bucks

    Mike Budenholzer has been named the Coach of the Year for the 2018-2019 season.

    In his first season as the Bucks’ coach, Budenholzer helped propel the team to an NBA-best 60 wins. The Bucks revamped their offense and did their best to play through Giannis Antetokounmpo’s strengths and the drastic shift in performance compared to years past makes this a well deserved award.

    Source: NBA on Twitter

  • Lou Williams - SG - Los Angeles Clippers

    Lou Williams collected his third Kia NBA Sixth Man Award on Monday night, winning it over Domantas Sabonis and Montrezl Harrell.

    Williams wasn't needed quite as much this season due to the heath of his teammates. That caused his minutes to drop from 32.8 to 26.6 per game, but he still scored 20.0 points per game and even increased his rebounds and assists to career-highs.

    Source: NBA on TNT on Twitter

  • Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies

    Mike Conley won two awards Monday night that were voted on by the players, the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award and the Sportsmanship Award.

    It's nice to see Conley getting some attention this summer. This is his third Sportsmanship Award, and he'll be taking that and his Teammate of the Year Award to probably the best team he's ever been a part of in Utah. Now let's see if he can get his first All Star nod, too.

    Source: NBA on TNT on Twitter

  • Pascal Siakam - PF - Toronto Raptors

    Pascal Siakam took home the Kia Most Improved Player Award, beating De'Aaron Fox and D'Angelo Russell.

    This award was seemingly wrapped up back in November. Siakam exploded this season, improving significantly is every fantasy category (excluding turnovers). He finished the regular season with per-game averages of 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 threes on 54.9 percent from the field and 78.5 percent from the line. His three-point percentage has increased from 14.3 to 22.0 to 36.9 as well. Whether or not Kawhi Leonard returns, Siakam should easily make his way into the top-40 ranks next season.

    Source: NBA on TNT on Twitter

  • Luka Doncic - PG - Dallas Mavericks

    Luka Doncic won the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, beating finalists Trae Young and Deandre Ayton.

    Ayton had the best fantasy season and Young had an amazing second half. However, Luka was a team leader, primary ball-handler and clutch shot-maker all season. His per-game averages of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.3 threes exceed most expectations. If he can bump up his percentages, he could be an early-round fantasy star for over a decade.

    Source: NBA on TNT

  • Patrick Beverley - PG - Los Angeles Clippers

    According to Brad Townsend, Patrick Beverley plans to meet with the Mavs, though a meeting has not been scheduled.

    He's also planning to meet with other teams, as we've heard before. Beverley appears to be in-demand this summer and he should produce similar stats to what he's put up over the last few seasons regardless of his landing spot. Whether he's with a bad team like the Bulls, a middling team like the Mavs or a potential contender like the Lakers, one would think he'll be signing in a spot where he'll be starting.

    Source: Brad Townsend on Twitter

  • Markelle Fultz - PG - Orlando Magic

    Markelle Fultz (shoulder) will not play at Summer League, according to GM John Hammond.

    Fultz has reportedly been making good progress and the Magic are excited about what he's been able to do since coming over at the trade deadline, but this is not great news. Hopefully Fultz will be ready to contribute in the preseason so we can get a look at how he'll fit in Orlando. The upside is immense but it would take a strong showing to confidently draft Fultz in redraft formats as his shoulder issues have completely derailed the first few years of his career.

    Source: 96.9 The Game on Twitter

  • Haywood Highsmith - PF - Philadelphia Sixers

    The Sixers have waived Haywood Highsmith.

    Highsmith joined the Sixers on a two-way deal last season but only appeared in five games. Expect them to use that spot on a more established G-League player or a rookie with some upside.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter