TULSA — It took just 10 seconds for the moment Oklahoma City Thunder fans have been clamoring for.
Chris Paul ran off a Danilo Gallinari screen and passed to an — of course — open Steven Adams in the corner where he would dribble forward and pass to an open-
Wait, he shot a corner-three! He buried it! What?
“It’s always on the first try, mate,” Adams said afterwards with a chuckle. “I just got the go, and I shot it.”
Steven Adams on if him stretching the floor is better suited for the three point guard lineup. I asked a follow up if he now has the green light to shoot when open from deep. pic.twitter.com/CHfJPHg3ik
— Brady Trantham (@BradyDoesSports) October 9, 2019
It was the shining moment in the Thunder’s 119-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. For good reason.
Thunder fans and media have been asking the question of whether or not Steven Adams would ever attempt a three-point shot for a while. Media covering the team have seen and tweeted videos of Adams draining threes with consistency during post-practice sessions over the last few seasons. It’s a question that always comes up, but Adams has always been one to down-play his shooting abilities.
“I don’t know, mate,” Adams said at Thunder Media Day. “We’ve got keep focus on what the game plan is. If that’s the thing, then yeah. I’m not going to just come out and be like, maybe now is the time to jack up a couple threes. It’s got to be calculated.”
With what we’ve now seen from Adams in an in-game situation, the question now shifts to, will this wrinkle continue?
“For the situation earlier, yes,” Adams said. “It’s still preseason, mate, we’re still building and figuring things out.”
“We talked about it at shoot around today,” Billy Donovan said. “He had a few more opportunities to shoot but I think he wanted to start one-for-one and didn’t want to ruin his percentage.”
Adams finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
That opening possession came from a lineup that featured all three Thunder point guards — Paul, Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Donovan and the Thunder had hinted that this would be an option the team may employ moving forward during camp.
Each guard possesses their own unique skill set. Paul is the prototypical pick and roll floor general, Schröder has speed to burn while Gilgeous-Alexander’s length and athleticism can be utilized on the wing.
“There’s going to be some sacrifices,” Donovan said of the three guard lineup. “But it’s going to be the sacrifice for the greater good. They all have high basketball IQ’s. I think (with their abilities) the biggest thing is if they’re all playing against close-outs, that’s a good thing.”
With the versatility and ability to push the pace — something Oklahoma City can still do in the post-Russell Westbrook era — the Thunder can have fun on the floor with this lineup.
“Those guys being such willing passers,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Being able to penetrate and drive against the defense like that is fun to play with.”
“You get a chance to kick it ahead and we can all create for each other,” Paul said. “We just move it a little bit.”
The lineup led to a healthy amount of another thing the Thunder have been preaching all camp — ball movement.
In the first half, OKC shot over 60 percent from the floor and from deep. Assists were piling up amongst the ball-handling lineups.
“All three of those guys are smart and unselfish,” Donovan added. “They’ve got to be the catalyst to move the basketball. I thought we came out of the game to start playing well. They got good looks and generated good shots.
The Thunder played 15 guys during the game. One who didn’t play was Andre Roberson. Roberson was held out of Sunday’s Blue/White scrimmage for precautionary reasons.
Donovan said on Monday that OKC was planning on holding Roberson out for the game Tuesday night. Donovan didn’t want to consider Roberson as ‘day-to-day’ because he still practices with the team.
“It’s not like he’s shut down and can’t do anything, he did some stuff today,” Donovan said. “This is not, in my opinion a set back, it’s more of his process of him regaining his strength and building up that tolerance.”
Donovan couldn’t confirm if Roberson would play or sit for Thursday night’s game against the New Zealand Breakers.
And then on Roberson’s status for Thursday night against the New Zealand Breakers pic.twitter.com/ucL9Ix3I51
— Brady Trantham (@BradyDoesSports) October 8, 2019
“I don’t want to say that it’s ‘day-to-day,’” Donovan said. “We will have practice tomorrow and see where he’s at and we will make a decision for Thursday.”
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a featured co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12. For Sooner fans, you can also listen to the “Inside OU” podcast with John Hoover, Rufus Alexander and Brady. Brady is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma class of 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports