OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul George knows exactly who he’d pick if he became an NBA All-Star Game captain.
“Russ and then Melo,” he answered with a smile.
The All-Star Game will change formats this year, eliminating the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference model and installing a new one that names two captains and puts them in charge of drafting a team of pre-voted-on All-Stars. It's as if they’re playing pickup.
George is likely not the only player who would want to appease his teammates before anyone else’s. Still, the most entertaining part of All-Star Weekend could end up being the actual draft.
“It’s the league trying to find a way to make the All-Star Game a little better,” George said. “Obviously, the majority of the stars are out West, the big names, but I think that’s what they’ll try to get to. I think they’re trying to add a little bit more to it, but I think people will have just as much fun or it’ll be just as much of a show seeing who picks who and where guys team up with. I think that’ll be probably bigger than the game.”
• Respect for Roberson: New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry believes Thunder wing Andre Roberson is “probably the best glue guy in the league.”
Roberson is coming off a season in which he earned Second-Team All-Defensive honors. He’ll move from small forward to shooting guard this year with the addition of Paul George.
“Every team needs a guy like [Roberson]…You have to have a guy that’s pretty much a glue guy every night,” Gentry said. “He’s going to guard the best perimeter player. He’s going to disrupt offenses. He’s a good rebounder. And occasionally, he’ll make a 3-point shot. Those are the kinds of guys — they’re coaches' guys, I guess, more so than anything. Coaches love those kinds of players.”
• The last spot: Semaj Christon, who was Westbrook’s primary backup for much of last season, did not play in the Thunder’s preseason opener Tuesday. The two-way contracted Daniel Hamilton and the non-guaranteed Isaiah Canaan both saw minutes at point guard, instead.
Coach Billy Donovan said before Friday’s game that was merely to get a look.
“I know Semaj…I thought giving maybe Daniel and Isaiah an opportunity, because both of those guys were new, throwing them out there early would be important just to help those guys and let them have a better feel of what we’re trying to do,” Donovan said.
Christon was the second point guard off the bench after usual backup Raymond Felton during Friday's game against the Pelicans, entering midway through the second quarter. The Thunder have only one roster spot open and currently have two guaranteed pointguards, Westbrook and Felton. Christon’s contract is non-guaranteed until Oct. 15.
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as a host of the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.