UPDATE: Chris Sheridan’s top 12 trade assets (OKC’s got a couple):”The Thunder are constantly being asked if they’d be open to trading the rights to the athletic Ibaka, currently playing for Ricoh Manresa of the Spanish League, as is the case with the Nuggets and Hervelle, who plays for Real Madrid.”
And here are your West All-Star reserves – Chauncey Billups (G), Tony Parker (G), Brandon Roy (G), Dirk Nowitzki (F), Pau Gasol (F), David West (F) and Shaquille O’Neal. Notice anything there? There’s no small forward on the entire roster… and guess what position Kevin Durant plays. Not sayin’, just sayin’.
TrueHoop looks at the snubbed. Women may love the snub, but I don’t think NBA players do: “One of the worst ways you can analyze a player is to cherry pick a handul of statistics that don’t even mean all that much without a broader context. But it’s fun, so I’m going to do it anyway. 35 points, ten rebounds, and six assists. 46 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists. 28 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals. 41 points and ten rebounds. You see what I mean? These kinds of stat lines are not hard to find in Kevin Durant’s body of work. Granted, his team came out of the gate terribly. But if they had played the entire season like they have played the last month, there is no way that Kevin Durant would not be on this team. I don’t know precisely what the qualifications are to be an All-Star, but I know that just about everyone who puts up those kinds of numbers consistently for any length of time seems to make it.”
Rob Peterson of NBA.com says the coaches got it mostly right: “Team success — or the lack of it — also may be the reason Durant, who is averaging 24.8 points per game (sixth in the NBA), wasn’t named to the team. The Thunder are 11-35. Usually, a team’s record plays a large part in whether a player is considered All-Star worthy. But in the East, Toronto’s Chris Bosh and Indiana’s Danny Granger play for sub-.500 teams. And they both made the team.”
Kevin Durant was just happy to be in the conversation: “It might be the last time Durant isn’t an All-Star. “Just to be in the conversation for a young guy like me feels good,” Durant said. “It just pushes me to work harder and help this team get better. I’m excited to be playing in the rookie-sophomore game and be part of All-Star weekend.” Durant is only 20. Compared to other NBA All-Stars before they reached their 21st birthday, Durant’s career is off to a much better start than most, the reason many believe he will be one of the league’s premier scorers for years to come.”
FreeDarko is seeing a shift in personality in the NBA, and KD is leading the charge. And just some more raving about The Delicious One in general: “There is perhaps no greater evidence of this unexpected shift than the rise of Kevin Durant. Durant’s mild-mannered off the court, but on it has a phantasmic bloodlust that’s equal parts sneaky, vicious, and just plain mysterious. He’s also the best small forward the West and yes, I agree with Simmons that he’s the league’s most underrated player. Watch him over a couple days. Not only does he look every bit the force he was at UT; gone are those quarters of nebulousness or frustrated jump-shooting. Durant goes to the rim stronger, faster and more insistent than we’d thought possible, while retaining all the sleek, slippery qualities that define his movements on the court. He rebounds, sometimes with a force bordering on outrage, and sets up teammates with tough passes. And on defense, there’s determination if not always results, and feats that use his length to its fullest. What’s more, Durant’s gaining power (figurative, dudes, so maybe it should be “powers”) every day, such that the improvement over a couple weeks is noticeable.”
Someone happens to disagree with Bill Simmons about Kevin Durant. And yes, I read the whole thing and I don’t really get what he’s saying either: “Bill Simmons just overstated the importance, placement, and ceiling of Kevin Durant for the umpteenth time. It’s a very annoying and pointless obsession that eventually conjures up feelings in the audience of just wanting to get this whole charade over much like Tommy Lee’s one-track mind in Best of the Best. The Sports Guy just wrote an article for ESPN the Magazine basically stating that it’s stupid to call someone overrated/underrated because that in and of itself is an overrated thing to do. However, Kevin Durant is ACTUALLY underrated because he’s probably the second greatest player of all time and will one day challenge Michael Jordan for folklore supremacy.” (NOTE: To summarize, I believe he’s saying he thinks KD will be an awesome player – which he already is – but isn’t going to be as awesome as Bill Simmons thinks he will be. I’m glad we spent 1,500 words establishing that.)
Clips Nation isn’t really on board with David Thorpe’s Rookie Rankings: David Thorpe’s disregard for Eric Gordon is beginning to border on the bizarre. Thorpe provides updates to his Rookie Watch feature on ESPN.com weekly on Wednesdays. So you might think that this week, a week that included Eric Gordon’s 41 point performance (a Clipper rookie record, as well as the high game for any rookie this season), would create some significant movement. The fact that Gordon’s game came against a Thorpe favorite, Russell Westbrook, would also seem relevant, especially considering that Gordon thoroughly outplayed Westbrook, the Thunder rookie finishing with fewer points than shots (11 versus 13) and fewer assists than turnovers (2 versus 3). So there was bound to be movement in this week’s list, right? Indeed there was. Westbrook moved up to the number 1 spot on Thorpe’s Top 50.
Dime’s new Power Rankings (OKC No. 25): “Kevin Durant’s late All-Star push wasn’t enough to sway the voters, but check out his numbers: In his last five games, KD was good for 31.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.”
And unrelated to Thunder basketball, but I really enjoyed this piece by Jeff MacGregor: “Being a columnist online or in print is all about having an opinion and getting noticed. So write your profile as in No. 2 above — but instead of 700 words in the middle backed up by statistics on how much the player has helped his team, you need to insist that the player is a blight on the league and must never be allowed to play again. Back this up with your “gut feeling.” Or insist that he is the greatest player at that position who ever lived. Back this up with your “own two eyes.” Doesn’t matter which. Better still, wait to see what everyone else is writing, then write the opposite. You’re a flamethrower! And don’t forget to mock the Super Bowl host city!”