Men: Don’t forget the Slam Dunk Competition Valentine’s Day is just, uh, let’s see… five days away. And no, don’t email me asking for ideas. Because I don’t have any either.
UPDATE: Marc Stein’s Power Rankings are out and OKC is this week’s biggest mover, all the way up to No. 21: “Leave it to us to spoil the moment and fixate on the downside of OKC’s 9-9 record — with six of those losses by four points or less — in 2009: Winning the rights to Blake Griffin in the lottery gets tougher with every W.”
The Root on Kevin Durant: “Pardon the cliché; but change has come to Durant’s game. It arrived around the time that final appointees for cabinet positions were announced. In December, Durant mounted an impressive stat line: 25.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 6.5 free throw attempts per game while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from behind the arc. Then in January, he showed it was no fluke, notching 27.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 8.7 free throw attempts per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor and 39.6 percent from deep.”
BDL Behind the Box Score: “LeBron might be the league’s greatest offensive force, Dwyane Wade may have led the league in scoring for most of the year, and Kobe Bryant’s always a bad room service experience away from dropping 57 on you, but I’d be awfully surprised if Kevin Durant didn’t lead the league in scoring in 2010-11. I wouldn’t even mind putting money on him to lead the NBA in points per game next season. No weirdness or exaggeration. Just watch. At this rate, the kid is going to be right there. 39 jaw-dropping points for Durant on Sunday (OK, the four free throws he hit didn’t make my face go all funny, but the other 35 were crazy-hep), and it’s safe to note that this guy absolutely has it. I don’t care that it came against Sacramento, the league’s worst defense. Not interested. Durant is just as pure as they come. The next 17 years are going to be fun as hell.”
Sactown Royalty’s reaction: “When you don’t overcommit, you stand the risk of not really committing. This wasn’t so much a problem against OKC because no team in the league takes fewer threes than the Thunder. But it’s been a problem all year, and the lack of catch-up speed/effort also affects interior rotations. Spencer Hawes commits on rotations, but that usually results in an And-1. Jason Thompson commits on rotations, but that usually results in two free throws. There’s never a back-up plan. If a guard overcommits on a shooter to deny the open three, the player can step in and get an open jumper … because no one is backing up the initial defender.”
Sacramento’s beat writer left the Ford Center with bells in her ears: “My head is still ringing. Oklahoma City fans are loud, even if Spencer Hawes doesn’t want to admit it. As I wrote about in Monday’s Bee, Hawes was quite outspoken about his disdain for the Seattle SuperSonics relocating to Oklahoma City. He called it a “travesty.”
This Mock Draft has OKC taking someone other than Blake: “The Thunder, who have Jeff Green currently at the 4 spot, would surely not pass up on drafting another Hoya if Monroe drops this far. With Russell Westbrook at the point and Kevin Durant playing the 3, the center spot is the obvious position the Thunder would look to draft. With the basis that Thabeet is off the board now, OKC takes the best available player.”
A good story about Brian Davis and his move to Oklahoma: “The capital city of the nation’s 46th state is Davis’ seventh home. But the Sunday morning walks, as well as the outpouring of kind words and thoughtful acts, have convinced the 52-year-old he’d like to keep an Oklahoma address. “It’s always very, very peaceful, but always very, very striking to me,” he said of the memorial. “Every time I walk through there, I’m reminded of the phrase, ‘Tomorrow is not promised.’ So be as good as you can today. Despite all your good intentions, you may not get a chance to live them out tomorrow.”
With Malice’s Power Rankings – if teams were movie stars: “Oklahoma City: Elisha Cuthbert. Young, hot star that is oh so fine… that can appear shallow upon closer inspection.”
Desmond Mason wants to finish in Oklahoma City: “Desmond Mason long has been a fan favorite among Oklahoma basketball fans. Apparently that affection goes both ways. The Oklahoma City guard will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but Mason, a nine-year NBA veteran, says he’d like to finish his career with the Thunder. “I’ve talked to a few people about that,” Mason said. “This is a special place for me. I’ve enjoyed my time here. I’ve enjoyed the things I’ve had going on in my life here and the opportunities I’ve had here. “Obviously this summer I’ll be an unrestricted free agent, but if I had the opportunity to finish my career here, it would just be icing on the cake. I have a lot of people here who support me and that I care about, so it would be a great opportunity for me.”
SI’s top five draft picks: “The 6-10, 250-pound Griffin is the consensus No. 1 pick and a potential All-Star. “He’s not a polished offensive player, but he’s bigger and stronger than everyone he plays against right now,” a GM said. “And that’s another thing in college basketball: It’s so small. There are 6-7 centers everywhere and 6-5 power forwards all over the place, and there’s just very little size and length. And so that’s why some of the big guys aren’t quite as good, because they’ll have such an adjustment to make in the NBA. But Blake Griffin is strong and quick and athletic, and he plays with intensity. He can’t possibly fail.” Geez. Thanks a lot Mr. Scout.
Trade outlook for each team: “Outlook: The 11-win Thunder have some of the league’s most desirable assets. Because interim coach Scott Brooks has done a good job settling players into their roles, a major shakeup is doubtful. But don’t expect GM Sam Presti to pass up a cost-cutting, draft-pick-returning deal for Watson or one of his big men.”
Spencer Hawes fashion statement backfired: “Melody Gutierrez of the Sacramento Bee reports that Hawes also wore a Sonics jersey on the team flight. Unfortunately, the only he had in a size that fit was a Nick Collison jersey. (They sell Nick Collison jerseys?) In perhaps a twist of Oklahoman fate, a key rebound late in the game bounced away from Hawes … into the hands of Collison. OKC went on to win, though Hawes played well.”
ESPN talking Amare trades, with a no-chance OKC deal that includes Jeff Green: “The Thunder would struggle to re-sign Stoudemire in 2010, especially if they weren’t a contender by then. If a big-market team such as the Knicks or Heat came courting, OKC could lose him for nothing, setting back the franchise. The Suns like Green, but is he enough? He’s been frustratingly inconsistent and just doesn’t look like the type of player you can build around.”