Not much Thunder news out there today with that tournament that some people are interested in going on…
Ian Thompson looks at five annual critcisms of the NBA compared to college basketball: NBA players don’t care: It’s true that many of them are selfish at the expense of the team. But you’ll find this to be true in the NCAA as well. In another sense, NBA players have never cared more about their careers. Because there is so much money at stake, they train year-round and practice more often than players of previous generations. I can tell you that it drives college coaches crazy when their players leave the program to undertake a 24/7 workout and diet regimen in preparation for the NBA draft. Kevin Love transformed his body after last year’s NCAA tournament to improve his stock for NBA talent evaluators. Don’t you think UCLA coach Ben Howland would have appreciated that commitment on behalf of the college program?
John Hollinger looks at five lottery teams that could make a run to the playoffs next year: “Despite having their doctor nix the Tyson Chandler trade, the Thunder made a less-discussed coup at the trade deadline with shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha. He gives the team the solid wing defender it’s been missing for most of the past two years and allows Jeff Green and Kevin Durant to play forward full time. Throw in Russell Westbrook’s surprisingly fast development and Nenad Krstic’s arrival and the talent base is growing rapidly. Also, the Thunder are poised to add even more talent this summer. In addition to another high draft pick of their own and another from Denver (technically the better of Denver’s or San Antonio’s, which almost certainly will be the Nuggets’), the Thunder have beaucoup cap space to either spend in a buyer’s market or use in a trade. And then there’s this little fact — since starting the year 3-29, the Thunder are a very respectable 16-20. With Durant coming on like gangbusters and Green and Westbrook also showing major progress, getting somewhere near .500 next season won’t require much of a push.”
Serge Ibaka update: The big guy has continued to play more minutes lately than he did early in the season. His last six he’s averaging 9.5 ppg on 60 percent shooting with 7.0 rpg and 1.84 blocks per game. That’s all highlighted by a game against DKV Joventut (Ricky Rubio’s team) where Ibaka went for 16 points, 15 rebounds and a block in 26 minutes.
Jerry Sloan, Thunderfan: “The Oklahoma City Thunder have a big fan — Jerry Sloan – and that’s one reason why the Jazz won’t take them lightly when the two teams meet Friday night in Oklahoma City. “They have a very, very fine young team,” said Sloan, Utah’s veteran coach. “It’s just [a matter of] learning how to play with each other and taking advantage of the skills they have.” Oklahoma City is 19-49 and has been doomed to the lottery since, oh, Thanksgiving. But the Thunder already own a 114-93 win over the Jazz this season and have won six of their past 10 games. Among the victims: Philadelphia, Dallas and San Antonio. “I like their team a lot,” Sloan said. “For a young team, they’ve really come a long way in a short period of time.”
Desmond Mason, children’s book illustrator: “The Thunder will begin distributing the children’s book “Helping Hands,” illustrated by Desmond Mason, on the Rolling Thunder book bus. Mason will read the book to a group of children at Harding Charter Preparatory High School on Monday at 2:15 p.m…Tonight’s game against Utah and Tuesday’s game against the Lakers have both sold out.”
Chris Bernucca of Pro Basketball News says the NCAA Tournament is no match for the NBA. Good luck making anybody believe that: “Everyone who loves the NCAA Tournament — that being everyone besides me — waxes romantic about the win-or-else format, the pageantry and tradition, the opportunity for upsets, the memorable performances. Here’s what I see: A schedule and format that punishes the best teams. Subpar basketball cloaked in futile effort and fight songs. “Upsets” that aren’t really that surprising. And a whole bunch of guys who peak in life before they can legally drink. Is that cynical enough for you? Although I’ve always been an NBA guy, I used to like the NCAA Tournament. I really did. But a confluence of events in the mid-1990s sent me down the path of no return.”
More Oden and Durant stuff: “Finally, I love watching Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, another throwback whose high-scoring ways and overall smoothness remind me of George Gervin. Durant was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in 2007, one spot behind Oden. Anyway, I think Oden will be a more dominant force in the long run. And that’s based on what I saw in 12 minutes when Oden was out of shape. I can’t wait to see the guy totally healthy and neither should you.”