I joined Jason Smith on ESPN’s NBA Today podcast to talk about the three-game win streak and the Tyson Chandler deal that wasn’t. I’m on at about 8:30. And I must say, I sound pretty stinking good.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus with a really interesting piece looking at close losses: “Oklahoma City’s bad luck in last-second finishes is no surprise to anyone who has followed the Thunder this season. Time and again, Oklahoma City has been done in by buzzer beaters, including multiple occasions where Kevin Durant has scored to put the Thunder ahead in the closing seconds only to see an opponent match his shot. In fact, Oklahoma City’s futility in close games is historic. No other team in the sample has won less than 25 percent of its close games. Presumably, things will even out to some extent the rest of the way.”
Scott Brooks took a little exception Mark Cuban’s comments and he had a response: “Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ response: “I understand Dallas is a very talented team, and they might have had an off night. They can say whatever they want to say. But we played aggressive, hard, physical, good basketball with two of our better players out.”
The Lost Ogle has ideas with what Oklahoma can do with its $2.5 billion from Obama’s stimulus package: “There is a conspiracy theory being bandied about among NBA fans that there was a nefarious reason behind the Thunder rescinding their trade with the New Orleans Hornets. For those who have forgotten, the Thunder were to receive Tyson Chandler, a borderline all-star center, in return for two guys who can’t make it into the rotation for the Thunder and a second round pick who probably never would have made the team. That’s what you call an unbalanced trade … With the stimulus money to back it up, though, one has to wonder if Thunder GM Sam Presti could find a loophole to un-rescind the trade.”
Russell Westbrook is No. 2 in NBA.com’s rookie rankings: “If we used this column to talk about which rookie was playing the best right now, Westbrook, the newly crowned Western Conference Rookie of the Month, would be sitting on top of the totem pole. But this space isn’t about a snap shot. It’s a big picture look at how the Rookie of the Year voting should go at this point of the season, taking into consideration everything that’s happened from late October through early March. That said, doesn’t trail Rose by much.”
This writer on Bleacher Report thinks he has a plan for OKC. I don’t agree here, but it’s a plan nonetheless: “The number-one player on their list should be unrestricted free agent Jamal Crawford. Crawford seems the perfect fit for this team, he can play his position well, and hit threes. He struggles some on defense but will be able to run the floor well with the team. Second option is the Bulls’ former swingman, Ben Gordon. Gordon is pretty much a mirror image of Crawford, so I guess either or will do just fine. If the Thunder can’t sign any of those two players, then they need to go after a Marquis Daniels. But the main point is they must sign one of these three players.”
The On Deck Cirle revisits Oden v. Durant: “On the other hand, Durant has lead his team to a respectable 2009. His numbers have improved month by month, and he has developed one of the most complete offensive games a 20-year old has ever possessed. He is leading a very exciting team to the title of Bandwagon Favorite Young Team (yes, he’s taking that from the Blazers, too). And we still have no idea how high his ceiling might be. So go ahead, Oden supporters and Blazer fans (who, again, I realize run the internet), argue if you’d like. But it’s futile – you can’t convince me otherwise, and every day you grow closer to being forced to admit you’re wrong.”
Kevin Durant and Jeff Green to be featured in a new Nike basketball ad: “The Leap” campaign allows basketball fans to follow the inspirational, young and up-and-coming NBA athletes as they take the game by storm. Today basketball fans will have the opportunity to connect with the young talent of the NBA as they take the league by storm in an online interactive campaign entitled ‘The Leap.’ The Leap campaign, which was developed exclusively for the Asia Pacific region in partnership with NBA China, provides a unique experience for consumers to follow eighteen of the leagues up-and-coming athletes such as Yi Jianlian, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden as they carve their own personal paths to glory. After all, watching them navigate the difficult road to glory is what makes the game so engaging.”
Ticket prices are supposed to remain steady for next year: “Oklahoma City Thunder season ticket prices for 2009-2010 will remain the same, according to Brian Byrnes, the team’s vice president of tickets and services. Fans in all sections have until April 10 to renew their season tickets. Details on fans wanting to change season ticket options, and the procedure for fans on the waiting list, will be made available in upcoming days.”
The Basketball Jones talks Russell Westbrook and the ROY: They get into at about 14:10.
Basketbawful Worst of the Night: “Kevin Durant: Hmm. The Thunder are 3-0 since Durant got hurt. DON’T TELL BILL SIMMONS. It’ll invalidate half the NBA columns he’s written this year. All three of them. Oh, wait, that’s his total column count for the year. Well, you get my drift. I’d hate to kill his bromance with KD.”
SI player’s poll: “What player would you least like to have on your team? Stephon Marbury, Celtics G…..22%, Ron Artest, Rockets F…..9%, Stephen Jackson, Warriors F/G…..5%, Kobe Bryant, Lakers G…..5%, Gilbert Arenas, Wizards G…..5%”
Fanhouse power rankings; all the way up to 23: “Just a likable young team. Oh, and they put the media through a real live practice, which makes the organization pretty likable as well.”