Not much happening on the Thunder front today. So I’ll take this second to ask myself, why do I watch 24 every Monday? You’ve got armed terrorists in full camo from Darius Songalia invading the White House and taking the President captive, Bill Buchanan (only my favorite character) dies, the President’s daughter becomes Godzilla in .003 seconds and just pisses everybody off that’s watching, then just when one story gets wrapped, Jack says, “This isn’t over” and the whole thing picks up again and then Jack gets framed for the 29th time and has to go behind the world’s back to save the world. Sigh. Can’t wait for next week.
HoopsWorld rookie watch: “Once wins are taken out of the equation, however, there’s been little difference between Rose and OKC’s Russell Westbrook for most of this season. He only gets better each game and is starting to rack up seven-and-eight assist games with regularity, and he more than almost anyone else in the class (except maybe L.A.’s Eric Gordon) can blow up for 30 points on any given night. The difference between him and Gordon, though, is that Westbrook will also dish 6 assists and grab 4 rebounds.”
The D-League is trying out a cool playoff system. Too bad the 66ers are 7-29 and losers of nine straight: “For the first time, eight teams will qualify for the 2009 NBA D-League postseason, including the winners of the three divisions along with the five teams with the best regular season records, regardless of division. New for the 2009 postseason, the three division winners will have the unique opportunity to select their first round opponent from the teams ranked five through eight. The top-seeded division winner will select its opponent first, with the second and third ranked division winners following in that order. The fourth seeded team will play the remaining team.”
Wonderful New York Times article on Blake Griffin: “The recruiting ground for Blake Griffin’s college decision came at the family dinner table one night in April 2006. Taylor had returned home from Norman, Okla., and soon after the family finished their pre-meal prayer, Taylor quizzed his younger brother about his college future. He then raved about the direction of the Sooners’ program under the newly hired coach Jeff Capel and the benefits of staying close to home.”
SI power rankings: “It’s a long way from Stockton-to-Malone, but Westbrook and Nenad Krstic have developed a nice chemistry on the pick-and-roll. A handful of Westbrook’s 10 assists during his triple-double against Dallas went to Krstic, who has stabilized the frontcourt since signing in December. “Those two are playing well together,” general manager Sam Presti said.”
Sean Deveney interviewed Tyson Chandler: “SN: Turf toe, ultimately, was the reason the Thunder failed you in the physical and rescinded the trade. Did that surprise you? TC: Honestly, I was very surprised. I was shocked. My toe is fine.”
Pro Basketball News’ David Friedman looks at the evolution of KD: “He looks like a completely different player than he did during his rookie season. There are two reasons why he has improved so much: (1) Scott Brooks replaced P.J. Carlesimo as Oklahoma City’s coach early in the season and Brooks’ first move was to immediately switch Durant back to his natural small forward position instead of deploying Durant at shooting guard; (2) Durant did not listen to all of the overheated praise showered on him before he even played one regular season game but instead he put in the necessary work during last offseason to address his skill set weaknesses relative to playing at the NBA level.”
The Thunder is some people’s favorite team for different reasons: “Over the past few weeks, I’ve ridden the Oklahoma City Thunder. Why? Well, this team might be one of the best kept secrets in the NBA. The Thunder are 37-23 against the spread and have covered five of their last six contests. Heck, in their last four contests, they didn’t even have Durant and they still won three of them outright. Remember, this team was dogged by seven points at Memphis only to win 99-92 on the road and then was dogged by six points to the Mavs at home without Durant or Green. Despite injuries to two of their key players the Thunder had relatively no problem as they defeated the Mavs 96 and buried 70 percent of the public in the process.”
NBA.com power rankings: “The Thunder are now 4-1 since Kevin Durant sprained his ankle and 3-1 without both Durant and Jeff Green. (Trade ’em!) Nenad Krstic has picked up some of the slack, averaging 16.4 points on 57 percent shooting (not a bad midseason pick-up) and the defense has been much improved (100.2) over the last five games.