HoopsWorld talked with the Commissioner: “I love talking about the greatness of our youngsters. The continued greatness of the Shaqs, the Kobes, the Nashes, Duncans, Garnetts, combined with the fusion of these youngsters like Derrick Rose-who’s receiving his much-deserved Rookie of the Year award-Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, it’s just an incredible group. And they’re incredible on and off the court… I’m happy with the way it’s all come together, and I’m very proud of our players.”
The On Deck Circle’s top six guys to build a franchise around: “No. 6, Kevin Durant: watch out for this guy. If he puts on a little bit more muscle he will be one of the most serious threats in the NBA and his supporting cast in Oklahoma is getting better.”
Scott Howard-Cooper of SI on the MIP debate: “Most Improved Player is a great debate. Kevin Durant ordinarily shouldn’t be in contention — his strides came from the first season to second, when players should make their big move with the rookie learning curve complete. But Durant, who was drafted No. 2 overall in 2007 and projected for stardom, has exceeded the normal trajectory. It wasn’t hard to find a coach or executive who would knock him last season as a gunner more than a scorer without a clue about defense. This season, with much more discipline in his offense, Durant went from shooting 43 percent to 47.6, and from 20.3 points a game to 25.3, despite just 24 more attempts.”
Luke Byrnes of HoopsWorld looks at four “can’t miss” prospects of this draft. One, I’m not so sure is can’t miss. I kind of feel like he is “probably miss”: “Thabeet was expected by many to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 draft coming into the college season and did little to fall from the top spot and instead was leap-frogged by the likes of Griffin and 18-year old international point guard prospect Ricky Rubio. Thabeet (7-3, 265) is a true, back to the basket center in an era with a dearth of legitimate big men, making some of his deficiencies easier to overlook than other prospects in this year’s draft. While the big fella certainly has several chinks in his armor he has thrived in a major-college program for three years as one of the premier shot blockers in the country and has steadily improved his offensive game and rebounding, averaging 10.8 rebounds per game in his final season under Coach Jim Calhoun. Thabeet lacks polish in the offiensive post and is less than physical on the defensive end, but his athleticism, work ethic and ability to run the floor are certainly intruiging aspects to his game which make this shot blocking specialist a definite Top-5 pick and a player who will make an immediate impact on the NBA level.”
A comment from reader Alex: “Please don’t ask me how I got this information but on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this morning Kristin Chenowith, the Broadway star from OKC, was wearing a KD jersey during her interview…” Hopefully I can get a picture of that soon. For more than one reason if you know what I mean…. HEY! (Also, don’t forget that she was this year’s Ogle Madness champ) Update: OK, I got one: More update: Video! I’m a Kristin Chenowith fan now (even though there’s probably a zero percent chance I ever see anything she’s in). Very cool that she did that.
The honeymoon is over, Greg Oden: “Injuries aside (he missed 21 games this year), when Oden has played he’s been a magnet for refs’ whistles. In 61 regular-season games, he had five-plus fouls in 23 of them, and that doesn’t include fouling out in Game 2 of Portland’s series against Houston. He’s had some standout games — 24 points and 15 boards against Milwaukee, 17 and 12 with six blocks against New York — but his development is still behind the curve, especially when you see that ‘07 Draft classmates Kevin Durant and Al Horford are leaving Oden in the dust.”
It’s almost certain that Clay Bennett will be keeping his $30 million: “People in Seattle may be able to hear the sounds of champagne corks popping in Oklahoma City Sunday night. It appears that former Sonics-turned-Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett will get to hold on to the additional $30 million he agreed to pay Seattle when he moved the NBA team last year. That payment would’ve been made had Seattle not gotten a new team within five years and if the Legislature approved a plan this year to dedicate future tax monies to help refurbish KeyArena if another professional basketball team became available. Senate Bill 6116 would’ve done that, as well as directing existing hotel and restaurant taxes now being used for Seattle’s sports stadiums to things like tourism promotion, the arts and low income housing. Barring a Lazarus-like rise from the dead by 6116 in the final hours of the ’09 session, Bennett may turn out to be the biggest winner of this tough legislative session.”
Draft Express situational statistics on the center position: “There are a number of reasons to be skeptical about Thabeet’s ability to score on the NBA level. First, he got only 11.8 possessions per-game on the offensive end this season, 5.4 of which came on catch and finish opportunities off of offensive rebounds, cuts, or otherwise. His total touches would rank him second to last amongst our power forward group and in the middle of the pack amongst our centers. He shot 73% on his finishing opportunities, using his size effectively and dunking anything he could, and also shows some ability to get up the floor and make some small contributions in transition. Nearly all of Thabeet’s touches came within 5 feet of the rim, as evidenced by the fact that he only took 14 jumpers all season. His 1.08 PPP on the block was better than any player we looked at with the exception of DaJuan Blair, but his 4.1 touches was below average for a center. Obviously Thabeet did a solid job getting more touches as time went on, but he’s still didn’t generate many scoring chances as a senior in comparison to the players he’s competing with for draft position.”
Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Gate wants to trim the league of six teams: “No. 2 Oklahoma City: Was that some kind of joke, bailing out on Seattle? The fans up there deserved better, and players throughout the league miss going there. Despite an early rush of excitement, there’s no NBA future in Oklahoma City.” Is that a challenge Mr. Jenkins? Because I like challenges.