Sports Business Journal looks at the affect of the Thunder on OKC’s minor league franchises: “Oklahoma City, No. 3 in SportsBusiness Journal’s ranking of minor league markets in 2007, didn’t qualify for this year’s list. The reason? The arrival of the NBA Thunder in town last year put the city into the category of major league markets. Economically, there are many statistics in Oklahoma City’s favor. The local unemployment rate is lower than the national average, population has increased at double the rate of the increase seen in the minor league markets in our survey, and the amount of total personal income in the market has risen about 30 percent over five years, nearly double the national average. The past year, however, also brought the departure from Oklahoma City of the CHL Blazers. Despite being among the attendance leaders in all of minor league hockey for years, the team closed its doors this summer after a 17-year run, citing the economic downtown. Attendance for the AF2 Yard Dawgz was down this year, and the Class AAA RedHawks are posting lower numbers at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark this summer, as well.”
An EXCELLENT account from Barry Farms (h/t Martz): “All summer long, I’ve heard rumors that Kevin Durant’s been playing down at Barry Farms. I’ve spent the previous 5 or 6 years talking about making a trip down there to see the legendary league for myself, but until this summer, I’d never been. Kevin Durant’s presence changed that. We’re talking about one of the 5 or 6 best basketball players on the planet, and the only person in the NBA with enough talent to perhaps lay claim to the throne that “King James” has occupied in such douchetastic fashion to this point. That a player of Durant’s stature would play in a summer league in his hometown says a lot about his character. Or more specifically, why he’s so awesome.”
Kyle Weaver is returning home to do a little work: “Oklahoma City Thunder guard and Beloit native Kyle Weaver is returning home to provide a special day for children and families in Beloit. On Saturday, August 29th Weaver will kick off Weaver of Dreams Day by providing a free basketball camp for 100 boys and girls from the area at Beloit Memorial High School’s Barkin Arena from 9 AM until noon. When camp breaks Weaver will head over to distribute a box of food and personal care items to 400 children and families from the Beloit area.”
PBN’s look at the top 20 power forward and Uncle Jeff checks in at No. 13: “Although teammate Kevin Durant stole the show at the U.S. Olympic trials, Green got rave reviews, too. Anyone who watches him appreciates his feel for the game, and turning into a 40 percent 3-point shooter really expands his repertoire. If that wasn’t a fluke — it likely wasn’t — he’s a candidate to break out after averaging 17 points and seven boards in just his second season.”
A nice feature from NBA.com on the Thunder’s long-term plans: “This summer wasn’t about fireworks in Oklahoma City. There wasn’t a big, splashy trade or head-turning free-agent signing to be made by a franchise with the ability to do both. No big-name coach burst through the door ready to turn the whole thing around. But to assert that all was quiet on the prairie isn’t fair. The Thunder front office is working. A plan is in place to build a Playoff contender. You’ve just got to listen.”
More on KD’s performance from Barry Farms: “Durant finishes w/ a double nickel. Won’t be his last–at the farms, in the league, whatever. He’s no joke. (And lanky as hell in person).”
Chris Mannix of SI has his first power rankings out: “No. 20 Oklahoma City – On paper, OKC looks to be a year or two away from contending for the playoffs. But don’t rule it out: Kevin Durant has two years of experience as a No. 1 option, Russell Westbrook looked phenomenal at the USA Basketball camp and smooth rookie James Harden should contribute immediately at shooting guard, a team weakness last season. Whether the Thunder can hold their own on the interior remains to be seen.”
Russell Westbrook just missed the cut for the top five point guards in the league.
NBA.com has Kevin Durant’s top 10 plays from last year:
Just 63 more days until the Thunder kicks off its second season. But the good news is, just 10 days until college football.