I’m going to start firing up a few weekly features for the season in the very near future including podcasts, weekly chats and a few other running things. And also, we’ve got kind of a unique opportunity to extend our coverage a bit more to Tulsa and the 66ers this season. So get happy.
James Harden left the first practice yesterday with a turned ankle, but Scott Brooks said he’s fine. Nenad Krstic was held out just to let him rest. And Nick Collison didn’t practice again due to a sprained ankle. (USA Today/AP)
SLAM previews the Thunder: ”Before I unleash a hailstorm of praise on Sam Presti that’s going to tap dance around the “Man Crush” zone, let me get this out of the way. Clearly I’d be humming a different melody if Portland had gone the other direction with the No. 1 overall pick in 2007. Though Presti’s model might still be effective with old man Oden in place of Kevin Durant, we’d be forced to monitor Oden’s development and birth certificate this season, while Kevin Durant has already arrived in the League’s elite tier.”
I did a little Q&A with the Boston Examiner about the Thunder’s upcoming season. The fantastic results: ”When you see a team like the Celtics making moves over the last few off-seasons, and other teams doing the same this summer, how do fans of the Thunder react? Royce: Most of the time with indifference. We know what we’re trying to do. It’s not going to happen for us through big name free agent signings or blockbuster trades. We’re working a process and a plan. That’s fine if other clubs go out and spend big. That’s not the name of the game for us and we’re fine with that.”
Two great things: NBATV is now HD on Cox channel 726 and ESPN360.com is now available to Cox users. Thank you Dave Bialis (or whoever is responsible)!
BallerBlogger previews the West: “It was obscured by a terrible first month and little publicity, but Kevin Durant made a massive leap forward last year. Sam Presti continues to surround Durant with young talent, and though I think there are still some roster balance issues (they desperately need a defensive-minded center), there is a ton of talent here. If Durant continues his ascent and Russell Westbrook can improve on a promising but inconsistent rookie year, the Thunder have playoff potential (seriously).”
NBA Outsiders lists the “roles” for a couple teams this year: “The Up Comers: The Oklahoma City Thunder is definitely the future of the NBA. No other team has as many prospects that are ready to explode than in Sooner State. Kevin Durant seems to get that this is his team (watch what he did in Summer League), Russell Westbrook is becoming Chauncey Billups, Jeff Green is on pace to become an All Star and there’s no better fit to that team than James Harden. It happened with Portland last season. Don’t get surprised if Oklahoma City gets 40 or 50 wins out of nowhere.”
An interesting memo sent out by the NBA says, “Replacement refs should be allowed to perform their difficult task free of public criticism by team personnel,” and “Owners, GM’s and coaches should refrain from making any unauthorized public comments about the replacement refs.”
Peace, Love and Thunderstanding: ”So, basically, Presti has had the luxury of long term planning that most other general managers have not been allowed. If he had taken over the Celtics in Boston and been in year three of his term, they would be expecting a serious playoff run by now. (Or even if the team had remained in Seattle.) Instead, he gets to stick with his young core and let them develop. So, maybe it is genius to take advantage, but personally, I think he owes more to the luck of landing in a unique situation. I’ll give him the “genius” tag when he makes a bold move that pays off once the honeymoon has worn off and the team is measured more by results than mere presence in Oklahoma.”
HoopsWorld has it’s top 100 fantasy players list. Kevin Durant is four, Russell Westbrook is 57 and Jeff Green in 93.
I should mention, we have a second Daily Thunder fantasy league ready to go, but we need five more people for it. Interested? Leave a comment or email me.