Kevin Pelton ranks the top 10 under the radar prospects: ”D.J. White, Oklahoma City – N/A (18.3 mpg, .599 Win%) As a rookie, White barely got a chance to play. A pair of surgeries to remove a benign growth from his jaw limited White to 130 minutes of NBA action. In that span, White did reinforce the notion drawn from his college stats that he is ready to contribute off the bench right away. Think Paul Millsap (a past member of the Diamond Rating list) or Carl Landry, at least a light version. The only concern about White is the battle for playing time in the Thunder frontcourt, with Nick Collison, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic already established and rookie Serge Ibaka making a case for minutes with his preseason performance.”
Britt Robson of SI writes about the difficulty for young centers: “Compare that with the fact that only two centers were drafted in the first round this year — Memphis’ Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2 and Oklahoma City’s B.J. Mullens at No. 24 — and both are considered longer-term projects. Landing a big man who can immediately master the intricacies of his position in the low block — now that’s tough.”
Sports Illustrated’s preview is out and let me tell you, I look forward to this every year. I used to just get excited for the baseball, and college sports previews because I’d grab it and immediately sling it open to my favorite team’s page. Now as of last year, I get to do it for the NBA preview. And within the preview, advanced scouts have the Thunder finishing 12th in the West and SI predicts OKC to finish 11th.
Ball Don’t Lie’s blue ribbon preview: ”Now, create a list of the top five teams you feel like are heading in the right direction, look at the team’s youth and all those draft picks and the salary flexibility and Durant, Durant, Durant … I can understand the excitement. The Thunder make that list. They might top that list. But we can’t confuse excitement and hope and youth and moral victories with an actual “W,” with matching and then moving beyond the production of an opponent for 48 minutes. Because there just won’t be too many times where that happens. There are too many minutes to play, too many players to defend, too many shots to take by people not named “Kevin Durant.” The team’s not good enough, yet. And that’s OK.”
Memphis unveils an alternate jersey. I’m waaaaaaaaiiiiiting.
Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writes about OKC’s future: ”The future, as they say, is so bright in Oklahoma City that everybody should be wearing sunglasses. The annual survey of the league’s general managers picked the Thunder as one of the NBA’s most likely teams to rumble up through the standings with improvement. The GMs also think Kevin Durant’s elevator is rising so fast that he might shoot straight through the roof before the All-Star break.”
The NBA and its refs are getting closer to an agreement.
A slightly amusing thing from Jeff Capel’s Twitter: “Just landed in Portland and I happened to hear the lady sitting next to me on the phone say “hey honey, I’m not in LA….I told u, I’m in Washington!” I spent time talking to her on the flight. Portland is in Oregon. Of course, she’s a UT grad ;-). Enjoyed talking to her tho!”
Nolan Richardson plans on bringing 40 minutes of hell to Tulsa: ”And the coach said he will tell anyone who will listen. He thinks he can convince some new fans (i.e. male mainstream basketball fans) to embrace the WNBA. “Women’s basketball is big in Oklahoma and I would be really surprised if Tulsa doesn’t have great support for us,” Richardson said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could bring this team to the heights it deserves. This team has won three championships and we want to put it back there.”