John Hollinger has come out with Future Power Rankings where he basically has a formula to predict the heirarchy of power in the league in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Thunder are sitting fourth (Insider): “One area in which they didn’t fare as well, however, was in the market category. Oklahoma City is the smallest NBA market and plagued by some wild weather, two factors that combine to put it well off the radar for most prospective free agents. But there’s hope: The Thunder have an excited fan base, and Oklahoma City might look like a pretty good destination if the Thunder start winning big.”
More on Jeff Green’s improvement: “At any rate, as you scan down the list at #18 in the league is Jeff Green. He has a defensive rating of 96. That means for every 100 hundred possessions he’s surrendering 96 points. If we narrow the search to only include forwards, he jumps to #10 in the league. If we limit it to just the PF spot, he jumps to #6 in the league. At any rate, the point is to illustrate how valuable Jeff Green is to the Thunder, particularly on defense.”
Etan Thomas, blogging for HoopsHype: “Why does the NBA, an almost 80 percent African-American league, constantly uses terms that reference slavery? Why are the CEO’s of the teams called owners? Why do they use the term “property” of a certain team when referring to a player’s employment? Why is the term trading block utilized? Why all the references to slavery, and why hasn’t anyone up until this point objected to this?”
OKC up to 14 in Marc Stein’s power rankings: “It’s just Stan Van Gundy venting after a loss without Rashard and Vince, but I imagine OKC folks will enjoy reading it: “The Thunder are much better than us right now. They would have [won] if we had everybody.” Yes, we do enjoy reading that.
Sitting at No. 16 in SI’s: “Kevin Durant may have lost a duel with Kobe in an OT loss to the Lakers last week, but the third-year forward continues to impress opponents around the league. “The shot quality is much better at this point,” Rockets forward Shane Battier told the Houston Chronicle. “That’s what’s going to make him an elite, elite player, to be able to score without the volume of shots. I think he can do it. When you see his progression, it’s scary.” We’ll have to take his word for it; Durant has connected on only 19.2 percent of his three-point attempts and 42.1 percent overall. But after hammering Orlando by 28 on Sunday, who’s complaining?” [quote]
No. 15 on Dime: “Imagine when Kevin Durant finds his stroke. He’s averaging 24 points a night but is only hitting 19% of his threes.”
And No. 15 on NBA.com: “Tuesday’s OT loss to the Lakers was a heartbreaker for the Thunder, but they made up for it with Sunday’s blowout of the Magic. The next two weeks will be telling, as they play seven of their next nine on the road, where they were 8-33 last season.”
HoopsWorld on OKC’s unsung hero: “So far, that dimension has helped the Thunder immensely as they seek to realize the tremendous potential they are widely believed to possess. It’s early, but the team has played well, and their 3-3 record represents a vast improvement over last season. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green deserve the lion’s share of the credit for their success, but Thabo Sefolosha is equally deserving. His defense is a crucial element of OKC’s defensive scheme.”
John Rhode on the Thunder’s near big week: “Was this Brooks’ favorite Thunder win? “It’s up there,” admitted a smiling Brooks, who cited the two wins over San Antonio and his first victory as interim head coach at Memphis on Nov. 29, 2008. Amazingly, had the Thunder made one more shot in regulation in a 101-98 overtime loss against the Lakers, it would have beaten both participants in last year’s NBA Finals in back-to-back home games over a span of five days. “That would have been fun, huh?” Brooks said. “That would have been a good week.” The Thunder’s NBA Finals near-sweep also raised Durant’s eyebrows. “That would have been pretty cool,” Durant said. Westbrook said he was excited about what transpired Sunday, but not overwhelmed. “Yeah, we won,” Westbrook said. “It wasn’t like the championship or nothing like that.” Teams get to marinate in championships.