I may be a little in and out today as I’ll be captaining the ship at TrueHoop today, filling in for Henry and Kevin. So if you see anything awesome or just want to tell me how I screwed it up, shoot me an email.
Chad Ford rates Kevin Durant as one of the best picks of the decade: “Kevin Durant became the first freshman to win NCAA Player of the Year honors — but still couldn’t get taken No. 1 thanks to Ohio State big man Greg Oden. Thunder GM Sam Presti is forever grateful that Durant fell. He is one of the best scorers the game has ever seen. He can kill you from anywhere on the floor. Although he still needs to work on his defense and continue to get stronger, Durant is already one of the best small forwards in the game. I think all of us can imagine him averaging 30 points per game in his prime and leading the Thunder to an NBA title down the road.”
John Krolik and Kevin Arnovitz asked some key questions for 2010: “I think Oklahoma City wins a playoff series when their backcourt clicks into place, and that’s close to happening. I love Westbrook’s game and think he has a ton of potential, but he just needs to be more disciplined. He pushes the ball, plays great defense, and does all these little things, but then he’ll throw up a bad jumper, brick a full-speed reverse layup, or make a silly pass, and his true shooting percentage and turnover rates are way off of where they need to be because of that. It’ll be interesting to see if the answer there is Harden maturing to the point where he can play 30-35 minutes a game and cover some of Westbrook’s weaknesses with his shooting, playmaking and ability to create off the drive. (Combo guards!) But I think that young frontcourt is the envy of a lot of teams in the league, Sam Presti keeps getting valuable pieces without giving up much, and I’d call the future very bright there.”
Scott Brooks thinks Russell Westbrook can do a better job on the glass: “When asked about Russell Westbrook’s potential to blossom into a nightly triple-double threat, Brooks said the rebounding category currently is the most difficult stat for his point guard to accumulate. Westbrook is third among point guards in rebounding with a 4.9 average, his 1.6 offensive boards ranking first among players at the position. “Offensively, he’s a pretty good rebounder,” Brooks said. “But he needs to focus more on getting defensive rebounds. I think he can get five of those a game.”
James Harden is at No. 8 in NBA.com’s rookie rankings: “Harden has made the most of increased playing time. In the Thunder’s last eight games, Harden has averaged 11.6 points and scored in double-digits in five straight at one point. But with so many options in OKC, Harden continues to fly under the radar, thanks to his team-first attitude. “You can never have enough unselfish playmakers,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told the East Valley Tribune. “The thing I like about him is he’s unselfish but he can do a lot of things scoring-wise. Some guys are unselfish because they can’t be selfish. They can’t score. They can’t make plays. James can, but he puts his teammates first.”
David Thorpe’s rankings are out too: “Harden has earned more minutes this month, but not because he is shooting any better. In fact, his shooting numbers are down from 41 percent to 38 percent on field goals overall and from 40 percent to 28 percent on 3s. However, he has improved as a defender and is finding ways to contribute in other areas. Combined with Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder are getting solid production at the shooting guard position.”
Ibaka and Eric Maynor also made the list for December’s best rookies: “Ibaka is learning how to position himself and finish inside, improving his field goal percentage from 40 percent in November to almost 60 percent now … Maynor looked like a promising backup to Deron Williams in Utah. After being traded to OKC, he’ll look to be the same thing to Russell Westbrook.”
Awesome article on the impact of Hurrican Katrina on the NBA: “But it is impossible to have a conversation about the NBA in the 2000s without discussing the impact of how nature’s unforgiving assault forever changed the professional basketball landscape. Changed it in ways the smartest, most forward-thinking minds in the league could not have seen, changed it in towns thousands of miles apart, changed it so much that events shaping the league are still unfolding more than four years later. New Orleans had a team, lost a team, got a team back, then got a special All-Star weekend that stands as one of the genuinely impactful moments for the NBA. Seattle lost a team. Oklahoma City, which knew pain and the healing process all too well, got a team, then got a good a team that in December 2009 has rewarded its fans for their laudable early support. All because of Katrina.”
A little site news: Yesterday evening, Daily Thunder went over a million hits (and I think only 500,000 were my mom refreshing constantly). And that’s in well under a year of official operation. I can’t say how much I appreciate everyone who reads and comments. Seriously, thanks.