Nice little story about Russ from Nike’s official site: “You know a coaches have a lot of different styles of play. And people like to say ‘that doesn’t fit the players’ or whatever. But I think it’s very important to stay focused on what the coach is trying to do with the team. Because the bottom line is: if you play within the team and achieve your goals together, all the individual stuff will come with that to. And if you want to make it to the next level, you’ve got to achieve those goals.”
In an SI roundtable the great Jack McCallum says the Thunder are one of his favorite storylines so far: “So as not to bring out the big storylines yet, I’m going to say the Thunder’s being above .500. Generally, a young team with one dominant scorer — Kevin Durant, at 28.3 points per game, is averaging 12 more than the second-highest scorer, Russell Westbrook — equates to a struggling team. But there the Thunder stand, just one game out of a playoff spot, even as people in Seattle remain angry about a franchise that was hijacked from under them. But “quarter pole” should be in boldface — it’s really early.”
A recap of KD’s Giving Tree from last night: “First, Kevin Durant took on LeBron James. Then it was Carmelo Anthony. On Tuesday, he took on the challenge of providing a Christmas for kids who otherwise might have gone without one. In a brief break from a busy stretch of basketball for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant took three young boys on a shopping spree at Penn Square Mall, then delegated some holiday shopping to some fans willing to lend a hand. Durant, who trails only James and Anthony in the NBA scoring race after facing the two on back-to-back days, held a “Giving Tree” event for 100 kids served by Oklahoma City-based charities Sunbeam Family Services and Positive Tomorrows.”
The next batch of future rankings has OKC moving up a spot to three: “The Thunder’s strong start propelled them to third in the rankings, as the good play of rookie James Harden and the continued progress of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook caused us to move the Thunder’s roster from sixth to third in our rankings. At this point the Thunder look like a playoff team, although that may actually hurt their score going forward. They possess both their own first-round draft pick and an unprotected one from Phoenix in June’s draft; while we haven’t downgraded them much yet, their draft rating is going to take a hit if both teams continue playing this well.”
There was already some discussion on it, but the Blazers might be shopping Steve Blake.
The Thunder’s fallen off in ESPN’s Award Watch, with KD out of the MVP race and James Harden out of the rookie race. But Scott Brooks is still the coach of the year and Thabo still in the hunt for defensive player of the year: “Few players bring more passion to the defensive end of the court than Sefolosha, who has been the league’s best perimeter defender this season.” But a vote has 55 percent saying KD should be in the MVP hunt.
Chris Tomasson of FanHouse on Shaun Livingston: “Shaun Livingston hasn’t watched a replay. And he never will. On Feb. 26, 2007, Livingston, then with the Los Angeles Clippers, crashed to the floor while driving in for a layup on a fast break against Charlotte. His left knee twisted badly as he suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in NBA history. Before he was carted off on a stretcher, Livingston moaned in agony. Torn was his anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament and his lateral meniscus. He badly sprained his medial collateral ligament and dislocated his kneecap and tibia-femoral joint.”
Tomasson also had this on Twitter last night: “How much does Thunder coach Scott Brooks say Kevin Durant has improved as a defender? “He couldn’t stop me his first year,’’ Brooks said.”
Five things you might not know about Thabo: “My dad is from South Africa. My mom is from Switzerland. My dad is black and my mom is white … I speak three languages — French, Italian and English. (Laughing) I think I can count English.”