A piece from Empty the Bench looking the best contracts: “The traditional preamble every time we’ve brought up Sefolosha over the past, oh, 3 years is that he’s an underrated gem in this league and one of our favorite players with untapped potential. Well, young Thabo is now a ripe 25 years old, in his fourth NBA season, and doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a dynamic scorer or shutdown defender. That’s fine, I’m not sure that he needs to be either one to make a sizable impact for the fledgling Thunder franchise.” I think I’d disagree about not a shutdown defender part.
If you haven’t heard by now, Kevin Durant has said that he wants to find out if he’s an All-Star like everybody else – in front of his TV. The team finds out a few hours before, but KD has said he wants to watch on TV with friends and family. Clearly this is about to be a dream fulfilled and Durant wants to soak it up. I find that very cool.
Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas on KD: ”When the NBA All-Star reserves are announced Thursday evening, Kevin Durant — whose 29.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game have the Oklahoma City Thunder rumbling toward a playoff spot — doesn’t expect anything. “That’s the last thing I’m trying to think about,” Durant said before a recent game in Dallas. ‘A lot of people talk to me about it, but I try my hardest to shy away from it because that takes away from my team.’ That’s just the humble kid in him talking.”
The Skirvin strikes again: “At one point, at around 12:15 at night, my bathroom door just slammed completely shut,” Rose said. “I don’t know what it was, but it just completely slammed. It took me a minute to kind of figure out what [it] was. If everybody in the town is saying it, then it’s got to be true.” Rose said after Wednesday’s shootaround.”I don’t care whatever somebody said on this team, I believe in stuff like that. It was scary [Tuesday] night.”
Jeff Green with a public service message: “Goodmorning to all, headed to practice…weather is suppose to be bad in okc, so all okc followers drive safe and be careful.”
KD with a worst of the night honor: “He finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 boards in the Thunder’s home loss to the Chicago Bulls, which might make you think he played well. He did not. Facing some tenacious defense from Luol Deng, the league’s third-leading scorer suffered through a stretch in which he missed 16 straight shots as the Bulls slowly built up a double-digit lead. Durant went on to score 12 of his points during the fourth quarter, by which time the game had already slipped away.”
FanHouse power rankings: “This is like the fun-to-watch version of the Houston Rockets. OKC plays hard every night, except they’ve actually got exciting and athletic players doing it. The team’s last four losses have been by a combined five points — to Cleveland, Memphis, Dallas, and San Antonio. Even in defeat, this team impresses.”
Tim Legler has KD as an All-Star: “Another young team making waves out West is the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have a nice young nucleus, an underrated coach in Scott Brooks, a fanatical fan base, and a ridiculously talented superstar to build it all around. Kevin Durant (29.3 points, 7.3 rebounds) has forged himself onto a very short MVP list by showing a greater commitment to rebound his position, making the game easier for his teammates, and taking on tougher defensive responsibilities.”
Thorpe’s Rookie Watch: ”Coming into the season, Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ wish list for Harden probably looked like this: (1) Make 3-point shots, (2) show off your passing skills as a ball mover and assist man and (3) defend with intensity and awareness. Check, check and check. Harden has recovered from a cold-shooting December and is having his best 3-point shooting month of the season — he’s hitting more than 42 percent from deep in January, raising his season mark to more than 37 percent. He also might be the best passer in this class (not including Ricky Rubio, who’s in a class by himself). And we’re not talking about no-looks with mustard, just ordinary passes that get players the ball when they need it. I like what I’ve see from him on defense, too. He is smart and has long arms. Think you’ve beaten him over a ballscreen? Well, he just might poke it away from behind. He gets a steal a game in just 25 minutes a night, not including his deflections that are recovered by someone else. In a recent matchup with LeBron, Harden didn’t play scared. And although LeBron put up impressive numbers, he did not dominate Harden. If Harden can turn into a go-to defensive player he’ll become an even more valuable player on the Thunder.”
NBA.com ranks Harden sixth: “Harden may be coming off the bench, but he’s continuing to be one of the biggest reasons for the Thunder’s turnaround this season. In three games this week, Harden averaged 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds and had a steal in all three games. It’s easy to forget about Harden among all the Thunder talent, but coaches obviously recognized his play by giving him the nod for the Rookie Challenge.”
NBA.com also has a neat little report card for each team: ”The phrases “ahead of schedule” and “exceeding expectations” are being used to describe this season. That would be true if the Thunder actually publicized their schedule or expectations. General manager Sam Presti and Brooks have been careful not to heap any added pressure on the league’s second-youngest team … The plan coming into this season has been on player development and a commitment to defense. That’s equaled a quantum jump in the standings. OKC is 19-8 when out-rebounding foes, has already exceeded last year’s victory total (23) and heads into the second half as a playoff contender squarely in a tight West race. Postseason or not, OKC is on the right track.”