For whatever reason, the Thunder doesn’t draw well on TV: “Overall, ratings on TNT are up. Regionally though, some numbers are surprising. Teams like the Lakers (197k), Cavaliers (130k) and Celtics (83k) are drawing good numbers. But what is the deal with nobody watching the Oklahoma City Thunder (12k)? The Bobcats, another team on the rise, is also not a good TV draw in Charlotte (10k – although that number is up significantly from last season).”
Kevin Durant’s victims in HORSE are Rajon Rondo and Omri Casspi (reportedly). Evidently, one NBA executive thinks that sucks: “You gotta have guys with OVERSIZED trash talking personalities. A guy like Eddie House or Rasheed Wallace or even Brandon Jennings. Just an all-round talker. Nash, Nate Robinson, Rasheed, and Baron Davis. Now that’s a HORSE competition worth watching. Omri Casspi should be interesting. He looks like he has some off-the-wall stuff. Not Kevin Durant’s boring a–! And definitely not Rondo! Knock him out making five consecutive free throws!!”
A slighty terrifying, yet potentially exciting piece from Frank Hughes of Sports Illustrated on how Kevin Durant’s extension could be directly affected by the new CBA. Basically, the conundrum is such: If the Thunder waits to offer Durant a max extension instead of doing it July 1 like he’s eligible for, they could save as much as $25 million. But at the same time, the Thunder would risk offending Durant by holding off on the offer just to save money. Durant sayeth: “I never pictured myself with another team … I like these guys so much. I like being around them. But I know this is a business here. A lot of different things happen. As far as being on the basketball court, these are the guys I envision myself playing with. But we’ll see what happens. If it doesn’t happen, maybe they forgot or whatever. I don’t know. I don’t know, maybe they got some other things going on.” A lot of KD’s love for the Thunder stems from the players on his team. Remember that. The last quote from KD is pretty exciting though.
Power rankings! Marc Stein with OKC at nine: “My bad: OKC was way too low last Monday and has been hurt more than any team by our recent struggles to sort out the weekly jumble in the middle. At 16-8 during Durant’s streak of 25-point games, it had to jump.”
Eight on SI: “Russell Westbrook’s 19.7 points/9.7 assists averages through the first three games in February make Thunder coach Scott Brooks happy. His average of 1.7 turnovers in that span makes Brooks giddy. An under-control Westbrook — he’s tied for third among point guards with 3.2 turnovers per game — is another formidable weapon in Oklahoma City’s arsenal.”
Sixth on NBA.com: “The Thunder have won five straight to move from 10th to seventh in the West. The streak started with some improved offense, but they had to get defensive when they shot just 42 percent at Golden State on Saturday. Their three-game trip ends Tuesday in Portland.”
HoopsWorld 11: “The Thunder have won five straight – now eight games above .500. Last year they won 23 games – they’ve already exceeded that by six.”
Pro Basketball Talk on Westbrook winning Player of the Week: “Like many young point guards, Westbrook has been inconsistent. He’s had lapses at the defensive end, struggles with his outside shot, is plagued by turnovers, and has had serious issues finishing at the rim. Westbrook’s True Shooting is currently at 48%, which is one of the worst marks in the league for a starting point guard. Up to this point, Westbrook’s talent has allowed him to be a successful player despite his offensive inefficiency. If he figures his offensive game out, he could become one of the league’s best guards.”
Just a really fun column from Lang Whitaker of SLAM about All-Star games past and present.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express with a very nice feature on Latavious Williams: “The interesting thing about Williams is that he does not seem to get caught up in the selfishness that often plagues the D-League. While he surely deserves credit for this, this is just as much a testament to his coaching staff (led by the well-respected Nate Tibbetts) and the entire Tulsa organization, as they refused to just spoon-feed him minutes early on in the year and really made him earn his playing time by doing things the right way. He’s bought into being a role player, which is a good sign since that is almost certainly what he’ll be if he’s able to carve out a niche for himself in the NBA. His feel for the game is still quite limited, but he’s not a terribly turnover prone guy and seems to understand his limitations.”
Darnell Mayberry on the Thunder beating hurt teams: “Oklahoma City is 8-4 this season against teams playing without its best player or a key contributor. The Thunder will face a Blazers team tonight without All-Star guard Brandon Roy, who is saddled with a strained right hamstring. Portland is also without big men Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla because of knee injuries that cost both the rest of the season. How the Thunder continues to capitalize on opponent’s misfortune could go a long way in determining whether Oklahoma City crashes the playoff party.”