Dime lists the top five franchise players to build around: “Kevin Durant: 6-9, clearly gets better every season, and is more than three full years younger than LeBron. It’s been said before, but it’s 100 percent true: Kevin Durant has been put on this planet get buckets. He’s averaging a career-best 29.8 ppg this season – is it out of the question that a few years down the road that he’s scoring 35, 36, 40 points a game? I don’t think so. Throw in his increasing rebounding totals (almost eight boards per game this season) and you have a guy who is clearly moving beyond one-dimensional-scorer territory. When it’s all said and done, he could make the Blazers’ selection of THIS GUY one of the greatest blunders in NBA history.”
Your new NBA scoring leader: Kevin Durant.
ESPN’s Award Watch has KD at two in MVP: “The Thunder have won nine straight and Durant has scored at least 25 points in every game since Dec. 19, while the Lakers went 4-1 without Kobe. Which is needed more?”
In fantasy terms, James Harden is a good keeper guy: “Harden has quietly had a very solid rookie season off the bench for the Thunder, proving he has the versatility for a fantasy-friendly game when he gets more playing time. He’s a knock-down shooter from long range, and although his sub-40 percent mark from the field may turn you off, there’s reason to expect improvement. Thanks to hoopdata.com, we can see he’s shooting 43.6 percent at the rim against a league average of 60.7 percent. Considering how athletic he is (listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, he has a true NBA body), that probably can be chalked up to learning on the fly. In just 23 minutes per game, he’s averaging more than three free throw attempts per contest, so getting into the lane isn’t a problem, nor is dishing to find the open man (2.1 assists). Toss in a solid steals rate (1.0) and the fact that only Thabo Sefolosha is standing in his way as a starter, a cheap investment in Harden now should pay off big-time for next season and beyond.”
Valley of the Suns: “Suns fans, remember how you felt when Jamal Crawford hit the three to crush the Suns at the buzzer last month in Atlanta? That’s how Oklahoma City fans feel tonight after the Suns stole a 104-102 win over the Thunder when a Jason Richardson floater with seven-tenths of a second on the clock dropped through to cap a late 10-point Phoenix comeback.”
Mikki Moore: Yay or nay?: “Moore’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told FanHouse on Tuesday that Moore, who had surgery Dec. 18 to repair a right heel spur, should be fully healthy by mid-March and ready to return to the NBA.”
Britt Robson of SI: “Oklahoma City is no mere Cinderella. A league doormat last season with a 23-59 record, the Thunder’s sudden, dramatic ascendance may seem like the plot line for a fairy tale, but no stroke of midnight will return this team to its previous servitude status anytime soon. On the contrary, despite all the huzzahs OKC (33-21 through Monday) has earned for a nine-game winning streak that has propelled it to No. 5 in the Western Conference, many NBA observers still haven’t grasped how fundamentally solid this team has become. Consider how well the Thunder stack up on some of the crucial elements required of a team seeking to make a deep playoff run.”
HoopData now projects cap space. One of the best sites just got awesomer.
Pro Ball Talk on the game: “Impressive game winner for Phoenix — Jason Richardson beat the Thunder’s defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha off the dribble, found all the help defenders late to arrive and got to put up a pretty little floater in the lane that dropped in with 0.7 left. On another note, credit to Goran Dragic, who took over for Steve Nash but played within himself and didn’t make too many mistakes. He finished with 16 and 10.”