Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company and I discussed Melo-Durant for the Daily Dime: “You are right, Royce, he was flustered early when he missed the back-to-back layups and received less help from his teammates than the castaways did from Gilligan. It bears mentioning that this game is following on the heels of a 42-minute, 39-point, 10-rebound effort from Durant the night before.”
SI’s Award Watch: “[Durant] blocked 1.2 shots per game in February, a pretty good indicator he’s learning to excel on both ends of the floor. And leading the Thunder to the best month since the franchise moved to OKC (9-2) is a pretty good indicator he’s learning how to compete for the MVP.”
Dime wonders who could break Scott Skiles’ assist record: “Playing alongside scorers like Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and James Harden, Westbrook could easily drop 30 dimes in one night.”
Basketbawful: “The Thunder’s 119-90 loss to the Nuggets in Denver should be a pretty good indicator that — as good as this team has been this season — they’re probably a first round exit waiting to happen. No shame in that. They’re a young team on the rise. But the spanking still smarted a bit. Not only was this OKC’s worst loss of the season, it was their biggest defeat since a 30-point whupping by the Frail Blazers last April. Said Kevin Durant: “This is a wake-up game. You are going to have games like this. You have think about what we did, move on and make the adjustments we need to make for our next game. It’s just a bump in the road. A minor setback.” Uh huh.”
For those of you that saw a Saturday Morning Cartoon today, shh. Don’t tell anyone. It was an accident. Never speak of it again.
Art Garcia on the toughest division in basketball: “The Northwest is a true battle royale. It’s a sprint to the finish with four of the division’s five teams having eyes on the top spot. The Nuggets, Jazz and Thunder each began Wednesday with winning percentages better than 60 percent. (Only seven other teams in the league can boast that.) And the Blazers aren’t far behind.”
So do we get to chant “N-W-D! N-W-D!” when someone from the Northwest beats an Atlantic Division team? Is that how this works?
HoopsWorld giving Serge some love too: “Even though this is his rookie season, you’d swear Ibaka had been around forever. He has one of those names that makes him sound like he was a bench player for the Spurs earlier in the decade, but this promising big man (yet another bit of draft gold by OKC) is only getting better as he goes, and is definitely one of the best shot-blockers in the class. He averaged 13.5ppg this past week, including his second double-double of the season. He’s blocked two or more shots in four straight games (averaging only a shade over 20 minutes per game in that time) and is making local papers wonder if the Ibaka could be the missing big man the team has so desperately needed. He may be better suited as a niche role-player, but his numbers per 48 minutes are looking pretty sexy right now. You have to wonder what he could do with more playing time.”
Westbrook has the game to be a superstar, says this writer: “The only real question about Westbrook is: Will he develop into the star player his talent suggests he will be, or will he remain content to thrive in Durant’s shadow and his team’s success? Westbrook seems like he is the perfect teammate, so I’m sure he would be fine as long as his team continues to win, but he may be reaching a point in his career where his game can no longer be shielded in obscurity.”
Kurt Helin on offering KD a max deal: “Durant, even with a max contract, is going to make the Thunder money. He drives the television ratings that lets the franchise charge more for local deals. He drives season ticket sales and renewals. He is the one team sponsors want to be associated with. He sells jerseys. Save money by not offering the role players around him oversized deals. There are times and places to be smart with your money.”
Pro Ball Talk on OKC’s miserable loss: “The dreaded road SEGABABA (SEcond GAme of a BAck to BAck) for the Thunder, and once the Nuggets foun their rhythm, this was chalk. When Birdman Anderson is hitting jumpers? It’s not your night. The Nuggs can sure defend and score. After they’ve had their backsides handed to them by two Western Conference contenders and as long as they’re at home against a team on a SEGABABA (second game of a back-to-back). Fine win for the Nuggets, not a huge loss for the Thunder, they were due one of these. Just your regular schedule-based beatdown.”