D-League Digest is grading teams’ usage of the D-League and OKC gets a B+: “The Thunder is that intriguing new kid in class that all the girls are talking about. Good-looking, fun, smart and lovable (unless you talk to ex-girlfriend and scorned lover, Seattle). But back on point, the D-League aspect of the Thunder definitely falls under the smart category. With 11 combined assignments and call-ups over the past two seasons, it’s clear that this is a team determined to utilizing the D-League to develop its young talent. They’ve built a team that’s set to contend in the West with a young and improving nucleus, and they’re supplementing that core with pieces that they’re molding and fine-tuning in the D-League. Using the D-League is not a perfect science, but that doesn’t stop the Thunder from experimenting.”
ESPN asked its panel of 93 who the player of the decade would be. LeBron finished first, but KD wasn’t far behind: “Chris Sheridan: He can shoot and score as well as anyone in the league, he’s only 21, his height (don’t believe that listing of 6-foot-9 — it’s more like 6-11½) makes him a particularly tough player to defend, and his ego is not out of control. He’ll probably win the scoring title six to eight times if he stays healthy, and he sounds as though he wants to spend his entire career in Oklahoma City, a small market where he’s comfortable and happy. In many ways, he is the anti-LeBron.”
And the cycle starts again – Carmelo Anthony will be traded says Adrian Wojnarowski. That’s all well and good, as long as he goes east.
Ziller looking at Team USA: “Team USA ought to be the favorite. For all the squad’s weaknesses — shooting, size, passing — this collection of talent seems well-suited to asserting its will against all comers. The team’s defense so far really can’t be touted highly enough. In warm-ups, Greece committed 24 turnovers against the United States; Lithuania had 23. Spain had only 14, but new lead guard Ricky Rubio committed four of those, and tends to be turnover-prone in general. Without Jose Calderon out, youngster Sergio Llull will be forced to play more. And with someone as impossible as Russell Westbrook staring him down in a semifinal game, can he be expected to step it up?”
Nick Collison wishes James Harden a happy birthday: “Happy birthday. Although I’m a little sick of hearing about it. You’re an adult now. You don’t have to tell everyone.”
The good guys from ThunderGround Radio get their time in the spotlight: “Living in Vancouver, Canada, Joel Ashbee and Brad Thomas were huge basketball fans who could chat endlessly about their beloved Vancouver Grizzlies. Then the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. A few years later, Brad moved, too — to Ponca City, Okla. Still, Joel and Brad stayed in touch through frequent phone calls to discuss their new favorite team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s when Brad’s wife had an idea.”
Scott Howard-Cooper says the Worlds could bite the Thunder: “Yes, three players vying for world championship spots is the latest credibility boost and, yes, two making the United States roster is another positive light to shine on the city. But the Thunder will have the challenge of playing with a target on their back for the first time — as well as having Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (U.S. men’s team) and Nenad Krstic (Serbia) reporting to camp about two weeks after a hard tournament. That’s 60 percent of the starting lineup, after Jeff Green was also in the U.S. camp. The pressure/experience will be good for Durant and Westbrook in particular and youth will obviously help them bounce back, but there’s a reason a lot of coaches go easy for a while on players returning from national team duty.”
SI looks at the biggest offseason storylines and KD is one of them: “While LeBron needed an hour on primetime television to announce his decision, Kevin Durant needed only 140 characters to reveal his. The league’s youngest scoring champ quietly told the world on Twitter that he agreed to a five-year, $86 million extension with the Thunder. Weeks later, Durant became the face of Team USA as it prepared for the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.”
A bunch of good names have been suggested for the new Ford Center, but I have to say my favorite is “Toby Keith’s I Love This Basketball Arena” via commenter Lefty.