John Schuhmann of NBA.com on what’s working for OKC: “No five-man unit played more minutes last season than the Thunder’s starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. But interestingly, that unit wasn’t all that strong (relative to those of other playoff teams), outscoring its opponents by just 1.2 points per 100 possessions. When he’s got his full complement of players, Scott Brooks has gone with the same starting unit this season. But injuries to Durant, Green and Krstic have forced him to change things up quite a bit. The Thunder have had more success with Serge Ibaka replacing either Green (creating a lineup that is plus-14.5 points per 100 possessions in 100 minutes together) or Krstic (plus-13.8 in 148 minutes). Oklahoma City’s original starting lineup has actually been outscored by 2.2 points per 100 possessions in 200 minutes together this season.”
The Thunder ranked second in ESPN’s Future Rankings behind the Heat: “Moreover, it’s not clear how many of them the Thunder can ultimately keep. Oklahoma City is still sitting on a hoard of cap space, so it ranks fifth in the money category, but it’ll need to be more careful than other franchises because it can’t afford to pay luxury tax in its tiny market. Oklahoma is not a highly desirable landing spot, either, but the team’s bright future should help the recruiting effort.”
Darnell Mayberry with some notes from practice yesterday: “Keep an eye on Russell Westbrook if ever the Thunder has a chance to throw up a halfcourt shot to beat a quarter buzzer. Westbrook and Mo Peterson have been flinging halfcourt heaves after practice the last few sessions, and Westbrook has buried them with surprising consistency.”
Latavious Williams pulled in 21 rebounds for Tulsa last night.
Fanhouse power rankings: “If you want to get NBA players to do something specific on the court, it’s fairly simple: you bribe them with some extra time off. Thunder coach Scott Brooks did this back on November 17th in an effort to get his team to share the ball more, and it worked. OKC handed out a season-high 26 assists in a win over the Rockets, and was given a day off before flying to Boston and beating the Celtics.”
Jeff Green says his ankle feels good: “Asked if a sprained ankle ever fully heals during a season, Green said, “I don’t know, but it’s been feeling great these past couple games. I haven’t even been thinking about it, so I guess that’s a plus.”
KD on the honor: “That’s an unbelievable honor,” Durant said. “So many great people have lived in the state of Oklahoma. A lot of great people have come through here. Then they pick me, only being here for a couple of years. I’m very honored and blessed and also humbled. It’s a great award to receive … I can’t put into words how cool it is to be here,” Durant said. “I’m happy I’m here. God has put me in a great place because it’s the perfect place for me.”