What’s the best way to riff on 10 different things you’ve been thinking about but don’t really have a reason or hook to write about them? Rank them, that’s what. And not in any kind of actual order, but more just a “I put a number in front of something” kind of thing. It’s not complicated really.
What got me thinking about this was after a recent game watching Kevin Durant come out of the locker room after speaking with the media and how he shook the hands of every Thunder employee there. He called them by name, thanked them and shook their hand. Even as he walked through the tunnel back to the court to see friends and family, he addressed everyone. It was seriously impressive to me. It’s like he’s the president or something.
That would’ve been No.1 but I already mentioned it. So here’s a set of Daily Thunder Power Rankings which seriously have so much power.
1. Kevin Durant’s 3-pointer. Remember when everyone was freaking about how KD was shooting the ball? Saying things like “I KNEW he’d be tired after Turkey” and “That international 3-point line messed him up good!” Well, in December Durant shot 41 percent from 3, getting his season percentage up 33 percent. He’s now 46 percent overall for the season and is looking like he’s in the normal KD groove we saw for most of last season.
Not to say he still doesn’t force up a bad one every now and then but when you’re Kevin Durant and you can routinely knock down bad 3-point shots, I guess that makes them kind of good, right? When Durant gets rolling on his outside jumper like he did against Atlanta, he’s seriously unstoppable. He can catch and shoot like he’s Reggie Miller or Ray Allen, except he’s 6-11 and is so long he scrapes his knuckles on the jumbotron when he elevates for a jumper. The Thunder’s not a strong 3-point shooting team by any means, but Durant makes OKC at least a threat. And now that he’s got that part of his game back, he’s all set to go off for 30 a night just like old times.
2. James Harden’s beard. Yeah, I know this is cliche, but I didn’t realize how more much incredible his face fur had gotten until I saw this picture of him from his rookie year. He’s taken it to the next level and nobody has really even noticed. That’s some great beard hustle. It’s getting to the point with it that I think a Thunder Girl might be stuck inside there. Some day Harden will decide to trim or even shave it all off. When that happens, I plan on punishing myself like Silas in The Da Vinci Code. Except I’ll probably just do some pushups or something, not whip myself and stuff.
3. The Thunder after a loss. OKC is 10-1 after losing. That’s darn impressive. If you’re smart at figurin’ you just realized that the Thunder’s longest losing streak of the season has been two. Consider that the Lakers have had a four-game losing skid and another three-game streak. The Heat have lost three straight. The Mavericks just dropped three in a row. So for OKC to be able to bounce back the way it has is a good quality to have. And a sign of maturity.
4. Thunder health. Much was made of how OKC had four starters appear in all 82 games last season with only Nenad Krstic missing six games. Already this year that lineup has been shuffled around with five different sets of starters trotting out for the opening tip. People have been saying, “SEE! Told you they wouldn’t stay healthy again.” But really, all that’s happened to OKC is just a few minor nicks here and there. Nothing substantial. The team has remained mostly healthy again through the first 35 games with KD missing a few, Krstic missing a couple and Nick Collison sitting out at the beginning of the year.
What the injuries have done though is given us a better look at the prospect of Serge Ibaka starting (a good thing), James Harden getting more playing time (a great thing) and maybe some potential re-shuffling of the starting five. It won’t happen because Scott Brooks seems to like a consistent starting group and admittedly, I really like have Harden’s firepower off the bench (as long as he gets 30 minutes, I don’t care if he starts or not), but we’ve at least seen what a few different lineups would look like.
5. Nenad Krstic in the post. There are signs of excellence here. You can see it. Against the Nets he pulled out a absolutely lovely up-and-under that seriously made me giddy. Problem is, Krstic never goes to the post and when he does, he doesn’t do much. We’ve long talk and hoped for a post presence for the Thunder. I kind of think Krstic could be that, but he hovers and picks and pops instead. I don’t think he’s a consistent threat, but it’s at least an option I think OKC should look at a few times a game, especially when the offense stinks on any given night.
6. America’s Pub before Thunder games. My wife and I had heard all about the special America’s Pub has downtown where you go get a burger, fries and a beer/drink all for five bucks before a Thunder game. It sounded like a fantastic thing to do and recently, we went and tried it out. We walked inside, saw this MASSIVE bar and stood awkwardly waiting for someone to tell us what to do. Nobody ever approached us. So we waited for a second.
Then it started getting like physically weird. You know the feeling. Where you can feel the awkwardness. There were people in there and Mark Rodgers was doing his pregame, but it was like we had to have a special code or something to get attention. We felt like total strangers. I’m sure if you’re a regular you just go plop yourself at the bar, order your burger and everything is wonderful. But for two people trying it out for the first time because of an advertisement, we had no clue what was going on. We never got anyone’s attention despite standing there like a couple of total goons, so we left.
I would rate my America’s Pub experience a zero out of 10. I don’t care how good the deal is. If nobody realizes you even exist in their establishment, it doesn’t do much good, right?
7. Serge Ibaka’s mid-range game. If I were writing this three weeks ago, Ibaka’s jumper would probably be No. 1 or 2. But lately, it’s slipped. To me, it looks like he’s rushing it a bit. Almost like he’s excited when he finds himself open for one. When he’s hitting that jumpshot, OKC is seriously so much better. To be able to have Nenad Krstic’s pick-and-pop ability but in Ibaka’s body is an awesome thing.
8. Triple-doubles. Evidently if you get one within the 48 minutes allotted during a basketball game that doesn’t necessarily mean it was fair. Russell Westbrook picked one up against the Hawks but of course got his last assist with a few seconds left on a Serge Ibaka dunk. Much was made of this with Josh Smith harumphing about it, but again, to me this is so not a big deal. I get sportsmanship and I get not doing that to an opponent that’s beat, but sometimes I think it’s fine to reward yourself like that. Westbrook had played a great game and has come so close to so many triple-doubles. He knew he needed that assist and he couldn’t help it that Ibaka kept missing open jumpers Russ set him up for. So he dumped it to him for the dunk. No biggie in my mind. And yet, here I am still talking about it.
9. Trade chatter. The deadline is coming and you know what that means. Rumors, speculation and hours spent messing with the Trade Machine. The latest is maybe about the availability of Carl Landry in Sacramento. (How about Daequan Cook and D.J. White? Huh huh?!?) But as we get closer and closer to the February deadline, the more we’ll get of random trades with the lead-in of, “Who says no?” People seem to fail to realize that the NBA isn’t quite the revolving door of roster moves that they want it to be. Most teams — especially one like the Thunder — aren’t going to change much, if anything, by or at the deadline.
10. Downtown traffic. I get it. It’s all part of the process in fixing up downtown OKC. It’s part of MAPS. It’s part of the new Devon skyscraper. But holy crap in a basket it shouldn’t take 45 minutes to get from Harvey to Sheridan. They are making some progress but what comes with that is more streets being closed off at different times. Whenever I show up downtown and see that a section of Reno is blocked it makes me want to just hop a curb and plow through the Myriad Gardens.
At some point I’m sure I’ll be thankful for all the improvements and I’ll look back on these few frustrating months of trying to get to Oklahoma City Arena or the movie theater as no big deal. But it sucks right now. And I’m living right now and it’s totally pissing me off. Especially when I’m in a good mood and I exit off I-40 having totally forgot about the construction only to be greeted by 5,000 brake lights and a freaking 45-minute wait until I can park.