Joe Kaiser of ESPN Insider on Kevin Martin: “In Martin’s case, his shooting appears to really be benefiting from having a point guard like Russell Westbrook who’s so good at penetrating the lane, drawing in defenders and kicking it out to the open guy. HoopData.com reveals that 91.2 percent of Martin’s 3s this season have been assisted, which is a bump up from the 80.8-to-86.4 range he’s averaged on a per-season basis over the previous six seasons with Sacramento and Houston.”
Jason Gallagher of Baller Ball on Oak City: “This one goes out to you, members of the broadcast media who insist on calling Oklahoma City — “Oak City.” I get it. I know it’s rough – 6 syllables is a lot – given that it’s your job to speak and all — but give it a rest. I lived right outside of Oklahoma City for a good 5 years and never once heard a native, visitor, or anyone in that prideful state, call it “Oak City.” In fact, it really annoys every single Oklahoman I know. Nobody calls Kansas City — “Kan City” so there is no point in trying to make “Oak City” happen because it won’t. Like an ex-girlfriend told me once “Stop it and leave it… or my cousin and his friends are going to jump you after school.” So minus the cousin thing… I think you are not only doing a disservice to the Oklahoma City community but to the fine people of the real Oak City — Oak City, Utah.”
Marc Stein of ESPN.com ranks OKC fourth: “They’ll never be known for their ball movement, but the Thunder have clearly been sharing the leather better than they did last season. They also enter the season’s second month as a top-five team in offensive and defensive efficiency, which explains why they’re rollin’ without Harden.”
J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes the NBA should go to 78 games: “The downside is less gate receipts and a smaller revenue from the local television and radio deals for each team. But even that has a bonus: The only way to make it up is to make the playoffs. There’d be more incentive to go for that eighth playoff spot instead of tanking into the lottery. Slightly lower team revenue means slightly lower payouts for the players. The way the union could get its constituents to sign off would be to adopt the long-term view: less wear and tear on the body can help prolong a career. Forty games saved over 10 years amounts to half a season. Ask a 30-year-old NBA veteran what he’d give to have 40 games’ worth of pounding on the court restored to his knees.”
Quote from LeBron about KD in that profile: “I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot. And I know where he is too. He’s in Oklahoma. He’s my inspiration because I see the direction he’s headed, and it’s the same direction I’m headed. I know his mind-set, and he knows mine. It’s a collision course. We’re driving one another.”
Russell Westbrook will wear the new Air Jordan XX8’s tonight.
Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com says Serge Ibaka is the top NBA specialist: “The premier rim protector in the NBA, Ibaka’s presence on the court changes the entire tenor of opposing offenses. He’s leading the league in blocks per game (3.3) for the second year in a row, rejecting nearly 10 percent of opponent field goal attempts while he’s on the floor (almost unheard of). But perhaps the biggest impact he’s had is in the shaping of the Thunder roster: he’s the reason why Jeff Green (traded to free minutes for Ibaka at power forward) and James Harden (traded because Ibaka’s deal made it difficult to give Harden max) are no longer in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will carry the offense, but Ibaka is the linchpin to the Thunder’s defense, and without him the team’s chances at deep playoff success would be greatly reduced.”