Ben Golliver of SI.com says KD is the first quarter MVP: “The case for Durant begins with the Thunder’s 17-4 start, excellent in any season but especially so this year in the wake of the James Harden deal. Much is made of the teamwork-first culture in Oklahoma City, but the Thunder’s steady response after the unpopular trade of a budding superstar speaks first to Durant’s elite reliability. Through five-plus seasons, he’s appeared in more than 96 percent of his team’s games, and this year he’s averaging the third-most minutes in the league and has scored at least 20 points in every game he’s played 30 minutes or more. He delivers night in and night out, regardless of matchups or schedule, and his game is growing: He’s averaging a career-high 8.5 rebounds and registering more than a steal and a block per game, something James can’t claim. He’s shown flashes of an improved post game, his defense has gotten markedly better in the last two seasons and he continues to refine the one-two balance with Russell Westbrook late in games.”
Jenni Carlson: “Fans of those teams love those guys while everyone else around the league thinks they’re punks. The Thunder image makers want you to believe this team is punk-free, but the truth is, they are like every other contender. They need nasty on the court. They need some bad boys. Looks like one might be developing right under their noses.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com: “Westbrook’s playmaking vision and judgment are improving by the day, but the evolution hasn’t quelled the underlying fury of his game. It’s as if a dead sprint is Westbrook’s sole response to any amount of open court, and a full, complete effort the only option his body will allow. Sport VU’s optical tracking data will tell you that other players cover more ground, but I’m consistently impressed with how aggressively Westbrook approaches the hustle game, and how completely he refuses to use his superstar status as a convenient out.”
Darnell Mayberry on OKC’s record pace: “But to write off the Thunder’s early season success using such excuses is to ignore the development that’s been taking place. Individually and collectively, the Thunder has shown a great deal of growth both offensively and defensively. Perhaps to the surprise of many, the Thunder has become the league’s top offensive team even without Harden. Assists are up. Turnovers are down. And a better team-wide understanding of where to be on offense has helped lead to an impressive 49.1 percent shooting clip, the second best accuracy in the league.”
The Lakers are looking to add a point guard desperately. And you know, the Thunder have an extra one kind of laying around. Except, why would the Thunder help the Lakers? And the Lakers have nothing the Thunder really want or could use. Unless L.A. wants to trade Pau Gasol for Eric Maynor, there’s nothing there.
Dave Zirin to Patrick Hruby of Sports on Earth on sports welfare: ” “It’s like this magic alchemy where we take all this public money and it morphs into private profit,” says Dave Zirin, author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games We Love.” “The most egregious example of this is the Seattle Sonics going from the fourth biggest market in the country to Oklahoma City, a market that has one-eighth or one-sixteenth of the per capita income. Why did that move make sense? One place offered corporate welfare and another didn’t. The NBA punished a city for not giving them hundreds of millions of dollars.”