David Thorpe of ESPN Insider: “Westbrook’s will to win pushes him to an interesting conundrum. When he is making shots, he distributes the ball beautifully, orchestrates a devastating attack and is ready to explode when the defense spreads out to cover their scorers. When he is missing shots, he wants to keep shooting as if he must be the one to get his team going. Mediating that urge is simply part of a player’s maturation process. The Thunder are scoring 110.5 points per 100 possessions, which is the league’s best and a full two points better than what the San Antonio Spurs led the league with last season. When Westbrook is making shots as well as distributing them, the Thunder can easily continue leading the league in scoring efficiency. Indeed, they won four of their past six games by double figures, including huge blowouts over hot teams (Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors) on the road.”
Mike Wise of the Washington Post on KD’s MVP chances: “Steve Nash. Larry Bird. Mark Price. Reggie Miller. Dirk Nowitzki. That’s it. That’s the list. And Nash and Bird are the only players to do it more than one season. Durant is now on pace to become No. 6 in the .50/.40/.90 club. Third in scoring, he takes two fewer shots per game than LeBron and Carmelo, the other two genuine MVP candidates. He’s also averaging career highs in assists, steals and blocks. As good a season as Anthony is having, Durant is a better defender; he plays both ends of the court as well as anyone outside of LeBron. And clutch, so clutch.”
One thing I just have to point out: I love how Mike Wise conveniently found a way to not mention Jose Calderon as a 50-40-90 member. Because 50-40-90 seems like a very elite, incredible achievement. But having Calderon’s name there cheapens it. Still, he did it and no one wants to give him credit for it.
Pretty big Thunder news: Anderson Varejao needs knee surgery and will miss 6-8 weeks. So say goodbye to that dream.
Draft Express: “Really liked the way Daniel Orton looked today for Tulsa in Reno. Finally starting to reach his potential? Only 22. Could be a steal for OKC.”
Trey Kerby of TBJ on KD admitting the Thunder didn’t take the Wiz seriously: “But this sort of thing does happen, good teams not playing their hardest against bad teams. How else do you explain the Bobcats having such a good record against the Lakers? It’s nothing to worry about, unless the Thunder decide to treat every team like the Wizards. But since most teams don’t poop in each other’s shoes, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, if every other team in the league starts acting like the Wizards, then the Thunder are in trouble and my job gets super easy. A man can dream.”
Darnell Mayberry: “With the Minnesota Timberwolves coming to town Wednesday without the services of star forward Kevin Love because of a broken hand, the Thunder has another chance to show the proper level of focus against a short-handed team. If Monday taught us anything, it was that the first quarter will be pivotal. Oklahoma City prides itself on being a defensive-minded team yet yielded 30 points in the opening period at Washington, the league’s lowest scoring team. Breakdowns, lapses and all-around bad energy filled the quarter, and that level of play carried on throughout the final three periods.”