Andrew Sharp of Grantland on KD: “Even when he was dropping 30 every night and going to the Finals, I couldn’t help wonder how much more impossible he could get. His jumper’s as deadly as anyone on earth … he can get his shot off over anyone … he’s the most efficient scorer in basketball … his handle’s gotten better every year … he might be better at drawing contact than anyone in the league. So what happens when he takes every unfair skill he has and maxes out on everything? I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening right now. He’s been amazing the last few years, but now he’s hitting that next level we’ve been wondering about. Russell Westbrook’s hurt, Durant’s better than ever, and the combination of those two things means we get to watch him go scorched earth pretty much every night.”
Sam Eifling of Deadspin: “Everyone who notices fat, smooth numbers would’ve preferred Durant round out the night by cracking 40. But we’re getting spoiled. Tonight in Toronto, the Raptors beat the Mavs behind a 40-spot by DeMar DeRozan, his career high. It was the first 40-point game for Toronto since Andrea Bargnani poured in 41 (on just 24 shots) against the Knicks in late 2010. Durant has topped 40 four times in the past three weeks. The exceptional has become pedestrian. It’s all Durant, all the time. The bodies of the victims are the least of the league’s problems.”
Derek Fisher writing on his website: “Since I came here to Oklahoma City the first time, at the back end of that 2012 season, I’ve always been very observant about picking my spots to say certain things, how to say them and being a complementary player and a supporting leader to this group of guys. My perspective in that regard hasn’t changed much since camp. I’m trying to evolve and find ways — not just to be that veteran leader, and help bring some wisdom and experience as far as being a locker room presence, but to make a positive impact and contributions on the court as a high level player. Obviously, being a guy who is 39 years old (and in this business is considered to be way past his prime), working hard, remaining healthy and being able to play an entire season healthy is something I value. It’s a way of proving to people who 10 years ago were calling me old that I’m still working hard, and still able to play well.”
Think about this: The Thunder are definitely going to be better with Russell Westbrook.
Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.com: “Heck, at that rate, I would like to see him go after Kobe’s 81-point mark. If, as Kobe told you, Durant can be a 7-foot version of the Mamba, I’d say that’s beyond possible. And it would almost certainly lock up the MVP this season. It didn’t do it for Kobe, but his team wasn’t as good as Oklahoma City’s. Rather than wonder when Durant’s hypothetical reign would end if he had been drafted by a ready-to-win team, we need to wonder when LeBron’s ring run will finish. But even if it lasts another three years, Durant will be only 28 years old. That happens to be Jordan’s age when he won the first of his six championships. Of all the attributes Durant possesses — length, shooting touch, work ethic — his greatest asset might be his youth.”
Zach Harper of CBSSports.com on KD: “This immediately leads to talk of the MVP race, which I believe is a mistake of a reaction. It does nothing to talk about if the season ended today, you’d give out the awards to certain people because if the season ended today, we’d all be terribly confused as to why they only played half a season. Instead, let’s just marvel at what Durant is doing, pop some popcorn, and enjoy the show. We have months to argue about the end-of-season hardware that will be given away. We may not have months or even weeks of what Durant is doing right now. He’s become appointment viewing as an individual in a way we last saw when Kobe Bryant went on his torrential tear in January of 2006. Let’s just do what his opponents are doing and appreciate the show. We rarely get to see anything like this.”
OK, so last night I went through and read some tweets from Skip Bayless (I don’t follow him, nor do I ever watch First Take). Obviously, this is his schtick, and he seeks attention by saying contrarian, dumb things. But come on now, man. Now that LeBron’s proved him a dummy, he’s moved on to trolling KD. It’s just painful. Back to ignoring the nonsense.
David Thorpe of ESPN Insider says Steven Adams is the best rebounding rookie: “Adams has advanced metrics on his side for this award, but he also earns the prize based just on the eye test. Watch him make the proper rebounding effort on each shot. See him grab, shove, push, all while moving his feet and positioning his body to be in a prime rebounding spot when the shot is released. Adams knows his role and it looks like he has embraced it fully. He’ll likely never lead the league in rebounds per game or rebound rate, but he has been a dominant offensive rebounder with those scorers next to him, and there’s no reason to expect that can’t continue for years.”
Andrew McNeil in the Dime: “And bring it home, Durant did for the Thunder. KD will always produce big performances and draw the most attention, both on court and off of it, but Jackson is starting to find his share as he comes through for Oklahoma City when the spotlight is on. So far, he’s showing he can handle it on the court. As for off of it? The first step is being dressed for the occasion.”
Wish Mrs. Daily Thunder a happy birthday today. She’s pretty great.