Ben Golliver of SI.com picks the 12-man USA roster: “A friendly reminder: At 23, Durant averaged a team-high 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 52.3 percent on three-pointers during the 2012 London Olympics. Every time he steps on the court, the four-time scoring champion creates a “pick your poison” dilemma for defenses: defend him with single coverage and pray, or send the extra defender and cross your fingers. During scrimmages, both methods have run into some trouble, as Durant has undressed Kenneth Faried in the post with a series of shake moves, and also zinged crosscourt passes to Harden for wide open corner threes when two defenders collapsed. What’s more, the players who are best equipped to slow him down — LeBron James, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard — aren’t available to any of the USA’s international opposition.”
Zach Lowe of Grantland on lottery proposals: “The tournament is a fun idea, and it would tweak the incentives at least a bit away from late-season tanking. Ditto for another popular idea, though one that might not be part of any official proposal sent to the league: putting at least the two last playoff teams in each conference into the lottery. Shortening playoff series would be the best way to make just getting in more appealing, but the league isn’t going there. It’s healthy to consider other methods to reach the same goal. Any lottery system limited to only a portion of the league will have some built-in demarcation point around which tanking at least a game or two becomes optimal. Proposals like The Wheel and the leaguewide lottery with even odds recognize that reality by obliterating all of those lines in the sand.”
The most hated team in each state. You’ll never guess the one state that hates the Thunder.
Michael Wilbon talking about KD: “Now, a few years ago I remember talking to Kevin Durant. And at that time, as a young man, coming home was daunting to him, and it should be. Because the demands in greater Washington D.C. on Kevin Durant, they are enormous. And it will be to be a savior of basketball here. He grew up watching the Bullets and Wizards. He is now old enough and mature enough, I think — and I believe he feels this way too — to entertain that notion. If the Wizards come to get him, he’s ready. But this is a dilemma. He loves Oklahoma City, but he also loves his hometown.”
Berry Tramel: “Thunder fans have done their part. Downtown OKC is a fun place to play. There are no dreary nights. Not when the Hornets were here. Not when the Durant’s first Thunder team started 3-29 and finished 23-59. And not now that the Spidermen are constant contenders. OKC has embraced Durant and he’s embraced back. Parting would be sour sorrow, and the fans have made Durant realize it. Doesn’t mean he won’t go, but it means it won’t be easy. There are no stones to throw. Durant’s got a great situation in OKC. Great team, great organization, great contract, great support. That’s all anyone can ask for. So enjoy the next two seasons. Worrying about it, sweating over it, just takes away from the thrill of having Durant here in the first place. And when decision summer comes, que sera sera.”