Monday Bolts: Break up the Thunder Edition

Four out of five folks. Four. Out of five. Remember that whole “worst team ever” talk? Good times.

SLAM is looking for a nickname for KD. I thought we all kind settled on Durantula or Kid Declious: “We asked Kevin thunderbolt236Durant himself if he has any nicknames, and all he could come up with is “KSmoove.” It’s absurdities like that which got us into the nickname business in the first place. Here’s a player with as much pure offensive talent as anyone to come into the League this millennium, as he showed most recently in the Rookie-Sophomore Game. Obviously, this guy needs a nickname that honors his abilities—and he’s on record as asking us for one. Kevin needs your help. Whoever has the best nickname will win a dope prize from the SLAM vault and get their name in Trash Talk next month.”

FanHouse doing lines: “Philadelphia shot below 40% … against the Thunder. OKC’s locksmith line-up — Kyle Weaver, Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha — conspired to wreck the 76er attack, and Sefolosha is looking like he just might be the best player traded near the deadline this season.”

The Scores Report put together the top 68 worst contracts in the NBA. OKC had just one (Nick Collison who hecked in at No. 33 in the “Overpaid Role Players” category: “In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)”

As Joe mentioned in his recap, Malik Rose was on NBA TV’s arena link and had some pretty interested things to say. Man I like that guy. I kind of want him back next year.

Basketbawful worst of the weekend: “Philadelphia 76ers: The world has been flipped on its ear. Night has become day. Black has become white. Tastes great has become less filling. The hot side has become cool, and the cool side has become hot. And admist all this chaos, the Oklahoma City Thunder have become unbeatable. They’ve won four of five despite the continuing absence of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. They’re just the team’s two leading scorers. No big. Meanwhile, the Sixers are reeling. They’ve lost seven of 10 games since the All-Star break, and they looked like a special needs team in Oklahoma City. Their shooting eye must have had a detatched retina (39 percent) and their fingers were covered with Teflon (21 turnovers to only 9 assists). Furthermore, the Sixers got held to their second-lowest scoring total of the season (74). And that just so happened to be the fewest points allowed by the Thunder all season. Their run and fun has become shuffle and moan.”

Marc Stein’s power rankings: “Only one problem with all slobbering here and elsewhere about the Durant we saw last month: OKC is 4-1 without him, after going 3-9 in February, having held the opposition to 92 points or fewer in all four Ws.”

BDL Behind the Box Score: “Oklahoma City really came through with a strong defensive effort, this team knows what it has to do in Kevin Durant and Jeff Green’s absence, it made a point to pack the lane defensively, and to move toward the lane itself offensively. Very impressive run from this crew, Scotty Brooks is doing a hell of a job. And Malik Rose (14 points, seven rebounds, three turnovers, two steals) continues to play tremendous basketball for the Thunder. We didn’t even think of him as a possible buyout candidate because no team, seemingly, would sign him up for the playoff stretch. And yet, he’s played the best ball of any of the guys who were cut and signed after the trade deadline. Good on him.”

From Elias: “Kevin Durant averaged 30.6 points per game in February, when the Thunder lost nine of 12 games. But with Durant sidelined with a sprained ankle, Oklahoma City has posted a 4-1 record, including Sunday’s 89-74 win over the 76ers, and that score suggests the reason: The Thunder allowed an average of 104.8 points per 48 minutes with Durant on the floor, 9.0 points more than their average without him (95.8 per 48).”

Sean Deveney talking 2009 Draft: “No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona. The Thunder are a big man away from completing a pretty fearsome young starting five, and Hill would be an ideal fit. Hill has had the breakout year that scouts were expecting, averaging 18.4 points and 11.1 rebounds. He can hit the boards, block shots and score when needed, the kind of guy Oklahoma City needs.”

Darnell Mayberry has a feeling Jeff Green will be back against Sacto: “In other injury-related news, Jeff Green (sore back) is starting to look better and he could be upgraded to probable for Tuesday’s game at Sacramento. He was joking around and horse-playing with teammates before tonight’s game, showing no signs of having an injured back. My guess is he returns to the lineup against the Kings.”

And fan voting for the Ultimate Fan contest is open on the team website. Tough choice there because I really like Thunderhead and Brick Man, but I went with Zorgon. Vote for him. Do it: “I may not have the most creative costume, and I am indeed the ugliest contestant out there, but I put as much energy and passion I can into my cheering every single night. I never cuss, and always try to create a positive atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy. If someone else wins, then C’est La Vie, but I’d really, really, really, really love to win. If you vote for me and say so, I can give you a personal message about how awesome you are. Or something. Anyway, thanks a lot to those who vote for me!”

Vega
2009-03-09 12:21:14
I don't know about Jordan Hill. He's 6'9, so he sure as heck isn't tall enough to play center, and one thing the Thunder don't need is another power forward. Monroe or Harden would be ideal.
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-09 12:22:44
We have so many inbetweeners as it is, that I wouldn't mind seeing a pure position player like Rubio or Thabeet on the squad.
joey
2009-03-09 11:15:49
I say "Kardiac" for Durant's nickname. He's clutch, cold-blooded and causes numerous defensive palpitations.
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-09 11:31:52
SI took some time to mention RW in this week's power rankings. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/chris_mannix/03/09/power.rankings/index.html <i>Not much movement at the top of the rankings this week, so let's instead use this space to take a closer look at one of the more intriguing young talents in the NBA: Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook. Here's what we know about Westbrook: He's a freakish athlete with explosive scoring ability (15.8 points per game) and the kind of defensive mentality that may eventually earn him a spot on one of the league's All-Defense teams. He's also a big reason why the Thunder just completed a 3-1 week (despite the absences of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green) and are 13-17 since Jan. 6. Here's what we don't know about Westbrook: At what position is he best suited? Is it point guard? At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Westbrook has the potential to be a bullying playmaker. He's got a strong first step, and though he won't be confused with Steve Nash anytime soon, the Thunder feel his drive-and-kick skills create enough opportunities for teammates. His jump shot is suspect, but Oklahoma City is convinced that it will develop in time. But Westbrook's assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55 to 1) is abysmal and his shoot-first mind-set has some NBA scouts thinking that he's a better fit at shooting guard. The Thunder plan to be patient and allow Westbrook, 20, time to develop at the point alongside Durant, 20, and the 22-year-old Green. But with two first-round picks in the June draft, it's also unlikely Oklahoma City will pass on a highly rated point guard (Ricky Rubio?) just because Westbrook is on the roster.</i>
Vega
2009-03-09 12:52:02
Drafting Thabeet is a major risk in my book. I'm not sure how he is going to translate in the NBA. He could be either Tyson Chandler, DeSagana Diop, or Mo Sene, and, personally, I think he is a taller DeSagana Diop. I sure wouldn't use a top five pick to draft him.
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-09 13:04:12
I'm definitely no NBA talent scout, but 7'3'' is hard to come by. Of course, I'm also the guy that saw Kyle Weaver play 26 total minutes in our first 15 games and thought he belonged in the D-League. Dreamweaver has REALLY come along well this year. If this year's rookies and mid-season acquisitions are any indication of Presti's genius (or good fortune), I think Sam could draft Bryan Reeves and he'd be a 20-10 guy by next year's All-Star break.
John
2009-03-09 13:14:39
Yeah, Hill is pretty good, but I'm not sure he's better or anything different than what the Thunder already have. He is a good defender and an athletic forward / center, but is definitely small to be going up against the centers of the NBA. I think he's going to be a successful NBA player but I'm not sure he's any better than Green. I kind of feel the same way about Harden - he's basically the same player as Westbrook, maybe a more reliable J (but not much), a little bigger, a little slower, about the same defense, better at getting free throws but that's about it. I like the prospect of Rubio or Thabeet as well, Jax.
Steve H
2009-03-09 14:41:42
Has anybody heard whether Westbrook was injured last night? He was wearing some kind of wraps on his calves- at least in the second half, and I swear I watched him limping during a second half stoppage in play. I assumed he wasn't on the court at the end due to injury, but I haven't seen or heard anything about it.
Royce
2009-03-09 14:57:10
<a href="#comment-3206" rel="nofollow">@Steve H</a> No he's fine. He's been wearing those pads the past few weeks and it's something a lot of guys wear. And the play he was limping was late in the game when he and Thabo went up for that oop together and Russell stepped on Thabo's foot, but he's fine.
Steve H
2009-03-09 15:09:28
Thanks-Good to hear. I don't mind non-serious injuries much at this point in our season, but I would really like to see Russell get ROY.<a href="#comment-3207" rel="nofollow">@Royce </a>
Vega
2009-03-09 15:52:08
I was really in to Harden at the start of the year, but seeing how Weaver and Thabo have been playing, plus the possibility of having a fully healthy Shaun Livingston on the roster, that has led me to decide that Greg Monroe is the best choice. He's 6'11, so he can probably play center. Hopefully, he could be that tough center that Krispy isn't.
Joe
2009-03-09 17:17:11
I've been notoriously bad at selecting college to pro successes, and I readily admit I am wrong as much as I am right, but I wasn't very high on Thabeet either, but really, after watching him, he can definitely play. He's no Mo Sene. He knows how to protect the basket and he plays Defense. Sene didn't know which end of the court was which. I don't like him top five though, but this isn't really a very deep draft. Hill reminds me a lot of Chris Wilcox.....I think he would be redundant with a first already used on DJ White. This is just a tough draft. I hear that Washington is in such a state of salary cap hell, that they will be looking to trade their draft pick.
Butchelor
2009-03-09 17:31:22
Earl Watson is also on the list of the 68 worst contracts,,, # 27
Royce
2009-03-09 18:07:37
<a href="#comment-3214" rel="nofollow">@Butchelor</a> Ah, I must've subconsciously blocked him from my brain. Thanks.
Vega
2009-03-09 18:15:07
At least Earl is expiring. The Thunder should be able to find some idiot GM who will take him in the offseason.
Vega
2009-03-09 18:15:40
I meant that Earl is expiring next year.
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-10 07:08:39
<a href="#comment-3218" rel="nofollow">@Vega</a> Or, more likely, you meant that Earl's contract is expiring next year. ;)
okcnba
2009-03-10 08:19:40
<a href="#comment-3213" rel="nofollow">@Joe </a> Thabeet looks more like Samuel Dalembert the sequal.
Crow
2009-03-10 12:20:29
I don't know much about him other than his stats and write-ups but I hear Hill is long and it sounds like he could play 50-50 PF / C or lean either way as needed. Hill reminds me of Wilcox too but longer and more active. I just don't see anybody better at 3rd or 4th.