Here it is:
The league’s YouTube channel has spoken. Here are the Thunder’s OFFICIAL top 10 plays from last season.
Ben Golliver of SI.com: “This decree was more evidence that his time off, however regrettable, has been put to good use. Not only does his energy appear to back, Durant sounds prepared for what could be the wildest 12 months of a career that’s already produced a Finals trip, multiple gold medals, and too many individual accolades to count. Even on the coaching subject, a touchy one for so long, Durant had his ducks in a row, stressing the importance of “building the chemistry” with Donovan and welcoming the leadership responsibility during the transition process after seven seasons under Brooks.”
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “It’s the calm before all hell breaks loose for Durant, and by all indications, he’s enjoying it. All he’ll do here in Vegas is put up a few shots, go to a couple of meetings and try to leave the impression with USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski that he’s committed for the 2016 Olympics in Rio after bowing out last year. He compared being back on the floor with the game’s biggest stars to “Christmas as a kid.” Keep Reading…
Kevin Durant was back on the floor today in Las Vegas going through practice drills with Team USA — which included a lot of work with new assistant Monty Williams. He’s not completely cleared to play in terms of 5-on-5 contact, but he says he’s basically 100 percent and is feeling confident, excited and ready for the season.
Here’s a transcript of his post practice media availability (questions paraphrased, and also hat tip to good buddy Marc Stein for the audio): Keep Reading…
NumberFire on the Northwest: “The only movement out of Oklahoma City this summer was their giving up on projects Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III, who they traded to Charlotte and Boston, respectively. Of course, the Thunder hope to be welcoming back a healthy Kevin Durant this year (whose last healthy season in 2013-14 yielded a league-leading 27.0 nERD and an MVP trophy), so they’ll probably be ok. Especially seeing as how they made their most important acquisitions at the trade deadline this past season when they picked up Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin, and Kyle Singler. With Kanter and Singler re-upped, we’re about to see — once and for all — if this iteration of the Thunder can win a championship before Durant hits free agency in the summer of 2016.”
Really great stuff on Enes Kanter from Andrew Schlecht for Vantage Sports: ”What if Kanter is more of a Zach Randolph-type player than anything else? There is only one category in which they are not similar and that is passing, and we saw Enes has some room to grow and showed that to a small degree. Randolph is a unique player and perhaps comparing these two may not be all that smart, but you cannot deny the similarity. Kanter is still only 23 years old and has room for improvement. He is also on a team that prides itself in player development and has developed four max players since 2007. Many would argue that Durant would have been no matter what, and they are correct. But there is an argument to be made about Westbrook, Harden, and certainly Reggie Jackson. Do not ignore Serge Ibaka either. If he hit the open market this summer, he would demand a max contract as well. Kanter does not yet deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the players mentioned above, but we do know he is in the right place to make an improvement and show he is worth that money.” Keep Reading…
Some news: Kevin Durant has been cleared for non-contact drills and will participate in the practice portions of USA Basketball’s mini-camp in Las Vegas this week. He won’t, however, play in the showcase game on Aug. 13.
“Kevin has been incredibly disciplined in his return to play protocol and he’s now at the stage where he can participate in non-contact drill work,” Sam Presti said. “We are excited he is at the point where can take part in portions of the mini-camp, as he has demonstrated great focus throughout his recovery efforts.”
Russell Westbrook was also named to the 34-man roster and is expected to be in attendance at the camp.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy.
It will (likely) be Kevin Durant’s first game back after missing the final 28 last season following foot surgery, as well as Billy Donovan’s debut as the Thunder’s coach. It will put the deepened Thunder against the retooled Spurs, in a game that could preview bigger things come playoff time.
The Thunder are also expected to host a Christmas Day game, and will be welcoming Reggie Jackson back to OKC a week after Thanksgiving.
The full schedule is set to be released this week.
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider has OKC third in the West: “The Thunder have built a nice collection of role players to support their high-power Big 3, and no team features a one-two punch like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. However, the metrics of many of those supporting players don’t shine. Oklahoma City needs heightened efficiency from the likes of Steven Adams, Dion Waiters and Kyle Singler. If healthy, Oklahoma City has the star power to win it all. It’ll be up to the non-stars to make it happen.”
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider puts OKC in Tier 2 of the West: “After injuries spoiled the Thunder’s 2014-15 campaign, they should be back near the top of the Western Conference this season. The question is whether Oklahoma City’s supporting cast is strong enough to support a healthy group of stars. The Thunder are short on two-way role players, with newcomers Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters failing to qualify because of their shortcomings in defense and efficient scoring, respectively.” Keep Reading…