- Taking discounts
- Russell Westbrook’s wedding
- Serge Ibaka’s SI.com ranking
- Bank heists
- A preview of the Central Division
- …and what makes us miffed and peeved
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Tom Ziller of SB Nation is back on Waiters Island: “My belief that Waiters is a viable breakout candidate is based fully on what the basketball spirits whisper to me in my fever dreams, not what the data says. (Because the data says he is one of the least productive players in the NBA.) Waiters is 23, he’s been in a tough spot his entire career and he’ll finally have a chance to live in the shadows under a healthy Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Billy Donovan will find ways to make Waiters acceptable, and acceptance is the first step toward change. (That’s how it works, right?) Most importantly, Waiters — assuming the Thunder don’t give him an early extension — is in a contract year. Has there ever been a Contract Year Phenomenon like the one we could witness from young Mr. Waiters? Contract Year Phenomenon theorists are salivating at the process of this trial. Let’s get it, Dion.”
SI.com has Kevin Durant second in its top 100: “The NBA’s premier scorer was stuck playing defense in this year’s Top 100 discussion, thanks to three surgeries on his right foot in less than seven months and two rising superstars—Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry—turning in career years as he watched from the sidelines. Thunder forward Kevin Durant was no automatic write-in for the No. 2 spot on this year’s list, but he wound up holding steady for the third straight year. Four major factors influenced that decision: the quality of his play prior to his injury, his durability prior to last season, the Thunder’s rough go in his absence, and the sense that he enters 2015–16 reenergized and on track to be fully healthy.” Keep Reading…
Serge Ibaka checks in 25th in SI.com’s top 100: “NBA teams are often challenged in their pursuit of two traditionally competing interests: The space needed for an offense to flow smoothly and the size necessary to keep a defense consistent. Ibaka is an anomaly for the way his game merges both aims without compromise. Stretch bigs aren’t typically All-NBA defenders and first-rate shot blockers don’t generally have Ibaka’s shooting touch. In fact, Ibaka was the only player of his kind last season in terms of making three-pointers (1.2 per game) and blocking shots (5.8%). The closest three-point shooters blocked shots about half as often as Ibaka and no other high-level shot blocker made more than two three-pointers all season. Ibaka made 77.”
Michele Roberts in a Q&A with Sportando: “Sitting down at a table already now with the NBA to understand what worries the owners and what worries the players. In the past very few attempts to speak in advance of the problems that led to the lockouts have been made. Whether Both commissioner Silver and myself want to do everything possible to prevent the NBA to stop: the only way is to negotiate. We have already started, we will meet again in early September with the hope to announce within the end of the season that the union and the league have solved their problems. ” Keep Reading…
Amin Elhassan of ESPN Insider: “The Thunder also made a switch in the coaching department, where Billy Donovan attempts to make the jump from collegiate ranks to coaching grown men, and his ability to adjust to the pro game also will play a role. Finally, although the Thunder made their moves last February, injuries robbed them of the chance of building much on-court chemistry. Durant never played with the trade-deadline acquisitions of Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin (although he did play collegiately with Augustin), and Serge Ibaka appeared in only 10 games with them. New-ish teammates, new playbooks, injury recovery and the cloud of 2016 is a lot of uncertainty to take into account when talking about winning the West.”
Kurt Helin of PBT on the Heat as a Durant threat: “Miami will be a fascinating team this season — they could be the second best team in the East, they could be sixth, they are hard to read — but they are not ready to compete with Cleveland. They need more talent. Obviously, Durant would be that guy. Before the people from OKC start emailing/commenting, I’ll try to be clear once again — this does not mean Durant is going to the Heat, or even leaving the Thunder. It is just an example of how a number of teams — the Wizards, Lakers, Knicks, and the list goes on — are lining up to take a run at KD. That means some financial jockeying for some these squads.” Keep Reading…
Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Consider one example: Durant’s max salary for 2016-17 will be about $25 million, leaving $15 million or $20 million to split between Wade and Whiteside. That won’t do it, unless Wade takes a massive hometown discount. (By the way: Rail against the Durant rumor mill if you want, but you’re kidding yourselves if you don’t think Riley will set Miami up to make a run at him.)”
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider on the East favorite: “Come the postseason, when Irving should have had plenty of time to work off the rust no matter when he returns, Cleveland’s talent edge figures to be overwhelming. Remember, last season’s Cavaliers tied the best record en route to the NBA Finals (12-2) since the first round expanded to the best-of-seven format in 2003, and that was without Love for the final two series. Unless an unexpected rival rises from the second tier of East contenders, Cleveland might have an even easier path to the Finals this time around.” Keep Reading…
Amin Elhassan of ESPN Insider looking at KD contenders: “While OKC’s big three has remained intact, the supporting cast has arguably deteriorated over the years. Thunder general manager Sam Presti is one of the shrewdest leaders in the game, but 2014-15 was not a banner year in terms of management — from giving up a first-round pick for Dion Waiters at a time when his value couldn’t be lower, to matching a massive offer sheet to Enes Kanter despite his abysmal deficiencies that seem to make winning an event that happens in spite of his presence, not because of it. Throw in a new head coach in Billy Donovan who’s attempting to make the jump from college to the pros and Westbrook’s own impending free-agency saga (he’ll be unrestricted in 2017), and there’s at least some cause for concern for OKC’s future.”
Darnell Mayberry on Billy Donovan after his national titles: “The Gators went 206-83 in Donovan’s final eight seasons, recording seven 20-win seasons, four straight Elite Eight appearances and in 2014 a school record 36-3 mark and one last trip to the Final Four. In those final eight seasons, Donovan carried a different perspective. That empty feeling from all those years obsessed with chasing titles had changed him, matured him.” Keep Reading…
Saturday. Thank you for your support of Daily Thunder. Bubbles.
The NBA’s YouTube channel asks: Is Russell Westbrook the most explosive player in the NBA? Yeah, probably.
Also, cheers to Russ and his lovely wife-to-be for getting married this weekend in Los Angeles.