- Enes Kanter
- ESPN ranking OKC 5th in the West
- Who is out of the rotation in OKC?
- Andre Roberson’s role
- Kevin Durant’s health
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Berry Tramel: “The NBA is expected to approve for the 2015-16 season a playoff format by which teams are seeded 1-8 strictly on record, regardless of divisions. But teams still are being scheduled with divisions. Every team plays a fellow division member four times, teams in the other conference twice each and teams in its own conference but not in its division three or four times. Which means the Thunder should have an easier schedule than most of its fellow Western Conference contenders. The Northwest Division of OKC, Utah, Denver, Portland and Minnesota figures to have three rumdums — the Nuggets, Blazers and Timberwolves — plus the Thunder and Jazz. With Utah not expected to be one of the premier six teams in the West.”
Richard Johnson of the New York Post: “Friends of former NBA Commissioner David Stern are urging him to run for mayor in 2017, now that Mayor de Blasio is looking less likely to be re-elected to a second term. Stern, a lifelong Democrat who has regularly contributed to the party, will be retired for two years in February. ‘He’s pretty bored,’ said one source. ‘He’s always been interested in politics, and he’s always been interested in running for office.'” Keep Reading…
David Aldridge of NBA.com: “Durant and Westbrook can score on anyone, but they need more consistent help from their teammates to make things a little tougher on opposing defenses. To that end, the Thunder maxed out Kanter, a low-post beast who has to do much more defensively to warrant OKC’s investment in him. The Thunder’s hope is that Serge Ibaka recovers from injuries and returns to his shot-blocking, active defensive ways to supplement (cover up?) Kanter’s D. But OKC’s only task for the next 12 months is to make Durant as happy as possible. Nothing else matters. His relationship with Donovan will be among the most analyzed in modern times.”
From AL.com, trying to figure out how much Alabama is still paying Anthony Grant: “Without new employment offsetting his payments, monthly checks from Alabama would total $83,333.333. Grant’s new salary with the Thunder can’t be easily figured without knowing other sources of income that would offset the UA payments. If the difference was $16,666 a month, it would make the annual salary in Oklahoma City in the $800,000 range― the very high end of NBA assistant paychecks.” Keep Reading…
ESPN.com’s Summer Forecast is rolling along and today, it’s the Western Conference. Coming off a disappointing injury-filled 45-win season in 2014-15, the Thunder seem to be a bit overlooked right now.
The Thunder are pegged to win 55 games and finish fifth in the West, behind the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers and Rockets.
(If you’re unfamiliar with how ESPN Forecast works, it’s basically a big panel of people all voting, with an averaged score.)
Of note: When Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are healthy, the Thunder win some 71 percent of the time. That’s 58-ish wins. There are certainly some questions and potential issues the team will have to sort through this season, but if it’s me, I’m taking the over on the forecast’s number.
The league put out its top 100 plays of the 2014-15 season. I’m kind of surprised it’s not just 100 Russell Westbrook plays, but whatever.
Mark Deeks for NBA.com: “I am an Englishman, born and raised in a country that basically does not have basketball in any substantive form. Basketball here is a widely played game amongst inner city youth, but a jarring lack of facilities, a semi-professional domestic league, a lack of history and inexplicably little media coverage make it an afterthought sport roughly equal in stature to lamenting the fall of the empire. Rolling cheese down a hill gets more media coverage in my country than basketball does.”
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on the Raptors re-signing Valanciunas: “The Valanciunas deal doesn’t eliminate the Kevin Durant chase, but it does lessen their chances and limit their options in such a pursuit. That’s a good thing. Chasing the pipe dream of Durant isn’t worth risking your long-term goals and development. The Raptors believe in Valanciunas and got him back at a decent rate. That’s a win for them, no matter what happens with Durant.” Keep Reading…
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on rebuilding: “If the Bucks suffered a similar drop-off like the Hornets did, all the optimism about what they’ve done is gone and they’re just another team with some good pieces but nothing they can really count on. The Thunder knew after drafting Kevin Durant that if he was healthy, they could be a contender. The Spurs knew it with Tim Duncan. Those transcendent players remain the difference between good teams and great teams. The key to all this is that you have to keep your options open.”
Mike Gallagher of Rotoworld: “Westbrook is now entering his prime at 26 years old, so are we still going to get the same KD? I think so. In fact, KD made 80.0 percent of his field goal attempts at the rim with Westy on the court and he was assisted on 61.0 percent of those (per NBA Wowy). Overall, Durant’s true shooting percentage was 1.7 points higher with Westy, and probably the most noteworthy split is KD taking and making more 3-pointers with Westy. For fantasy, we like open 3-pointers, especially from KD. Probably one of the craziest stats in this whole column is this one: KD made 55.6 percent of his “wide open” 3-point attempts last season. For reference, Stephen Curry made only 47.0 percent. KD is some kind of shooter. Heck, he even made 43.1 percent of his 3-point attempts with “tight” defense (defender 2-4 feet away).” Keep Reading…