Men: Don’t forget the Slam Dunk Competition Valentine’s Day is just, uh, let’s see… five days away. And no, don’t email me asking for ideas. Because I don’t have any either.
UPDATE: Marc Stein’s Power Rankings are out and OKC is this week’s biggest mover, all the way up to No. 21: “Leave it to us to spoil the moment and fixate on the downside of OKC’s 9-9 record — with six of those losses by four points or less — in 2009: Winning the rights to Blake Griffin in the lottery gets tougher with every W.”
The Root on Kevin Durant: “Pardon the cliché; but change has come to Durant’s game. It arrived around the time that final appointees for cabinet positions were announced. In December, Durant mounted an impressive stat line: 25.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 6.5 free throw attempts per game while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from behind the arc. Then in January, he showed it was no fluke, notching 27.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 8.7 free throw attempts per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor and 39.6 percent from deep.”
BDL Behind the Box Score: “LeBron might be the league’s greatest offensive force, Dwyane Wade may have led the league in scoring for most of the year, and Kobe Bryant’s always a bad room service experience away from dropping 57 on you, but I’d be awfully surprised if Kevin Durant didn’t lead the league in scoring in 2010-11. I wouldn’t even mind putting money on him to lead the NBA in points per game next season. No weirdness or exaggeration. Just watch. At this rate, the kid is going to be right there. 39 jaw-dropping points for Durant on Sunday (OK, the four free throws he hit didn’t make my face go all funny, but the other 35 were crazy-hep), and it’s safe to note that this guy absolutely has it. I don’t care that it came against Sacramento, the league’s worst defense. Not interested. Durant is just as pure as they come. The next 17 years are going to be fun as hell.”
Sactown Royalty’s reaction: “When you don’t overcommit, you stand the risk of not really committing. This wasn’t so much a problem against OKC because no team in the league takes fewer threes than the Thunder. But it’s been a problem all year, and the lack of catch-up speed/effort also affects interior rotations. Spencer Hawes commits on rotations, but that usually results in an And-1. Jason Thompson commits on rotations, but that usually results in two free throws. There’s never a back-up plan. If a guard overcommits on a shooter to deny the open three, the player can step in and get an open jumper … because no one is backing up the initial defender.”
Sacramento’s beat writer left the Ford Center with bells in her ears: “My head is still ringing. Oklahoma City fans are loud, even if Spencer Hawes doesn’t want to admit it. As I wrote about in Monday’s Bee, Hawes was quite outspoken about his disdain for the Seattle SuperSonics relocating to Oklahoma City. He called it a “travesty.” Keep Reading…