In the last 25 seasons, how many second year players in the NBA have averaged at least 25 points per game?
We’ve got something special going on with the young fella.
In the last 25 seasons, how many second year players in the NBA have averaged at least 25 points per game?
We’ve got something special going on with the young fella.
Oklahoma City didn’t have anyone in the game last night. And though we all know Kevin Durant deserved to be there, it kind of didn’t matter. After KD dropped 46 in the Rookie Challenge along with Uncle Jeff Green throwing down multiple dunking slam jams and Russell Westbrook flying around the hardwood and then KD winning HORSE, for a moment, OKC was the center of the basketball universe. For just a second, we knew what it felt like to be the Lakers or the Celtics. Every story coming out of Phoenix was about Durant or the young Thunder trio. We were the talk of the town and let me tell you, that felt good. It gave a tiny view of what it could be like in three years if this plan happens to come to fruition. But even though there wasn’t somebody playing in the big game, this All-Star weekend was a smashing success for OKC. Anyway, on to some All-Star weekend Bolts…
Tom Ziller on KD’s big weekend: “Durant scored 46 points, breaking the record by 10. He had a littany of extraordinary moves, leaving teammate (and trash-talker) Russell Westbrook in a cloud of dust time after time. He even played a little defense to help the sophs pull out a victory, ignoring the legend that playing defense in the Rookie Challenge is like walking under a ladder. And as many have noted in the aftermath, Durant has been doing this since New Year’s Day. No one in the league is scoring more per game since January 1. K.D. is doing it efficiently, with an inventory of rebounds, blocks, steals and assists, as well. That Durant sits on the sidelines while someone like David West (a solid player, but a winner) made the Main Event … that says more about the coaches than it does Durant. There is an unfortunate pecking order, with youth and losing pushing stars like K.D. and Al Jefferson (R.I.P.) down the list. But Durant started a fire Friday, I suspect he’ll stoke it tonight during H-O-R-S-E, and the whole world will see the smoke next February.”
John Hollinger: “The feeling was mutual. Tonight’s game was a coming-out party for the Thunder’s entire rebuilding program as much as it was for Durant. They don’t see much daylight outside their pint-sized market thanks to a brutally awful start, but they’re quietly playing decent basketball of late behind their three young stars. The public has been a little slow on the uptake regarding the rapid ascent of each, with Durant getting little All-Star attention and Westbrook a nonentity in most Rookie of the Year discussions, but this, perhaps, will get a few people’s attention. Westbrook soared and finished at the basket, and created havoc on D, while Green showcased his vastly improved jumper at several key moments. And then there was Durant. He soared in for flying dunks over the rookies’ bigs, and then stepped outside and effortlessly rained in long J’s, showing the total package that seemingly has the 20-year-old forward (yes, he’s just 20) headed for a scoring title in the very near future.”
Latest trade talk from around the league has OKC talking with NOLA: “Our freshest non-Amare scenario: Sources say Oklahoma City is going after New Orleans center Tyson Chandler, with the Hornets known to be seriously interested in slicing payroll and with the Thunder capable of offering the Hornets two replacement big men with expiring contracts (Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox) as well as one of its five first-round picks in the next two drafts. You’d like to think that the Hornets would first try to get through this season, see how far they go in the postseason and then shop Chandler closer to the draft if moving him remains their best money-saving option, since trading its interior defensive anchor — in spite of Chandler’s struggles this season — would force us to reevaluate New Orleans’ status as a contender. Yet it remains to be seen if the Hornets can pass up such a payroll-friendly proposal. Word is he remains very much available if the right deal presents itself.” Keep Reading…
You don’t mess with the Durantula.
He spotted O.J. Mayo and Joe Johnson four letters, but it didn’t matter. It was only a matter of time before he heated up because as Durant called it, he’s a slow roaster.
Durant started 1-8 from the field which included embarrassing misses like throwing it OVER the backboard and looking like he didn’t know he had a left hand until this morning as he hit the bottom of the backboard with a between-the-legs lefty layup. Kenny Smith said KD’s left hand “is wack.” But once he got going, he got going.
Kind of like last night, he hit trey after trey including a 45-foot heave and eventually beat Mayo head-to-head. I think he hit something like seven of his last eight shots. After the slow start you could see KD had a little frustration on his face. He hates losing (I know, I know, OKC is 13-40… har har) and he definitely hates looking bad doing it. He wasn’t going to lose. That bodes well for our future.
Best moment was OJ knocking down a one-handed Uncle Jeff three and then Joe Johnson – with his life on the line – followed it. Of course, we all thought KD had no prayer as he had H-O-R-S (I refuse to write G-E-I-C-O. Crap. I just did). But the Durantula followed it with a swish. Then Mayo knocked out Johnson with a granny shot and it put KD in the final two.
I think H-O-R-S-E was a success. It’s really fun to watch professional players in a casual element talking and joking with each other and having trouble with shots that you and I used to try. The players tried creative shots (like Mayo’s knock-down from the stands), but didn’t get carried away. They hit shots and put the other guy on the spot.
And let me tell you, Kevin Durant is rapidly ascending into Adrian Peterson/Sam Bradford/Bob Stoops territory for me. I am really beginning to love that guy. Not just your typical “Oh yeah, he’s awesome!” type thing but where you’d strongly consider diving into a pool of sharks to save him. He’s such a laid back, humble guy (much like AD and Sammy), but he’s so good at what he does (much like AD and Sammy). Now, he’s not in that pantheon yet, but he’s getting there. Keep in mind that we’ve only had half a season with him. Imagine five years from now with multiple All-Star appearances, maybe a scoring title, maybe an MVP and a couple of playoff runs. Yeah, I think he’ll be up there. Maybe even at the top – well, nobody tops AD. Yet.
One site note about this whole thing: As an Oklahoman, this is seriously surreal. Getting to see our young core of players run around and show their talent and having national media talk about them and how bright our future is. This whole weekend has just been so fun. And we don’t even have anyone in the big game. I can’t tell you how weird (in the most awesome way possible) it is to see an NBA player walking around on national television with a warmup that says “Oklahoma City” on it. That is just… incredible.
All in all, that was fun and it was nice to see KD lift his second trophy in as many days. Even if it looked like a seventh grade science project. (A Barbie horse in a shoebox? Come on GEICO.)
Alright, stop right there. Don’t proceed any further unless you’ve already made your significant other some heart shaped pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Ok, done? Good, proceed with the Bolts:
The depth of this year’s rookie class makes this a wide-open field, and I realize my order looks entirely different than conventional wisdom, which has Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo as the favorites. Neither would be a bad pick; I just happen to like these guys (and maybe even Greg Oden) a little better. Nobody has been more efficient while playing a major role for his team than Westbrook, who has been a revelation for the Thunder. Westbrook’s unconventional game makes it easy to pick at his flaws (limited shooting range and questions about his ability to run the point), but he contributes in so many ways that he has still been very valuable. Westbrook is a lot like Rajon Rondo in this regard…….there’s more, including a certain number 35.
Jeff Green: In the spirit of Kermit Washington, we salute you.
Who doesn’t love the Rookie Challenge, huh? Well, probably lots of people and I can guarantee I probably wouldn’t be watching if it weren’t for one-fourth of the Thunder roster participating. I’d likely be at Harkins getting ready to see Friday the 13th and being super pissed at my buddy Andy for making me see it with him. I think this will be better. But I can’t guarantee that.
7:51 p.m. CST: What is the draw of the celebrity basketball game? Seriously, someone help me here. It’s basically just two hours of total awkwardness. Unathletic people playing against old former players that run like they should be in a Saturday morning church league. Then someone airballs, throws his arms up making a face, does a little dance and everybody fake laughs hysterically. It’s awful. And yet I am watching… (sigh)
8:07: Here’s our opening with Dwayne Wade dressed like Urkel, actually looking more like Stefan Urquelle. Him and Dwight Howard are the assistant coaches and evidently the MCs for the starting lineups. Are there like 2,000 high school girls in the arena or is that a girlish yell track they are playing for everyone? What’s the deal with the high pitched screaming? And Howard gave Kevin Durant extra special treatment with a “You know who he is… KEVINNNN DUUUUURRRRANNNNTTTT!!!!!” Thanks Dwight. I’m sure Jeff Green appreciated the, “Oh, also from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Green.” Don’t worry, he’s used to it.
8:11: Our announcers are Kevin “NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE!” Harlan, LeBron James and Kenny Smith. LeBron tells us that KD’s natural position is the two-guard because Jeff Green is playing the three. Either Bron didn’t get the news that P.J. Carlesimo got canned or didn’t realize Durant was guarding him the last time they played. Whatever. Keep Reading…
Seems like everybody is in on the Amare Stoudemire trade talk. Heck, even the Yankees are trying to make a deal for him. Some have tossed Oklahoma City into that mix, most saying it would be a combination of either Chris Wilcox or Joe Smith with Jeff Green and a couple draft picks.
Deal or no deal? A four-time All-Star that’s just 26 years old and has averaged 21-10, 25-9 and 21-8 the past three seasons. A guy that is an elite, established power forward in the league that could potentially take Oklahoma City from building to possibly built. Hit the red button right?
Look, Amare could totally flip the Thunder around in a heart beat. We know that. He’s an elite player that teams have to game plan for and he would most definitely open up the world for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. A lineup of Westbrook, Weaver, Durant, Stoudemire and Collison/Krstic doesn’t look bad at all. It’s looks pretty stinking good. But I don’t like it and I have reasons. Keep Reading…
Holy crap it’s Friday the 13th and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. That means something, right? Right? Tonight we’ve got the always lackluster incredible Rookie/Sophomore game. And with basically the entire Thunder roster playing, I figured I’d bust out a good ol’ live running diary of the game (tip is at 8 p.m.). Should be awesome. I know you’re all super excited.
UPDATE: David Thorpe has a preview of tonight’s Rook/Sophomore game: “In this year’s rookie-sophomore game, the sophs have, by far, the best player on the floor, Kevin Durant. They also have the oldest and most experienced pro, Luis Scola, and five players with real playoff experience. But the rookies have everything else. Their roster is deeper, their bigs are bigger, their guards are better on offense and defense, and their confidence is sky-high. This rookie class is one of the best we’ve ever seen. And considering how the rookies typically get blown out in these contests, we can presume this team will be on a mission, too. Still, the sophs will no doubt play with pride. And they have the advantage of experience and the knowledge that this is a game they are expected to win — so I wouldn’t expect them to roll over and allow dunk after dunk. If the sophs lock in for most of the game, we should be looking at the best rookie-sophomore game ever played.”
Kevin Durant wants to guard Russell Westbrook. That should end well: “Kevin Durant plans to politick Orlando star Dwight Howard, who will be an assistant coach for the sophomore team tonight in the rookie-sophomore game that’s part of All-Star weekend in Phoenix. “I’m going to tell him I want to guard Russ the whole game,” Durant said. “You might see a show.”
Nothing is moving right now in Seattle: “If momentum doesn’t start building soon in Roy’s hometown, his basketball career could be finished by the time the professional game revisits one of its past homes. Despite a $30 million incentive on the table, and with more NBA teams facing financial hardship and looking for softer landing spots, the chances of professional basketball returning to Seattle appear slim. After the backroom negotiations between the city of Seattle and the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder, chaired by Clay Bennett, that led to the departure of the SuperSonics for the Midwest last summer, apathy has become the overwhelming emotion among the general sports population in Seattle. The apparent consensus: If money gets approved for a renovation of KeyArena and Seattle eventually lands a new team, great. If not, oh well.”
Hoops Addict on the Melo/KD “best in the West” debate: “However, the best small forward in the Western Conference might be Kevin Durant. Yes, he plays on a bad Oklahoma City team, and you can argue his numbers are inflated as such. I strongly disagree – Durant has very clearly taken his game to another level since Scott Brooks took over as the head coach and he is now a premier NBA talent, well ahead of schedule. Durant has been the most efficient small forward with a PER of 20.5, and his statistical line is awe-inducing for a 20-year old.” Keep Reading…
T-minus two days until V-Day. No, I haven’t gotten anything yet. Maybe this? How about that for a tie-in?
J.A. Adande on KD: “To get burned into more memory banks, his team will have to win more, enough to get into the playoffs, enough to earn him consideration for the All-Star Game … unless he starts putting up numbers so large he has to be chosen. He’ll be in the rookie-sophomore game and the new H-O-R-S-E contest, something which he hasn’t had any time to practice for. He’s been working so much on shooting good shots that his trick-shot arsenal is limited.”
Bill Simmons annual awesome trade value column. Kevin Durant falls in the “It Makes Us Angry You’d Even Ask” category: “Put it this way: I had a lot to do this week. I am trying to finish a book. I had to finish this column. My wife and daughter returned from a trip late Monday night and I wanted to see them. I am flying to Phoenix on Thursday and had to take care of all the dumb stuff people have when they are about to leave for a trip. On Tuesday night, under normal circumstances, I would have rather given myself a two-foot paper cut over going to the Staples Center and spending three hours with Lakers fans. I went there anyway. Only three teams would have dragged me out of the house: The LeBrons, the Celts, and Durant’s Future Former Team. That’s the list … Jeff Green: Great teammate, tough as nails, gives a crap, does whatever you need. He’s the anti-Beasley. What frightens me is that The Team That Shall Not Be Named somehow has become my favorite non-Boston team to watch. Love the Durant-Green-Westbrook foundation, love Scotty Brooks (who knew???), love the spirit of their crowds, love their style of play (attack off every miss, which is exactly how the Bulls should play). It continues to be cruel and unfair that this couldn’t have happened in Seattle … Russell Westbrook: The rookie MVP of the Table Team for guys who bring a ton of stuff to the table, but also take a fair share of stuff off it … but still, he wins you over in the end. I like him. He is definitely not a point guard. This much we know. I’d like to be the chairman of the “Is He A Point Guard Or Not?” Committee. I have a rare talent for quickly spotting breast implants, dentures, bad toupees and shooting guards masquerading as point guards.”
Josh Q. Public on Kevin Durant: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to Thunder fans and NBA fans alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of basketball player. The torch has been passed to Kevin Durant. Enjoy it. You are enjoying history.” Keep Reading…