- The Thunder roster today vs. 2012
- Alien abductions
- Quick Trip
- …and preview the Southeast division
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Fran Blinebury of NBA.com on MVP: “We know Stephen Curry will run hot. We know LeBron James will boil over the edges of the pot. But there simply will not be another elite player in the league next season whose fire will burn as hot as Durant’s. Not after missing 55 games due to foot problems and surgery. Not after seeing his Thunder settle for just 45 wins. Not after sitting out the playoffs for the first time in his career. A healthy, rehabilitated K.D. is a driven, fearsome K.D., ready to re-engage as the most unstoppable offensive force in the league. On top of all that, it’s the season leading into Durant becoming the prize free agent in the summer of 2016. Not that he’s got to sell himself to anyone, but it never hurts to go onto the market as everybody’s most desired bauble. New coach Billy Donovan might bring in a few new tweaks to the attack. But nobody has to strike a match to light this fuse. Durant will be all-in from Day One to add a bookend to his 2014 MVP trophy.”
Via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Blake Griffin on what frustrates him with the media: “Untrue stories. I think the worst thing that’s happened to sports is ‘sources say.’ Sometimes it takes the credibility out of it. But it’s a part of it now, and I think guys are learning how to deal with it and learning how to stay out of harm’s way.” Keep Reading…
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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…