Wednesday Bolts – 2.25.09

Hardwood P Hot, Not or So Five Minutes Ago: “HOT – The Oklahoma City Thunder. SO Five Minutes Ago – The thunderbolt2316Atlanta Hawks. NOT -The Houston Rockets … HOT – Bragging that you said the Blazers should have taken Kevin Durant in 2007. SO Five Minutes Ago – Saying “Kevin Durant sucks.” NOT–”

Get on the OKC bandwagon now so that you can say you were on it when it wasn’t cool: “Now it is my pleasure to introduce you to the Oklahoma City Thunder and their bandwagon, which, trust me, has plenty of room for us all to hop on. Some of you might be wondering why I would talk to you about hopping on to the bandwagon of a team who is currently 13-43. My response to you would be that yes, usually the term hopping on the bandwagon refers to cheering for a team because they are winning. But this one is different, because people are going to hop on this team’s bandwagon regardless. Not only are they becoming one of the NBA’s most exciting teams to watch, but they are also on the verge of being a monster franchise within the next five years.”

Steve Aschburner on the value of Joe Smith: “Now, though, Smith has a chance for something better than a nice fit. He has made a great living, but he has a shot at a tremendous late-career transformation. Until last spring, Smith never had made it out of the first round of the playoffs, playing only 26 games in six trips across his first 12 seasons. Last year, he got to Game 7 of the second round with the Cavaliers. He could go further, perhaps much further, this time around, if only he would make noise and rock boats. But that’s not Joe Smith’s style, and it hasn’t been his career.”

HoopsWorld rookie rankings: “In the last two games, Westbrook has dropped averages of 25 points, 9.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds, showing once again that he’s going to be right there with Derrick Rose as the greatest point guard of this draft. The Thunder may not have done much in the win column this year, but give them time. Behind Westbrook and superstar-in-the-making Kevin Durant, they’ll be spectacular someday soon.”

BDL Behind the Box Score: “The Lakers are killing themselves over a supposed lack of defensive effort in this win, and though the Thunder came back a few times to make a game of this, that’s more the function of a should-be great offensive team trying to grow up and overcome it’s current inability to sustain efficient play for more than a few stretches at a time. For all the team’s potential, the Thunder is still one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, and Tuesday night’s production was even worse than its averages. About 99 points per 100 possessions, 41.8 shooting, and 17 percent of its possessions ended in turnovers. Lakers? Take it easy on yourselves.”

Kevin Durant to have his No. 35 retired in Austin tonight: “Slater Martin had to wait until age 83 to have his No. 15 jersey retired forever from Longhorns basketball. Tonight’s honoree, Kevin Durant, is receiving similar recognition at age 20. Durant’s No. 35, worn for one record-setting season at Texas in 2006-07, will be lifted to the rafters of the Erwin Center at halftime of the Longhorns’ game against Texas Tech. ”

Dime Mag on last night’s game: “Oklahoma City had pulled to within one point early in the fourth quarter with Kobe on the bench, but after Kobe checked back in, Scott Brooksdecided to use valuable minutes of a winnable game to get Weaver some first-hand experience against the biggest of the big dogs. But in hindsight, this was neither the time nor the place. Kobe took charge as L.A. scored on eight straight possessions, busting Weaver up in between finding teammates who were left open as the other OKC defenders got caught Kobe-watching. One time Kobe had the rookie Weaver posted up, got him in the air with a series of fakes, and after Weaver predictably landed on Kobe’s back, he tossed in a fadeaway, plus-one. Brooks eventually took Weaver out and stuck Thabo Sefalosha on Kobe to try and stop the bleeding, but it was too late.”

And you’ve got to love these two random notes from that same story: “Nenad Krstic’s bald spot makes a mockery of Manu and Mike Redd’s. Krstic has a “Red from That 70s Show” thing going that makes him look 15-20 years older than he is … After the Thunder announcers vented their incredulousness following a no-call on Green, the play-by-play guy said, “You know what I think I’m giving up for Lent? Whine. As in W-H-I-N-E.” Added the color commentator, “Yeah, I can’t remember the last time one of the referees came to our table and asked if they should overturn a call.” This sounds promising. If the OKC guys can start a League-wide movement among announcers and get Tommy Heinsohn and Sean Elliott on board, they should have a street named after them.” I’ve been trying to work Krispy’s follicle issues into something for two months now.

LakersBlog on last night’s game: “Between the 9:14 and 6:31 mark in the fourth, The Mamba notched ten points of his 36 total points, restoring a sense of order to the proceedings that was never again threatened. Derek Fisher hit a pair of “Seriously, we’re done screwing around” shots in the last few minutes for good measure, Luke Walton had a solid 11/5/4 and Oklahoma City managed just 42% from the field, reflective of how their mistakes (like, says, 16 turnovers) benefited OKC more than the 13-44 squad’s own skills. But in the end, the box score equals W #47, which is more important than any style points accrued along the way.”

Seth Davis of SI gives the lowdown on a bunch of NBA prospects: “Earl Clark, Louisville: He’s been disappointing. He has all the skills and a great body, but at the end of the day he’s soft. He has small hands, which will prohibit him from being good around the basket at the next level. He’s the same size as Jeff Green, but Jeff Green had great hands and wasn’t soft. He can’t really get his shot off unless he’s wide open. Someone will take him high because they think he’ll be an all-star in three of four years, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

SI still has Westbrook fourth in its rookie rankings: “Westbrook had one of his best games of the season in Saturday’s loss at Golden State, finishing with 31 points (on 13-of-24 shooting), five rebounds and 11 assists. He also had this spectacular dunk off a fancy feed from guard Earl Watson. Westbrook’s scoring average has increased in four consecutive months: 12.2 in November, 15.5 in December, 16.5 in January and 19.4 in February.”

Dime looks at what freshmen will make the best pros and Willie Warren is their guy: “We could go on and on, breaking down how various freshmen have failed to live up to expectations. But there is one rook who has separated himself from the pack: Oklahoma’s Willie Warren. He’s supremely athletic, and his handle is good enough to get to the hole against pretty much any defender. Against Kansas two nights ago, Warren dribbled the ball back-and-forth between his legs probably eight times, before exploding right, taking off around the first hash mark and soaring to finish at the rim. I’m not sure if that means he’ll slide from the two-guard over to the point in the NBA. At 6-4, 207 lbs., he’s a real combo guard who definitely has some Rodney Stuckey in his game. There’s also a little bit of Jack McClinton in Warren’s style – if Jeff Capel gave him the green light, Warren could pull close to thirty times in a single outing without really thinking about it. But because he’s played with Blake Griffin all year long, he’s learned to control some of that shoot-first, shoot-second mentality. He’s only averaging three assists per game, but his role on this team is to help the offense flow to Griffin, and to be the Sooners’ second scorer.”

I like this breakdown of KD by FB&G yesterday: “First, Kevin Durant is the real deal. Brett said he seems to score quiet points in the sense that he does not just take over a game the way Kobe or LeBron will, but he scores seemingly every time he touches the ball. Darius said he is already one of the elite scorers in the game: “his length and long stride enable him to get to basket easily against players that play him too closely. He is also rebounding much better and filling the lane on the break quite well. He’s getting to the foul line and shooting the 3 ball well too.” Darius suggests if you work to deny him the ball you can do it, he doesn’t fight for it enough.”

Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-02-25 10:16:27
@ SI article. <i>"Blake Griffin, 6-10 sophomore forward, Oklahoma: The only downside to him is he's not 6-10. He's probably 6-8. He's not going to be able to bully guys like he does in college, but he's a great athlete who can get out in transition and dunk. He's a more athletic version of Karl Malone."</i> Is that true? Is Blake only 6-8?
2009-02-25 10:17:52
I hope that if Smith really wants a buy out the Thunder do it. Maybe try to resign him this summer if he honestly wants to play here, but the guy seems like a class act and should get a shot at a title if he wants one. Wish we could have gotten something from him in a trade but that is not his fault.
2009-02-25 10:19:33
<a href="#comment-2647" rel="nofollow">@Jax Raging Bile Duct</a> Yes, that seems to be what most people believe.
2009-02-25 10:25:57
I've stood next to him a bunch and I'm pretty sure he's a solid 6-9. Bookout was 6-8 and Blake is definitely taller than him. But who knows what he'll show up as barefoot with an NBA scout measuring him.
2009-02-25 15:18:31
Guys, what are the chances that Willie Warren decides to come out since it's such a weak draft? If he does, would he be the type of shooting guard that the Thunder need? Sure, you take Blake if you can, but...
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-02-25 15:24:44
I think Willy has better ball handling skills than RW does. And a much, much better shot. RW beats Willy on overall athleticism though, hands down. And so far Willy isn't near the defender that RW is. But Willy can leap with the best of them; that dunk he had over the Iowa State stiff was really impressive.
2009-02-25 15:25:49
<a href="#comment-2654" rel="nofollow">@MartzMimic</a> I don't think he will. I think he's at OU for another year. He's got a couple of quotes where he says he's coming back and I know people say that all the time, but he said it as, "Oh, I'm coming back no doubt. Like no question."
2009-02-25 15:32:15
This may have been discussed already, but why isn't Joe Smith logging any minutes? Is he injured?
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