Thursday Bolts – 12.4.08

  • David Berri takes on my Russell Westbrook column: “Beyond the issue of how good Westbrook has been is the question of how good Westbrook will be in the future. It’s certainly true that if Westbrook starts to hit his shots that his value will rise. And that might happen in the future. Then again, it’s also possible it won’t happen. Although we don’t know if (or when) Westbrook will become a “good” player, we should all be able to agree that a player shooting 35% from the field is not having a particularly good season so far.” Mr. Berri is far and away smarter than I and in a backward way, I’m flattered he even read what I wrote. One thing I want to say to defend myself a little: I didn’t say all Russell needed was a jumper and he’d be an All-Star now. I said if he develops a nice mid-range game, he is an “All-Star waiting to happen.” There’s no denying it – per 48, Westbrook and Rose are very similar. Westbrook is averaging close to 13 a game, almost three steals and is approaching five assists. I realize shooting percentage is not just something to pass over, but regardless, I think that’s a pretty good rookie season for a guy that was at his senior prom three years ago.
  • Ball Don’t Lie, Behind the Boxscore: “Kevin Durant (9-12 shooting, 24 points) continues to improve game by game, but in the end Chris Wilcox (5-11 shooting, five rebounds, 12 points, three turnovers and six fouls) was probably more trouble than he was worth. Because he hustled and gave effort every so often, his game looked a lot better than it actually was. Oklahoma City shot 54.5 percent, but you’re not going to get a lot of wins when your two point guards combine for nine turnovers in about 57 minutes.”
  • As we all are, Empty the Bench is happy the see Kevin Durant move to the three: “The Durantula had been manning the off-guard slot in an effort to protect him from the more physical style of NBA forwards. It was probably a good decision last season as the rail-thin swingman had a lot of trouble banging with the bigger pros on both ends, but Durant is showing that he was ready to make the transition to his natural small forward position. Get ready to see more of that complete player we saw in his lone season at Texas as a result.”
  • Forbes ranks NBA franchises based on worth and OKC’s stock is rising: “Meanwhile, Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett resurrected the team formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics, trading in a half-empty arena with a crummy lease in Seattle for a sold-out building in Oklahoma City where he keeps all of the revenues. The value of the Thunder is $300 million, 12% more than last year.”
  • And the Thunderguru’s game recap: “We had very little problem scoring tonight (we shot 55% from the field and 63% on three pointers), but we couldn’t stop the Cats from scoring. Then when we did make a couple of rare stops, we followed it up with Desmond Mason shooting a 16 foot airball with under 2:00. A bit later, we had Westbrook bricking a pull up jumper. We’ve got three guys stroking their jumpers tonight in Joe Smith, Durant and Green, but we’ve got these two guys shooting jumpers in crunch time? Puuuhleeezzz!”
  • The Lost Ogle’s third installment of “Peace, Love & Thunderstanding” (apparently they aren’t Thunderworld readers): “If the Thunder win a game and no one was there to see it, did it really happen? That’s the question the team answered on Saturday of this past week. While everyone in this state was watching a football game, the Thunder played the Memphis Grizzlies in Tennessee. Everyone in Memphis apparently had something better to do, because only 11,000 supposedly showed up to watch. Based on eye-witness accounts, that number had to be fudged.”