ICYMI: Down to Dunk is moving on from Daily Thunder. To be clear, all is amicable and we appreciate all that the podcast has done for DT over the years. You, along with a larger audience, can keep following them into the new year.
ESPN is (too) slowly moving the Thunder up their power rankings, putting them at 13th this week, with a takeaway from Royce Young: “That’s six wins out of seven for OKC, capped with an extremely impressive road win in Toronto without Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder (the Raptors were missing Pascal Siakam, though). Chris Paul has a vintage look to him, orchestrating in crunch time, hitting big shots and leading a young, developing roster. Along with it, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is blossoming; he set a career high (32 points) a week ago and has matched it twice since. In his past six games, he is averaging 27.3 points on 53% shooting.”
Brian Kalbrosky (USA Today) has Kevin Durant as the Thunder’s best player of the decade: “Honorable Mentions: Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka. The Oklahoma City Thunder somehow drafted three MVP winners who all hit their primes during the 2010s. While none of them is still with the team, the one who made the biggest splash was Kevin Durant. The former No. 2 overall pick put up 28.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while also shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range. Even though point guard Russell Westbrook was the player who had the longest tenure with the team, it was obvious that Oklahoma City was the most successful version of itself with Durant on the roster.”
Chris Paul added his thoughts to ESPN’s piece on LeBron James’ 35th birthday: “For all that he’s been dealt from a young age, just to see how he’s handled everything, man, as a friend and a brother it’s unbelievable to see. People don’t realize how selfless he is.” He pauses for a moment and thinks. “But that ain’t for everybody to understand, either.”
ICYMI: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is good: