Wednesday Bolts – 12.28.11

Kevin Pelton at Deadspin projects 42-24 for the Thunder: “James Harden is capable of doing everything an NBA team needs from its shooting guard. His potential is immense. Harden compares best to a player who does not show up in his comparables because he was playing in Europe at the same age: Manu Ginobili.” power rankings have OKC third: “Barely survived a furious Timberwolves attack Monday, but it was on the second game of a back-to-back. Thunder look as good as any team in the West.”

Perk tweet: “I would never wear hand band my haircut be to fresh.”

Darnell Mayberry on OKC’s big game in Memphis: “The Russell Westbrook-Mike Conley matchup last year was not the mismatch most thought it would have been, as Conley ran his team effectively and controlled the pace while making few mistakes. And of course, there’s the bench matchup to keep an eye on. It will be highlighted by James Harden and O.J. Mayo going head to head.”

Terrific email from Joann that I want to share: “I might be too biased the other way, but the hand wringing has already begun. Please help me determine if I am too much of a homer here, but I actually thought RW had a good gritty tough it out game against the Twolves and adding his turnovers to the Magic total conceals a gutty effort. The charges were designed by Barea and co to stanch what energized the Thunder’s stagnant offense which was Russ’s aggressiveness. Do I cringe many times?: yes. Do I want more passing?: Yes. Do I want more control and better decision-making?: goodness yes. But I want 28 pts too. Sports animal guys sound like they didn’t even watch game just looked at box scores and complained. And openly fantasizing about other players just seems unhelpfully knee-jerk. Maybe he won’t get any better (which I doubt) but do people really think he’s that big of drag on OKC even in the unlikely event he realizes no more upside potential? I think OKC has spoiled people and they don’t realize how we have lightning in a bottle and that top 5 pgs aren’t piled up on street corners and many (almost all teams) have to make do with what they have is, a lot less.”

10 big NBA stories of 2011.

Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal: “In other words: It’s time to grind — like last season. That means feeding opponents a steady diet of Randolph and center Marc Gasol down low and playing hard-nosed defense. But if the Griz sleepwalk tonight in their home opener like they did Monday during a season-opening loss at San Antonio, then it could be a long night against budding rival Oklahoma City.”

Check out Russell Westbrook’s roller skates.

Q&A preview for the Griz game tonight.

Neato iPhone app via DT commenter TempBoy Brandon: Sports Scheduler Lite allows you to sync your calendar with the Thunder’s schedule. It’s free and easy.