With the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles ending, I think it’s quite apropos to look at the Western Conference standings as we head into the unofficial second half of the season and see a giant traffic jam. Eight teams are within 4.5 games of each other, with the bottom two teams in that mix likely ending up as lottery teams instead of playoff teams.
This has always been the major difference between the Western Conference and Eastern Conference over the past decade. The East is top heavy (usually just one or two teams – many of those teams usually involving some guy named LeBron James), while the West has a lot more depth, team-wise. It hasn’t been rare over the past decade for the eighth seed in the East to be at or below .500, while the West eighth seed has to win at least 45 games to get in. While that disparity seems to be improving, there is still a visible gap between the two conferences. Continue reading Scoreboard Watching: The Traffic Jam→
Am I a homer? Heck yeah. I’m a fan of the team I write about. It’s not a difficult concept. I like to write about things I’m familiar with. I know basketball, but more specifically, I know Thunder basketball. So I write about it.
Predictions are always a difficult thing when it comes to sports. They are usually made with the caveat that a ton of variables remain static. Things such as injuries, front office moves, suspensions, chemistry can’t be taken into account.
When you look at these 20 predictions, know two things: 1) They are likely going to favor the Oklahoma City Thunder in some form or fashion. And 2) Because I know a little about basketball, I’ll never make a prediction so outlandish that it won’t have a chance of coming true. Without further ado, here are the predictions:
20. Josh Huestis will play over 750 minutes this season for the Thunder.
In his first two seasons, Huestis played a grand total of 86 minutes for the Thunder. But the third year forward looks determined to get some minutes this year, and his play in the preseason may warrant some looks. While 750 minutes may seem like a lot, that’s just 9.2 minutes per game over 82 games. I think Huestis will be a full-time NBA player this year and will get enough playing time to reach that minutes mark. Continue reading 20 Thunder-centric predictions for the season→
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s preseason came to a close on Tuesday with a road win over the Denver Nuggets. The Thunder finished the preseason 3-1, losing only to the Houston Rockets in their first preseason game. Also of note in that game was the fact Russell Westbrook did not play.
In the games where all the starters played, the Thunder went undefeated, ushering the era of the Thunder’s Big 3. When it comes to the preseason though, each team has a different objective for what they want to garner out of these practice games. For the Thunder, it was clear they wanted to build chemistry between Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. And they wanted to see what they had in a couple of their young guys.
There’s not a lot that can be extrapolated from four games. The Thunder likely won’t win 75% of their games this season. And the Big 3 likely won’t average just 21 minutes a game. With that said, there were some takeaways I noticed from this past week. Some are positive. Others are worrisome. Here are five takeaways from this preseason. Continue reading Five Takeaways From the Preseason→
There’s an understandable euphoria for the Oklahoma City Thunder heading into this season. The front office has accumulated a wealth of talent at the top of the rotation. For the first time in its history, the Thunder have put together a Big 3 where all the players involved are in their prime. But like every other team in the league, the Thunder will still have their weaknesses. Here’s a look at 3 possible Achilles heel’s for the Thunder’s Big 3.
There are a ton of positives to having a Big 3. In the case of the Thunder, Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony each have similar characteristics that will help the Thunder improve upon their many weaknesses from last season, especially on the offensive end of the floor. All three have been go-to scorers throughout their careers and all three have been asked to be the leaders of their teams.
But now they are together. And that can have unintended consequences in terms of chemistry and fit. As we’ve seen with the Miami Big 3, there are growing pains in putting together such a talented collective. Even Golden State had its hiccups throughout the season last year. It would be foolish to think this trio would be any different. Continue reading Three Possible Issues for the Thunder’s Big 3→
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” A simple exchange in what was basically a blowout in February, set the stage for what we’ve seen this offseason from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder could not do anything when Kevin Durant left them on July 4th, 2016. By the time he made his decision, most of the top notch free agents were already off the board. Instead, the Thunder strategized from that point forward and hoped opportunities would arise from a turbulent NBA landscape. And arise they did.
The summer of 2016 basically set the stage for what happened in Oklahoma City this offseason. When every team was infused with an extra 20 million, moves were made that were almost immediately regretted once the ink dried on those contracts. Finding an extra $20 million in your team’s salary cap is like finding $1000 in between your couch cushions. Some people will make wise decisions with that extra money. But others will treat it like house money and YOLO the hell out of it. Many teams made bad decisions that summer that eventually led to their salary caps being tied up for the next 2-4 seasons. Continue reading “I’m coming!” – The two words that galvanized a franchise.→
Media days can sometimes be an exercise in repetition. The same 2-3 questions can be rinsed, washed, and repeated for every player. What do you expect your role to be this season? What do you think about “latest talking point in the country”? What are the team expectations?
You can probably fill an entire article just with the answers from those 3 questions alone. The difficult part is trying to cut through all that player-speak and listen in to what the real themes are for the team. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, the one theme that consistently permeated throughout the entire day was winning.
But every team heads into the season talking about winning. Even those teams looking at an entire season of ineptitude find ways to think of sunshine and rainbows before the season starts. The Thunder’s talk of winning felt different though. It was talked about with brazen confidence. And for good reason, too. The brand new Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony gives the Thunder a collection of players they’ve never had since they moved to the Great Plains. Continue reading Recapping Thunder Media Day→
Earlier this summer, it was reported the Thunder had agreed to a partially-guaranteed deal with Thomas. My thinking was that it was just for summer league and possibly for the G-League when it came time for that. But it still stuck in my head whether he would be with the Thunder during training camp or not. So I decided to ask the source, himself. Continue reading NTTB Rank: 11-8→
It’s that time of year again. With about 35 days until the season starts, it’s time to start ranking players. Sports Illustrated has started their Top 100 list. ESPN has followed suit. But ranking 100 players is just too much for me. Especially, since I mainly just focus on one team.
I’ve decided to do an Oklahoma City Thunder players ranking based on the 20 or so players that are currently involved with the franchise. This first installment will look at players ranked 16-20. These will likely be a combination of training camp invitees, 2-way players, and/or under-performing veterans.
20. Unsigned Training Camp Invitee
Technically, the Thunder still have one more spot available for their 20 man training camp roster. There are still plenty of unsigned free agents looking for a chance to make a roster. For every run of the mill training camp invite that ends up getting cut, you sometimes ends up with a player like Lance Thomas that works on his game and takes advantage of the training camp opportunity to earn a roster spot. Continue reading NTTB Rank: 20-16→
Recently, 2K released their All-Time Teams for all 30 of the teams in the league. While many teams have their own history, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still having to share their history with the Seattle Supersonics. When their released their all-time team for the Thunder, the team featured 4 Thunder players and 11 Sonics players.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree with anything on that list. The Sonics had a long, storied history in their 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. They won a championship in 1979 and their list of players includes several Hall of Famers. (On a side note: Why the hell is Shawn Kemp not in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best PF’s in the league in the 90’s, averaged a double-double for six consecutive seasons, is a 6x All-Star, and a 3x 2nd Team All-NBA. What more does a man need on his resumé?) Continue reading All-Time Oklahoma City Thunder team for 2K18→
Recently, Bovada, the online gambling site based out of Las Vegas, released their NBA MVP odds for next season. Leading that list was current league MVP Russell Westbrook, at 7/2 odds. Former league MVP and Westbrook’s former teammate, Kevin Durant, was second with 9/2 odds.
The fact that Bovada would have Westbrook listed as their leader for MVP odds seems a litte strange to me. Not in the fact that Westbrook doesn’t have the credentials to be an MVP-worthy candidate. That, he definitely does. But in the fact that, with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s moves this offseason, an MVP season for Westbrook this year will look completely different than the MVP season from last year. Continue reading What does a regular Westbrook MVP season look like?→