Tag Archives: Blake Griffin

NTTB Rumblings – 02 February 2018

img_4063Russell Westbrook had an incident with a fan after the Nuggets game: “You gotta be able to protect the players, man,” he said. “The fans are obviously there to enjoy the game, but they can’t come onto the floor. That’s totally unacceptable.”

Nick Gallo’s (OKCThunder.com) post-game recap: “After giving up 40, 32 and 32 points in the first three periods, the Thunder’s defense suddenly tightened up in the fourth quarter behind a grimy, scrappy effort by the second unit and scintillating performances by Paul George and Russell Westbrook down the stretch. With just 1.4 seconds left in regulation, the Thunder had allowed just 20 fourth quarter points.”

In addition to being in the All-Star Game, Paul George will also be in the 3-point shooting contest.  Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 02 February 2018

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NTTB Rumblings – 01 February 2018

img_4063Fred Katz (Norman Transcript) on this latest stretch of games for the Thunder which has been particularly grueling: “The Thunder are in the midst of a brutal portion of the schedule. They change time zones between five consecutive games — with four of those contests making up a couple of back-to-backs. It’s hectic enough that coach Billy Donovan has decided to forego a couple of morning shootarounds, doing so before Tuesday’s eventual loss at the Washington Wizards and and before Thursday’s game at the Denver Nuggets.”

Colin Ward-Henninger (CBS Sports) on the possible teams vying for Greg Monroe’s services: “Go ahead, try to name the Thunder’s backup center. Trick question … they don’t have one. Jermai Grant has been filling in at center for the second unit, but at 6-foot-8, 203 pounds, he’s not exactly an earth-mover out there. The lineup of Grant, Paul George, Alex Abrines, Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson has a net rating of minus-33.6 in 85 minutes this season — not good.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 01 February 2018

NTTB Rumblings – 31 January 2018

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Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Tribune) on the Thunder being a contender to dethrone the Warriors: “That was the goal in OKC, but it simply wasn’t working. Only when a clear decision was made — this is Westbrook’s team, and he will rule the offense — did this team elevate itself into relevance. “I think the fact that Russ is just playing, not trying to defer to anybody, just letting us play off him — we needed that,” George told reporters recently. “We need that Russ out there. Let the rest of us figure it out.”

A very informative article by Eric Pincus (Bleacher Report) on the Thunder’s future salary cap implications: “With George, along with Westbrook at $35.4 million, center Steven Adams at $24.2 million, Roberson at $10 million and Anthony at $27.9 million (with an early termination option), the Thunder could be looking at paying between $250 and $300 million for their roster. Should Anthony opt out, that would help solve the team’s budget crisis, but that doesn’t appear likely.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 31 January 2018

Daily Thunder Rumblings – 30 June 2017


Happy Friday to all. Here is the DTR on eve of the madness we all know as free agency. At 11:01 PM CST tonight, the Thunder should have somehow acquired Blake Griffin, Paul George, and Kristaps Porzingis, right? That’s how NBA free agency works, right?

Semaj Christon and Taj Gibson made the list of buzzer-beaters for the 2016-17 season.

Well if Blake Griffin and his injured toe don’t work in OKC, maybe Rudy Gay and his surgically repaired Achilles tendon will: “The Thunder tried to acquire Gay last October in a deal which would have send Cameron Payne and other pieces to Sacramento. That was before Gay tore his Achilles after playing only 30 games. Gay declined a player option worth $14.2 million for 2017-18. With career averages of 18.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 34.2 percent from 3-point range, Gay figures to command a higher salary when free agency open Saturday.”

Andrew Schlecht of Daily Thunder looks at Gay’s fit with the Thunder: “Will Gay accept a role? If he is a starter at either forward position, will he be satisfied spotting up? He could allow Westbrook to be off-ball some, but it would be more of a  “your turn, my turn” than the motion offense that Billy Donovan wants. The truth is, if the Thunder can’t make a major splash, Rudy Gay is not a terrible option. The ideal situation would be Gay signing for a small dollar amount within one of the exceptions, and agreeing to come off the bench. This would allow the Thunder to move on from Enes Kanter without giving up any bench scoring. Gay could also close games at the power forward position. If he gets his touches earlier in the game, he would probably be fine spotting up in closeout situations.”

As July 1st approaches, a sobering reality comes into view if Westbrook declines to sign the Designated Player Veteran Exception: “Russell Westbrook called his teammates to the stage Monday night in New York. So up trotted Nick Collison, Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson, Taj Gibson and Enes Kanter to stand in solidarity as Westbrook delivered his MVP speech. Irony oozed in Basketball City. The brotherhood was evident. So was the likelihood that the band is about to break up. Of Westbrook’s five teammates on stage, one (Kanter) is on the trading block and three others (Collison, Roberson, Gibson) are free agents, with none better than 50-50 of staying in Oklahoma City.”

Tim Bontemps looks at three small-market stars who could be on the move come the start of free agency: “But when Westbrook was asked a few minutes later about the potential of signing an extension with the Thunder, he did everything he could to avoid an answer. “Man, tonight is so important for me, and obviously with the contract and stuff coming up, it’s not really on my mind at the moment, honestly,” Westbrook said. “I’m just overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of blessings I’ve been able to get to be able to get this award. “Man, I’m just thinking about tonight, and then after that, I’ll move on.” Not the most reassuring of answers for a Thunder fan.”

When you have a good GM, openings will lead to rumors: “This does bring up an interesting scenario though. The past ten years (yes Presti was there for one Seattle season) SuperSonics/Thunder fans (yes there are a few of us out there) have been blessed with a young, intelligent General Manager. Unlike players, GM’s don’t switch teams unless they are 1) fired from one job or 2) one of the best GM’s in the game. It just so happens Presti falls in Category #2. So now the Big Fish of the NBA want in on Oklahoma City’s biggest off-the-court advantage.”

Mountain Dew unveils the triple-double breasted suit to honor the MVP.

An art teacher in the OKC school district celebrated Westbrook’s MVP win in a way only an art teacher would appreciate.

The HBO show Vice looks at the Enes Kanter situation against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

According to Yahoo Sports, the Thunder have been interested in Blake Griffin for months: “It’s a shame for the Thunder they backed off their plan to sign Griffin last summer, signing Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo to contract extensions, only to resume it a few months later. Letting Adams and Oladipo hit unrestricted free agency would have given Oklahoma City an additional $22,514,699 in cap flexibility while maintaining Adams’ and Oladipo’s Bird Rights. That alone wouldn’t have been enough to offer Griffin a max salary, but dumping Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and either Doug McDermott or Domantas Sabonis would’ve projected to get the Thunder there. In that scenario, Oklahoma City could have also exceeded the cap to re-sign Adams and Oladipo after inking Griffin.”

Daily Thunder Rumblings – 29 June 2017

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So Houston actually got Chris Paul. I wonder what this means for the Thunder and Blake Griffin? Let us explore on this edition of DTR.

It’s no secret the Thunder like Blake Griffin. But to make it work, Griffin needs to like OKC: “It’s uncertain what the move means for the Thunder, but it’s another power play for a Western Conference team in a relatively quiet summer (so far) for OKC. What could be revealed soon, however, is the fate of Blake Griffin – the Oklahoma City native and former University of Oklahoma All-American who the Thunder has reportedly had interest in for more than a year.”  Continue reading Daily Thunder Rumblings – 29 June 2017

Do the Thunder have a chance at acquiring Paul George?

paul george russell Westbrook

At around 2:00 PM CST on Father’s Day, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski released the following tweet:

First off, the timing of the tweet makes it very purposeful. Over four days before the NBA Draft is due to take place gives the Indiana Pacers plenty of time to receive trade offers that have some meat behind them. While many will look at this as a negative move from Paul George’s part, it actually likely helps the Pacers in the long run.

No one in the NBA wants to see a lame duck season from a player or a team. That’s what the 2017-18 season would’ve been like for the Pacers had they allowed George to just go through the motions next season. With this definitive statement from the George camp, both sides can now put into motion the necessary steps to move forward from this break-up. Continue reading Do the Thunder have a chance at acquiring Paul George?

Daily Thunder Rumblings – 16 June 2017

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Enes Kanter thinks Russell Westbrook will finish out his career in Oklahoma City: “Enes Kanter has been very outspoken this summer, but this time it was about Russell Westbrook. In an interview with SI.com published Thursday, the Thunder center said he thinks Westbrook, who isn’t a free agent this summer but is eligible for the Designated Veteran Player Exception contract which would keep him in Oklahoma City an additional five years, will stay with the Thunder his entire career. “One thing I saw about him is he’s a loyal guy,” Kanter said. “I understand he’s from L.A., he loves L.A., he goes to L.A. every summer, but he’s a loyal player. “I think he’s gonna finish his career in Oklahoma City.”

In the midst of a Jerry West to LA Clippers article, we start to see the bread crumb-like rumors of Blake Griffin possibly going to Oklahoma City: “Paul also has plans to talk with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, one executive said. Griffin can sign a five-year deal worth $175 million with L.A., or sign a four-year deal worth $130 million with another team. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams that will make a bid for Griffin, according to several executives.” Continue reading Daily Thunder Rumblings – 16 June 2017

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview (Game 64 of 82)

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder

  • When: Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 7:00 PM CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

A team usually heads into the playoffs in one of two ways. The first is what the Oklahoma City Thunder have experienced in the last few seasons, which is to wrap up a playoff spot with about a month to go, and either play for positioning or begin to rest players for the playoffs. The second scenario is for a team to scrap and claw until the final day of the regular season to get into the playoffs. The Thunder haven’t had to experience the latter scenario since the 2009-10 season. And it appears this season will also fall into the latter scenario. The New Orleans Pelicans continue winning despite a myriad of injuries. The Thunder currently hold the 8th spot by he slimmest of margins (.002), but have an “easier” upcoming schedule.

This is the 3rd and final meeting of the season between these two opponents. Each team won on their respective courts, as the losing team was missing a key player in each game. In the first meeting, the Thunder were without Kevin Durant, and later without Russell Westbrook after he broke his hand in the first half of that game. In the second meeting, the Clippers were without Blake Griffin, who missed the game due to a staph infection in his elbow.

The Opponent

paul jordan clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are currently 41-23, good for 5th in the Western Conference. Once again, they are one of the top offensive teams in the league, ranking number one in offensive rating, averaging the 2nd most points per game (106) and averaging the 3rd most assists per game (24.4). That part of the game has never been a problem for the Clippers. It’s the other end of the floor where the Clippers struggle. They rank No. 19 in the league in points allowed per game (100) and are the 14th ranked team in terms of defensive rating. Surprisingly, even though they have the best rebounder in the league in DeAndre Jordan (14.5 rebounds per game), they rank 21st in total rebounds per game. The Clippers’ attack is led by the best pure point guard in the league in Chris Paul, who is putting up 18.2 points and 10.2 assists. On the wing, JJ Redick and Matt Barnes provide good release valves for perimeter offense, shooting 42.5% and 36.5%, respectively, from deep. Spencer Hawes has been a bit of a disappointment since signing a contract for the full MLE in the offseason. Nonetheless, his ability to stretch the floor has kept the middle devoid of extra defenders in Blake Griffin’s absence. Up front, DeAndre Jordan has stepped up his production since Griffin went out, averaging 14.6 points and 18.6 rebounds in those 13 games. Injuries to Griffin and Jamal Crawford have muted some of the Clippers’ depth, as they are having to depend on Austin Rivers, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, and the newly signed Nate Robinson for bench production.

Probable Starting Line-Ups

Los Angeles Clippers

  • PG – Chris Paul
  • SG – JJ Redick
  • SF – Matt Barnes
  • PF – Spencer Hawes
  • C – DeAndre Jordan

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Andre Roberson
  • SF – Kyle Singler
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Enes Kanter

Three Things

1. Pick-n-Roll Defense – I still think Kanter starts, but it would not surprise me if Steven Adams gets the nod in this game. While Kanter has proven himself to be a good 1-on-1 post defender, he struggles mightily in pick and roll situations involving good point guards and competent bigs. Westbrook usually does a good job of staying in front of Paul, so Kanter has that working for him. But Adams has more experience in playing with Westbrook and the positionality that is required to be successful in defending the pick and roll.

2. Bench – The reserves were the main reason the last meeting between these two teams turned into a rout in the Thunder’s favor. The Thunder’s bench scored 62 points, with 3 reserves scoring 15 points or more. The Clippers’ dependence on Austin Rivers and Hedo Turkoglu should benefit the Thunder.

collison mcgary thunder

3. Protect Your Hands – Two games against the Clippers this year, two broken hands to a Thunder starter. It was Westbrook in the first meeting and Adams in the 2nd meeting. Rebound with your chest, guys.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers preview (Game 2 of 82)

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  • When: Thursday, 30 October 2014 at 9:30 PM CST
  • Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

The Oklahoma City Thunder played great for the first 40 minutes of the night against Portland. Russell Westbrook was going all SuperNova on the Trailblazers, Lance Thomas (LANCE THOMAS!) was doing his best Kenneth Faried impression, and the defense was clamping down on the Portland shooters. Then the 4th quarter started. The defense lost its discipline, the role players started playing like role players, and Russell Westbrook, who was on the bench to begin the quarter, couldn’t bring the Thunder back with the Portland defense keying in on him. With all the odds that were stacked against the Thunder, this did feel like a bit of a moral victory. A loss was expected, but to have a 2 point lead heading into the 4th quarter, and then completely fall apart, was a bit disappointing. But as the venerable Swizz Beatz would say, “On to the next one.”

The Los Angeles Clippers open up their season in the same place and against the same team where it ended last season. The Thunder defeated the Clippers in 6 games in the 2nd round of last season’s playoffs. In what is quickly becoming a budding rivalry in the league, the Clippers are trying to get to where the Thunder have been. The teams split their regular season meetings last year, with each team winning one game on the other’s court.

The Opponent

griffin barnes jordan paul redick clippers

The Clippers finished last season 57-25, good for 3rd in the Western Conference. They defeated the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs as the series went the distance. They then lost to the Thunder in 6 games in the second round. The Clippers had the highest offensive rating in the league last season (112.1), and bring back most of the core from the previous year. Leading the charge is one of the best players in the league, Chris Paul. He led the league in assists per game (10.7) and steals per game (2.5). Joining Paul in the backcourt is sharp shooter JJ Redick who shot nearly 40% from 3-point territory last season. Up front, MVP candidate Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan continue to cause havoc with their athleticism and size. The Clippers sport one of the better benches in the league, which features 2-time 6th Man of the Year award winner Jamal Crawford, Jordan Farmar, and stretch center Spencer Hawes.

Probable Starting Line-ups

Los Angeles Clippers

  • PG – Chris Paul
  • SG – JJ Redick
  • SF – Matt Barnes
  • PF – Blake Griffin
  • C – DeAndre Jordan

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Andre Roberson
  • SF – Perry Jones
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Steven Adams

3 Keys to the Game

1. Perimeter Defense – Much like the Portland game, one of the keys to holding a high scoring offense in check is guarding the 3-point line. The Thunder did a good job of that for 3 quarters, but got undisciplined in the 4th quarter and paid a costly price. The Clippers have 6 players who shot at least 34% from deep last season. The perimeter defenders (especially Andre Roberson and Perry Jones) need to do a better job of staying with the shooters and not following the ball so much.

2. A little help – I don’t know if he is out of shape, hurt, or trying to do too much, but Ibaka did not look like himself last night. He was pump-faking and trying to create, which led to his team high 5 turnovers. He was hesitating on his outside shot, which is unlike him, and shot only 4/11. He may just be out of sync due to missing most of training camp. Hopefully, its something he can work through and correct as soon as possible. Perry Jones, after two great preseason games, looked very lost out there in the starting line-up. He shot 1-9 from the field and was spun around a couple times on the defensive end. Roberson was okay, but the Thunder may still need more from him, even if its as a slasher. You know the team is struggling a bit when Lance Thomas is the 2nd leading scorer on the team with 14 points. Westbrook will need more help this game. Speaking of Westbrook…

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers

3. Paul vs. Westbrook – Are there any more contenders for best point guard in the game? Maybe a healthy Derrick Rose, but for the most part, I think not. Last season’s dual was won by Westbrook in dominating fashion. Round 2 will likely be as entertaining.

Uncharted Waters: The Thunder and the Kevin Durant injury

durant thunder injury

In life, things have a way of working out oppositely to what we expected. The job promotion you thought would make you happy, actually makes you miserable working under the megalomaniac you call your new boss. The breakup with that significant other you thought would sink you into a depression, actually allowed you to find THE ONE. Life has a strange way of finding its own equilibrium. And that’s exactly how I’m approaching this injury to Kevin Durant. There are negatives and positives to any situation, even this one.

Bad News First: The Negatives:

1. Risk of Reinjury – We saw last season how nagging surgical interventions can be. The battle is not won when the surgeon proclaims, “This surgery was a success.” On a side note, I’ve always wondered what that meant. How do you know it was successful if you haven’t even tested the fix yet? I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘the surgery was a success’ is doctor speak for ‘we operated on the correct leg and the patient is still alive’. Russell Westbrook’s initial meniscus surgery was labeled a success. But complications do occur and that’s what the Thunder faced when Westbrook’s knee began to swell during training camp. Scans were run, and it was determined that a loose internal stitch had caused the swelling. Westbrook had a second, probably minor, arthroscopic surgery to fix that issue. The second surgery kept Westbrook out all preseason and two games into the regular season. Westbrook returned on the third game of the season and played like nothing had ever happened to him. That is, until his knee began to swell again around the Christmas game. The team performed another scope of the knee, which kept Westbrook out until after the All-Star break. In all, Westbrook missed 36 games last season.

The area where Durant suffered the break is notorious for being a difficult heal spot. The blood flow to that area of the bone is much less then at the ends of the bone. There have been plenty of players who have suffered this break and have had this surgery and have come back to the game just fine. But there have been others, like Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets and CJ McCollum of the Portland Trailblazers, who have suffered reinjury of the same bone, usually within a year or two of the initial surgery.  I bring up those two names because they span the spectrum of player body types. Lopez is a 7-footer who weighs over 250 pounds and plays in the post. McCollum is a 6’3 combo guard that can take it to the rim and shoot the outside shot. Durant is like the best of both worlds: a 6’11 forward who moves like a guard. Luckily, he doesn’t pack the same mass as Lopez. Will Durant lack of size actually benefit him in his recovery from this injury or will his style of play (guard-like) be a deterrent in his recovery?

brook lopez injury

2. Falling behind in the Western Conference – A lot changed this offseason in the NBA. One thing that remained the same: the Western Conference is still brutal. Most every team in the conference either improved or stayed the course, with the exception, possibly, of Houston and Minnesota. Over the past 5 seasons, the wins average to get into the playoffs in the West has been 47 games. Prior to Durant’s injury, this team was slated to win between 58 and 62 games and be in contention for the number one seed, not only in the Western Conference, but also, throughout the playoffs. That wins estimate will probably need to be curtailed back a bit depending on when Durant gets back, and how he looks when he does get back.

A Westbrook-Ibaka-Jackson core could easily lead the Thunder to 45 wins, which may be good for an 8th seed in the West. And although the Thunder have won road playoff games before, they would much rather play in the friendly confines of the ‘Peake come playoff time. With that said, one of the biggest lessons this team has learned in the past 3 seasons is that home court advantage probably counts more in the early rounds of the playoffs than in the later rounds. Veteran teams like San Antonio and Dallas, who have routinely been to the later rounds of the playoffs, don’t really care where they play. They usually perform the same whether they are at home or on the road. Maybe the Thunder are becoming veteran enough to realize that sacrificing a couple victories in the regular season for rest, may come back to help them in the playoffs, whether its at home or on the road.

3. Derailment of Durant’s repeat MVP campaign – Is it possible that Durant could repeat as MVP this season, even while missing up to a quarter of the season? It’s plausible, but highly unlikely. First of all, the season’s narratives are all working against Durant this season. LeBron James is back in Cleveland in the homecoming of all homecomings. Derrick Rose is back after being sidelined for nearly two years due to various knee ailments. Kobe Bryant is back from injury and looking like the Bryant of old. And Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are ready to take the next step in their development after a tumultuous final year of ownership under Donald Sterling. Narrative and time on the court are both working against Durant. Hopefully, Durant is more worried about the Finals MVP, since he already has a regular season one under his belt.

Good News: The Positives

1. We’ve been here before – We’ve been through this already with Westbrook. When he was scheduled to miss the first month of the season recovering from his second knee surgery in 4 months, many Thunder fans thought the team would struggle mightily out the gates. Instead, Westbrook returned in the third game of the season, and the Thunder played like a fully healthy Thunder team would play. Then, in late December when Westbrook was slated to be out for another two months, everybody fretted about the upcoming schedule. Instead, Durant went supernova on the league (Slim Reaper) and the Thunder made it out of that run relatively unscathed. Will this be the same situation? Probably not.

The Thunder had a good replacement player for Westbrook in Reggie Jackson. While Jackson is no Westbrook, he does a lot of the same things that Westbrook does, which allows the Thunder to play their style of basketball. Unfortunately, there is no one on the roster that can mirror what Durant does for the Thunder. Perry Jones is a candidate, but doesn’t have that extra gear to be a factor on the floor. Anthony Morrow is a possibility, but, while he’s a great shooter, he struggles in creating his own shot.

So how will the Thunder survive? The same way they survived when Westbrook went down. Rely on Westbrook to provide a lot of the offense, and have other players step up their games offensively and defensively. Ibaka, Jackson, and Jeremy Lamb can each do their parts offensively. The team will probably have to start Steven Adams as he is much more offensively adept as compared to Kendrick Perkins. And coach Scott Brooks will probably have to trust his young guys a lot more. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be frustrating at times? Yes. Will it be exhilarating at times? Hell yeah.

jackson ibaka jones thunder

2. Young guys get to step up – A lot like last season, the Thunder young core (Adams, Lamb, Jones, and Andre Roberson) has to step up if the team is to stay afloat and succeed. If anything, this season is a big one for Lamb and Jones, as they are eligible for their first extensions after this season. If that isn’t motivation to step up your game, I don’t know what is. It’s put up or shut up time for these two players. The organization seemingly likes these two guys, but with them coming up on extensions in the next two seasons, it’s time to see if they can really be core members of the team or if they are trade bait for future assets.

Last season, when Westbrook went down, Lamb provided some of the fire power off the bench that was missing when Jackson was tasked to start. In the first half of the season, Lamb almost averaged double figures. His scoring average and playing time went down when he started slumping after the All-Star break and after the Thunder acquired veteran forward Caron Butler. Jones was used as a utility man, playing any position not named point guard or center. He showed flashes, but continues to be a mystery because his physical attributes would suggest he would dominate on the court.

The real key will be Adams and Roberson. If they are both tasked with starting, their rapid development will be tantamount to how the Thunder react to their time without Durant. If Adams is able to stay on the floor, that make Perkins and his $9 million dollar expiring contract extremely movable. If Roberson is able to get some semblance of offense, his perimeter defense will take some of the pressure off Westbrook, so he can focus on offense. The young’ins have stepped up before. They’ll be expected to do it again.

3. Kickstart to Westbrook’s MVP campaign – This is probably the most exciting part of Durant sitting out the first month of the season. I mean, the Durant sitting part isn’t exciting. But if you’re going to find a silver lining, it’s the fact that we finally get to see what a Westbrook-led Thunder team can do. And no, I do not subscribe to the train of thought that Westbrook will go all Iverson on us and jack up 25-30 shots per game. Instead, I think Westbrook will beautifully manage games, attacking when needed and distributing whenever available.

westbrook mvp

In last season’s playoffs, Westbrook was probably the 2nd best individual player in the playoffs. In 19 games, Westbrook averaged 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 2.2 steals, while outplaying the likes of Mike Conley, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker. The MVP talk for Westbrook for the upcoming season hit an uptick during those playoffs. But the reality was that Westbrook would probably never win an MVP with Durant in tow. But now, with Durant out of the picture for a stretch, Westbrook could toss his name into the MVP discussion. Other than LeBron’s homecoming, there’s no better narrative than Westbrook doing for the Thunder this season, what Durant did for them last season. Which is, carry them for long stretches and come up with game winning plays. I’m prepared to see games where Westbrook forces the issues and shoots 3-21 with 5 turnovers and the Thunder get blown out by 25. But I’m also prepared to see games like Game 4 of last season’s Western Conference Finals (40 points/ 10 assists/ 5 rebounds/ 5 steals) or Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals (43 points/5 assists/ 7 rebounds). The Westbrook Experience is just beginning.