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Monday Bolts – 7.12.10

Monday Bolts – 7.12.10

The Thunder has a new sideline reporter: “Growing up in basketball-crazy Indiana, KOCO-5 sports reporter Kelly Crull played and followed the sport as a youngster. Now she will get to cover it on its highest level, the NBA, after being hired as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s sideline reporter. The team will announce her hiring Monday.”

RJ Young of HoopsAddict evaluates the Thunder’s summer league: “James Harden made the biggest leap in his individual game of any Thunder player on the roster. He played both guard positions and made himself into a facilitator as well as a scorer. When the team needed a bucket, he darted to the basket, drew contact and got to the line.”

KD, Jedi Master, is already happening: “So, if LeBron James is now the casual NBA fan’s villain, the player they root for to fail, who will play the hero? Who will be the new King, the new heir? It says here that it happens to be a young man playing in Oklahoma City named Kevin Durant. Durant and his young Thunderous crew must step into the void that LeBron James has left in Cleveland. Not only do I believe that Durant will sit in that throne, I believe he will take it to places James only teased. I believe Durant is the first King that the NBA has seen who might actually make us forget, if only for moments, Michael Jordan. That is what it means to be the true King of the NBA.”

Frank Hughes of SI on KD’s extension: “At the same time, Durant could have made a spectacle of himself like the others. He could have made public threats that demanded the Thunder pay him or he would look elsewhere. He could have groaned about the infusion of talent he’d like to see on the roster that would make him a winner for years to come. Refreshingly, Durant did none of those. He trusted Presti. He trusted the Thunder. He trusted his teammates. And he displayed the values that have gotten him to this point.”

Darnell Mayberry on five things we learned from Orlando: “Byron Mullens does indeed possess the potential he was projected to have coming out of Ohio State. If Mullens remained at Ohio State for his sophomore season and showed as much growth over the past year as he has with the Thunder, he likely would have been a top five pick in this year’s draft. Mullens added 15 pounds of muscle and displayed a nifty new low-post game to complement his ability to step outside and hit jumpers and run the floor and finish in transition. It’s too early to pencil him into the rotation next season, but another year of development at the same rate and Mullens could prove to be a steal.”

I joined the Thunderground Radio friends for a chat about KD’s extension and summer league.

HoopsWorld grading transactions, gives KD an A+: “This was the biggest no-brainer of the summer. Franchise player, up for extension off his rookie scale contract, willing to stay with no strings attached…and the Thunder made it happen as quickly as they could. No fanfare on either side. Now, some of you may ask what about the waiting strategy I’m saying the Grizzlies should have used with Gay? My response is do you really think Gay is in nearly the same stratosphere as Durant? Not even close.”

It’s likely KD might emerge as the leader of Team USA. Let’s just hope he doesn’t make any SuperFriends in Turkey. YOU STAY AWAY FROM HIM RONDO.

NBA.com’s early rookie rankings: On the cusp: Cole Aldrich, Thunder: The Kansas big man could be a welcome addition to the frontcourt off the bench; Aldrich, who averaged 3.5 blocks in his junior season, should take minutes from Nenad Krstic or slide to the power forward spot if OKC wants to go big.