4 min read

Tuesday Bolts – 10.29.13

Tuesday Bolts – 10.29.13

Marc Stein’s first power rankings have OKC 10th: “Was going to playfully dock OKC for not bringing me with ’em to Manchester for that exhibition against Philly, but this is no time to be playful. Wednesday night in Utah will mark the first time in a span of 395 regular-season games Kevin Durant takes the floor without Russell Westbrook at his side.”

Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com says KD will win MVP: “To his credit, Durant certainly looks the part. Just entering his prime, it appears that Durant has expanded his game yet again in a team-first direction that should appeal to voters (he’s averaging 6.3 assists per 36 minutes in Westbrook’s absence this preseason). Also, it seems folks are sleeping on the Thunder ahead of the season, even though Westbrook should be back sometime around Thanksgiving. Remember, this is the same team that outscored opponents by a wider margin than any team in the league last season (plus-9.2 points per game). If the Heat fall off a bit this season, the MVP is there for Durant’s taking.”

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com has OKC ninth: “When Russell Westbrook is out another 4-6 weeks and we’re talking about how Steven Adams could really help them, yeah, it’s time for a drop.”

KD is probably a little too excited about the Entourage movie.

Season predictions from CBSSports.com.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com is taking the Clippers over OKC in the WCF: “If Russell Westbrook hadn’t gone down, I believe it would’ve been a rematch of the Heat and Thunder in last year’s Finals. I do think the Rockets will be dangerous and compelling, but it’s exceedingly difficult to put a team together via trade (James Harden) and free agency (Dwight Howard) and make a run to the conference finals or beyond in your first season together. The exception to that rule was the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, who were coached by Doc Rivers. Fast forward to 2013-14, and Rivers takes over a team that is talented enough to be the last one standing in the West. Another team ready to take the next step? Golden State. A healthy Andrew Bogut (fresh off a three-year, $36 million extension), the electrifying Stephen Curry and the addition of wing stopper Andre Iguodala makes the Warriors a serious threat to land in the conference finals or beyond.”

One ESPN.com writer picked Serge Ibaka for DPOY. Five picked KD for MVP.

After the Wizards waived Shannon Brown, a lot wondered if that’s a good pickup for OKC. I’m actually intrigued mildly by Kendall Marshall as a third point guard. Brown could fill that as well and is certainly more proven, but Marshall is a player that could be developed.

Bethlehem Shoals for GQ: “In any other basketball universe, KD would be the consummate MVP. Don’t tell him that, though; the man doesn’t do consolation prizes, which is why the team’s issues last season—and potentially beyond—leave him with even more to prove, even more with a chip on his shoulder. The Thunder stay answering questions about Harden, who is only looming larger in their story, and Russell Westbrook will start the year inactive. Sometimes it seems strange to even suggest that the Thunder could’ve had KD, Westbrook, and Harden at this stage in their careers. If the Thunder only manage to come back to where they were before Westbrook went down? That’s treading water. That’s #2. That will drive KD insane. Good thing there’s more to worry about this year than LeBron. That at least puts off #2 until the last imaginable minute. Again.”

Charting Ibaka’s blocks.

Darnell Mayberry on the Harden deal a year later: “Had the Thunder given in to his desires, Harden would have become the first sixth man in league history on a max contract. Oklahoma City also would have had three perimeter players on max contracts, something else the league has never seen. Additionally, the Harden that thrilled in Houston last season when given free rein never could have been the same player alongside Durant and Westbrook. With only one basketball, it would have been impossible. Still, some say, the Thunder could have tried to make it work. In that case, this would have been the final year of OKC’s championship window. Let that sink in.”

Berry Tramel: “Ibaka is an OK foul shooter; 71.3 percent for his career. But per 36 minutes, his amount of foul shots has not changed much – between 2.4 and 3.0 per game in each of his four seasons. An aggressive Ibaka could send shivers up NBA spines. Not just offensively; rebounding, too, where Ibaka is good but has the capacity to be great. But offensive forcefulness would make Ibaka an even better player. He might find himself not only on the foul line more, but even more frequently open for those jumpers.”

The Point Forward with reasons to watch: “Kevin Durant, left to his own devices. Compared to the East, this year’s West looks downright placid, with one notable exception: Kevin Durant. The three-time scoring champ might just be going through the NBA superstar’s version of puberty, as he’s lashed out against his elders, admitted to getting down on himself, and yearned to find his footing as both a champion and an MVP in world dominated by the Heat and James. As if those internal conflicts weren’t sufficient reason to keep Durant squarely on center stage this season, the Basketball Gods have stripped him of his elite running mate for the opening portion of the season and his proven third wheel. How will he respond to these tests? What statistical barriers will he break in the process? It’s telling that the overwhelming first instinct is to feel sympathy for his opponents, rather than for Durant himself.”