USA Today grades OKC’s offseason: “It goes without saying that, sans Durant, the Thunder will
no longer be contenders in the top-heavy Western Conference. But no matter how devastating the departure, it doesn’t exactly push them to the bottom of the barrel. The roster still features plenty of young talent, including Adams, the 7-foot, 23-year-old fan favorite from New Zealand. Entering his fourth season, it’s crucial that Adams builds on a strong postseason (10.1 points and 9.5 rebounds a game) and shoulders more of the offensive load while maintaining his reputation as the team’s defensive enforcer.”
Vincent Askew on Russ: “You can say what you want about Russell Westbrook. He’s going to miss shots, or turn it over sometimes. He’s human, and he’s very aggressive. But love him or hate him, you’ve got to appreciate how hard he plays and how competitive he is. I would love to play with a dude like that. He can’t wait ‘til the season starts— actually, he wishes the season would start tomorrow! Russell Westbrook is already prepared to play, and I’m ready to watch him win.”
Eric Freeman of BDL on Durant: “That’s not to say he’ll be loved. It’s too simple to say that Durant will eventually reclaim his old image, because the move to Golden State obviously changed the course of his career. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the view of him as a humble tonic to the overly arrogant LeBrons of the world was always overly simplistic. Durant has always been a complicated person with varying views on the life of an NBA superstar, and anyone who thought him a long shot to leave Oklahoma City saw only what they wanted to. Yet such a change can be jarring even if the initial impression was misguided, and it will take some time for people to come around on the new Durant.”
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider on over/under two titles for KD: “Under. There’s just too much uncertainty in Golden State. Even though everyone suspects Durant will build a long tenure in the Bay Area, he’s really on a one-year deal. And for all we know, 2017 free agent Stephen Curry could do the “I’m Coming Home” to Charlotte thing just like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did.”
Chad Ford of ESPN grades offseasons: “The rest of their moves this summer deserve praise. The Westbrook extension guarantees that they have a serious MVP candidate for the next three years and also improves his trade value should they decide to move him. The team probably got maximum value for Ibaka in the form of Oladipo and the Sabonis. Adding Abrines, an underrated sharp shooter, should give them some nice depth in their backcourt. All is not lost in OKC. The Thunder still look like a playoff team. Compared to the promise this team once had, however, this summer was a major disappointment.”
Big thanks to Alex for manning the ship for the last week while the Young family traipsed about.