Wednesday Bolts – 1.18.17
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider: “It’s possible to imagine scenarios in which a team could put
enough supporting talent around Durant or Westbrook for them to lead a team to the conference finals without another All-Star on the roster. That’s a realistic outcome for this year’s Rockets, with yet another former Oklahoma City star, James Harden, and no other All-Star contenders. But true championship contention would almost certainly require another star to help Durant or Westbrook carry the load. That’s the reason why Durant and James have teamed up with other stars via free agency. So ultimately, Durant and Westbrook needed each other to win with the Thunder, even if they’ve thrived individually apart.”
Chris Haynes of ESPN.com: “Round 2 of Kevin Durant’s clash with his former Oklahoma City Thunder squad on Wednesday won’t be any easier than his first meeting on Nov. 3, a game the Golden State Warriors won easily 122-96. ‘It’s never going to be a regular game for me,’ Durant told ESPN in advance of his second go-around with OKC. ‘I’m just going to play. There’s nothing serious. We got the first one out the way, and we’re just going to play the next game.'”
Anthony Slater of The Mercury News: “Each of the three stole attributes from the others. Durant was the humble leader, the face of the franchise who preached group, group, group instead of me, me, me. Westbrook was the laser focused worker, the least recruited, least recognized of the three who willed himself into stardom with diligent, repetitive work day after day.”
Durant seemed to say he’d re-sign with the Warriors.
Berry Tramel: “And the last several collective bargaining agreements have been touted as documents that would keep superstars in their current environments. None did so. So now league-wide intrigue centers not so much on playoff seeding, or what could happen when the postseason arrives, but on personality dramas. On Carmelo in New York or DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento or Westbrook and James statistical marvels or Westbrook vs. Durant. A third straight Warrior-Cavaliers NBA Finals seems not just possibility, but virtual certainty. Good for the league short term. Not long term.”
Cool piece on what it’s like to defend a great player in practice.
Brett Dawson: “That slight improvement over a small sample size shouldn’t suggest Kanter has conquered his defensive shortcomings. His reaction time still needs improvement. When he’s caught in switches against guards with momentum, he still struggles. But Kanter said his work with Adams has led to a growing awareness of what’s happening around him and how to react to it.”