Brett Dawson on rising local TV ratings for Thunder games: “Oklahoma City’s local TV ratings are up 13 percent over a year ago, according to a report by Sports Business Journal. Thunder games on Fox Sports Oklahoma are averaging a 7.01 rating, third-highest for regional broadcasts in the NBA. That means that on average, an estimated 7.01 percent of televisions in the market are tuned in to Thunder games.”
Erik Horne asks four important questions about the Thunder’s stretch run: “It doesn’t seem like a given. Some of the most-desired players available — shooters Marco Belinelli and Joe Johnson, for example — are off the market. If the Thunder is going to add a piece, there are important factors to consider. First, is there a game-changing player available? There might be players bought out who aren’t on the market yet, but it likely will be challenging to find an impactful player — one who bolsters the Thunder on the wing, maybe, or a backup center — among players who part ways with their current teams. Second, what’s the cost of adding a player? The Thunder is more than $13 million above the NBA’s tax threshold. Assuming it remains there at the end of the season, it would owe a penalty of $2.50 for every dollar it spends to sign a free agent now.”
Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on the Thunder making a surge after the All-Star break: “Paul George’s rise to no. 1 option on this team is becoming more apparent by the day (his 30.0 usage rate in February is his highest of any month this season), and I think the chemistry among him, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony will continue to improve on the court, even if it means Melo will begrudgingly take fewer shots. OKC is only two games out of third place in the West, and it has already shown it is talented enough to beat Houston and Golden State on a given night. Welp. I’ve talked myself into the Thunder.”
Grant Hughes (B/R) picks the Thunder as the team the Warriors want to avoid in the first round of the playoffs: “Andre Roberson’s season-ending injury means the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have the roster they built this past summer—the one that so many lauded as like-sized, long and tenacious enough to give the Warriors fits. No matter. OKC is still the no-brainer selection here. Everybody has the blueprint for beating the Warriors, but the Thunder remain the team best equipped to execute it: overplay Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the perimeter. Grab, hold and pressure them relentlessly. Deny handoffs up top. Dare the gaggle of non-shooters occupying Golden State’s support roles to fire away from deep. Those tenets have resulted in two double-digit Thunder wins against the Warriors this year, and they portend an exceptionally difficult playoff series.”
Anthony Davis says he’s taking a Westbrookonian approach to life without DeMarcus Cousins: “You kind of have that Russell Westbrook mentality when [Kevin Durant] went out,” Davis said. “Russ just went out there and played, and he shot 40 shots sometimes, you know, whatever it takes to help your team win, and I’m kind of taking that approach.”
Marc Hinton (Stuff New Zealand) on Steven Adams’ reputation as Mr. Hustle: “Steven Adams’ growing reputation as one of the NBA’s premier do-what-it-takes guys has received a major endorsement with the release of league-wide “hustle” stats. The NBA has recently unveiled advanced stats figures which it calls “hustle” plays, and the Oklahoma City Thunder centre has featured prominently in a number of the categories, most notably in his ability to keep opponents off the glass. The 24-year-old New Zealander leads the entire NBA in box outs, which is the defensive play whereby a player prevents an opponent from getting to a rebound by using his body to block his route to the glass.”
Remember Steven Adams accepting a prom proposal three years too late? TMZ spoke with her: “The 28-year-old lawyer (she’s since graduated law school and passed the bar) tells TMZ Sports she’s down for a basketball game, dinner, bowling … “anything would be fun!” Myers says she initially hit Adams up because he was a young, unknown player at the time and she thought there was a good chance she’d get a response. She never imagined hearing back now! Steven … HIT THIS GIRL UP!!!”
Ben Felderstein (Sneaker News) on the upcoming release of the Nike PG2 “Home Craze”: “Adorned in an obvious OKC Thunder color scheme, its dons hairy suede on its rear quarter panel and mesh throughout the rest of its upper. Boasting a sleeker design than the PG 1, this new basketball utility-geared selection should allow the wearer to be quicker on his or her feet, as it also comes devoid of the prominent midfoot strap from its predecessor. PG-13’s signature logo can be found on both tongue tabs as well as on the left insole and heel tab of this selection. An iridescent inverse Swoosh finishes off this clean PG 2 “Home Craze” color scheme that will arrive at retailers on February 24th for $110 USD.”
Felderstein on the upcoming release of the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 “Cotton Shot”: “The next version of Russell Westbrook’s signature Why Not Zer0.1 sneaker is made in honor of his father. More specificially, this orange clad selection is a tribute to Westbrook’s childhood workouts with his father, who used to call Brodie’s nothing but net baskets a “Cotton Shot”. Doubling as a nod to his OKC Thunder, quick hits of blue are present on the midfoot Jumpman branding as well as on the spine and insole. Grab a detailed look at the Why Not Zer0.1 “Cotton Shot” below and mark your calendars for its February 25th release date.”
Nine questions to go inside the head of Steven Adams. Via @OKCThunder: I can’t decide what’s better — veterinary medicine being his desired skill, or his choice of Gordon Ramsay, Queen Elizabeth, and Freddie Mercury as the three celebrities he’d like to have dinner with.
Around the League: Inside the Dallas Mavericks’ corrosive workplace culture…. The Knicks have moved on from Joakim Noah…. The Hornets are eyeing Mitch Kupchak for a front office role…. Tiny Archibald and how former NBA stars are dying at an alarming rate…. Key story lines for the stretch run of the season.