3 min read

Wednesday Bolts – Opening Edition

Wednesday Bolts – Opening Edition

Michael Lee in a roundtable for SI.com on biggest individual storyline: “Kevin Durant is the easy


choice. I don’t think that a year has been built up in which a player will be more the focal point of media scrutiny than LeBron James six years ago. In case you haven’t heard—and trust me, you’ll be reminded frequently all season—Durant will be a free agent next season and will arguably be the most coveted player to ever hit the open market because almost half the league will have the financial means to offer a maximum contract to a one-time league’s most valuable player. His visits to almost every city—New York, Los Angeles and his hometown of Washington, in particular—will be a huge event. The other storyline surrounding Durant involves his recovery from a foot injury and his attempts to regain his perch at, or near, the top of the league.”

Anthony Slater: “But it’s also hard to blame fans and followers for their concern. The last time we saw Durant in a meaningful NBA game was Feb. 19. Just 10 days earlier, he’d put 40 on the Nuggets in vintage KD fashion, nailing seven 3s and setting the Internet world aflame. The foot scare seemed behind him. But that night against the Mavericks, he could barely jog in the second half. After every timeout, he’d limp to the bench until it was finally decided he couldn’t play anymore. It’s been a long road back, culminating on Wednesday in the most anticipated opener in Thunder history. Fans, observers, pundits and just about everybody but Durant, apparently, have circled this one on their calendar for months.”

ESPN.com predictions: Champion, Western Conference, Northwest Division.

Berry Tramel: “Donovan never became the Iceman or Clyde or Earl the Pearl, but he did become Billy the Kid, the sharpshooter who led Providence to the 1987 Final Four and ignited a basketball life. The latest chapter in that saga starts Wednesday night, when the Thunder’s Donovan era begins. Only 13 Thunder games, way back in autumn 2008, have been coached by someone other than Scotty Brooks. That changes with the Thunder-Spurs game Wednesday night. And the new leader of the Thunder huddle is excited at this new stage in his life, which starts five months after his 50th birthday. Long Island. Providence. The previous 19 seasons coaching the University of Florida. Now Oklahoma City becomes the latest port.”

The Free Darko every game preview.

Albert Burneko of Deadspin: “In any case, pretty much all the things that made the Thunder so exciting prior to Durant’s lost season—Durant’s and Russ’s unmatched shot-making brilliance; Serge Ibaka’s bounce and blossoming game … uh, Nick Collison—are still in place. And now that Scott Brooks is gone, maybe they’ll actually leverage those things against each other to become something more than Durant and Russ taking turns going 1-on-5!”

Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com: “Curry kills power forwards in one-on-one coverage. Slaughters them. With his threatening shot and change of speed handle, he makes them gyrate with the clumsy self-consciousness of a dad on the Jumbotron dance cam. There are two notable exceptions, though. Serge Ibaka, who’s gotten better over the years at handling Curry straight up, and Anthony Davis, who didn’t need years to get good at it. Davis guarded Curry beautifully in their first-round playoff matchup.”

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “Can Kevin Durant’s length stymie Kawhi Leonard? Staying on a rope is important and the Thunder have a number of defensive question marks in Kanter, Anthony Morrow, and at times, Waiters. OKC can’t just show up, put up points and run the Spurs out. They need to find that defensive coil, and all of this with a new coach. Everyone who picked OKC to win the title should pay attention to where the Thunder defense is at early on.”