Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
It’s been a long off-season, but we’re only a few weeks away from the regular season tip-off of Thunder basketball. But before we get into what our team will do on the court, let’s take a look back at what the players did over the Summer, using absolutely ridiculous social media posts and my personal anger as your guide.
So, here’s the Thunder’s off-season from my perspective. At the close of last season, the Thunder had three players under contract (Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka) that should have played very major roles on international teams in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. I was excited, because I’m the only person in the world that really loves international basketball. Thus, I applied for press credentials and booked travel to Spain, along with travel to follow Team USA’s exhibitions. Shortly after I did that, Russell Westbrook decided not to play for Team USA. Then, disaster struck when Under Armour offered KD a lot of money, and Paul George forced KD to face his own mortality. Durant decided to quit Team USA in the middle of training camp. I was now stuck covering a team that had absolutely no relation to my Thunder-centric website. Serge Ibaka would be at the competition, but his team was staggered on the other side of the bracket, and thus at the other side of the country for the vast majority of the competition. As it would turn out, I’d never see Serge Ibaka play live.
So, how was Serge Ibaka’s 2014 FIBA competition? Well, I’d say it can be effectively summed up in this picture:
This image, and all images below, are courtesy of William Bennett Berry. Seriously, Czech him out.
It’s been another great week of basketball as the Thunder cruised past the Bucks and mounted yet another fourth quarter comeback, this time against the Nuggets. There’s nothing really strange going on, so here’s some general impressions that I’ve had of the Thunder so far this season. Feel free to steal them and pretend you thought of them yourself next time you meet up with your friends.
1. There’s no James Harden/Kevin Martin replacement, but it’s not a big deal.
This might seem strange to people who have followed the Thunder for years. We’ve had an extremely rigid and top loaded scoring system for years. It’s extremely rare to see anyone but Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook at the top of the scoring list, while Ibaka and Harden/Martin would usually slide in at third and fourth, while the rest of the team toiled in the single digits. This type of hierarchy exists on every team to some extent, but very few have as consistent and rigid of a hierarchy as the Thunder do.
Hello again Thunder fans! It’s been a tough week. After a miracle win against the Wizards at home, the Thunder went out West and were narrowly edged out by two of the league’s best teams. Last night’s Warriors game was particularly tough, because an insanely epic comeback was negated by a last second shot from Andre Iguodala.
Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers was different. From the outset, the Thunder looked like the superior team. The Clippers had no defense near the rim (indeed, Hasheem Thabeet was able to score at will), they couldn’t force any turnovers, and their bench was horrible. But Kendrick Perkins’ absence definitely took a toll on the team, as did Nick Collison’s foul trouble and the ever-looming threat of Blake Griffin in the paint.
But what hurt most of all….was what you see above. After a 6-6 shooting night, Serge Ibaka was forced off the floor for supposedly balling a fist after being shove by Matt Barnes. The ejection pretty much cost the Thunder the game, as their big man reserves were depleted and Scott Brooks started giving more minutes to Thabeet and Gomes. The worst part about it is that the brawl wasn’t even fun to watch. Just a bunch of guys clamoring together and a couple of ejections. By far the best part about the whole thing were Barnes’ theatrics, as he picked up his kid and proceeded to Tweet his frustrations.
That got me thinking….what have been some of the best Thunder brawls over the years? The worst? Obviously, there haven’t been many actual fights, as they’re usually broken up as soon as they start. But there have been quite a few scuffles, words exchanged, and technical fouls. Utilizing the power of my intellect and the resources of the internet, I was able to find them. Here’s the most memorable Thunder brawls.
#5: Metta World Peace Tries to Steal the Ball After the Play is Over
This was a particularly intense moment during the second round of the playoffs in 2012. Westbrook tries to keep the ball as he falls to the floor on a rebound. Metta World Peace went after it, managing to muster up a jump ball. But after the ball was solidified, he and Westbrook kept going at it. Kendrick Perkins and Jordan Hill came over to calm things down, but World Peace just shoved them away, resulting in Joey Crawford doing his best offensive line impersonation and pushing Russ to the other end of the court. To me, that last part is easily the best thing about this play. It’s just bizarre to watch him push a man much younger and stronger than him 20 feet down the court.
Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
The leaves are falling, the wind is howling, and the earth shakes with sounds of….the Earthquakes that hit north OKC this weekend. But also, Russell Westbrook is back!!!!
Of course, the return of one of the coolest players in the National Basketball Association isn’t enough to stop the naysayers. You know, those guys who always like to find something wrong with the Thunder. Back in the day, they’d complain about how Russell Westbrook couldn’t shoot well enough. Then they complained about how he wasn’t a true point guard. Now, they’re complaining about how he’s coming back too early, and risking injury needlessly. I’m here to put a stop to all that.
Well, I can’t really put a stop to it, but this article will be a nice place to point “those guys” to. Here’s the the most up front and point-blank responses I could come up with that dispel the most common myths surrounding the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Myth: Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins are terrible basketball players.
Fact: It could be much worse.
Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
Tonight, we will embark on the 6th season of Thunder basketball, and tomorrow will mark the 8th year since the Chris Paul led Hornets hosted the Sacramento Kings on opening night back in 2005. That should make you feel old.
With tonight being opening night, I thought I would give a quick refresher course on 10 things you need to know going into tonight’s season opener. It reviews some of the storylines of the off-season and what you can expect to see from this year’s team. It’s more for a casual fan than a hardcore basketball junkie – think of it as a Cliff’s Notes season preview – but is still worth reading for the YouTube clips alone.
1. Yes, Russell Westbrook is STILL INJURED!
Yes, Russell Westbrook will be missing the first 4-6 weeks of the season, as the doctors had to go back and repair the meniscus tear in his knee. But don’t worry, the injury shouldn’t slow him down. (Here’s an interview explaining the repair, if you’re interested.)
2. Kevin Martin is gone.
Put bluntly, the Thunder knew that getting Kevin Martin would be a one year rental the second that they traded for him. If they were to stay under the much feared “Luxury Tax” and keep Kendrick Perkins, they couldn’t spend more than a few million dollars. And that money was earmarked for their new draft picks. Thus, the Thunder said sayonara to Kevin Martin, and any free agent that asked more than the minimum.
3. Kevin Martin’s Replacement is some guy named Jeremy Lamb.
Here’s the bad news: Jeremy Lamb averaged 37% shooting during the Pre-Season, and 17% from three. Here’s the good news: The Pre-Season is entirely meaningless. Case in point: Perry Jones lit up the floor during last year’s Pre-Season, and Scott Brooks insinuated that he would get 10-12 minutes a game. He never saw the floor. Also, when the Hornets were in their 2006 Pre-Season, a Polish man named Macej Lampe has something like 20 points and 10 rebounds.* But he too never saw the floor and was out of the NBA by the end of the season. So we can really only judge whether Lamb will succeed when he hits the actual NBA floor, though I’m not holding my breath for anything spectacular.
*That fact was completely stolen from Clark Matthews.
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