Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
Hello again Thunder fans! I’m sure that you slept horribly last night. There’s no way that you could sleep well after the Nuggets totally creamed the Thunder at home. With the loss, it’s still uncertain as to whether the Thunder can seal the Northwest Division, much less the #2 seed. OKC is still in control of it’s destiny, but Denver holds the advantage and hasn’t lost this month.
But let’s take a look outside of our immediate bubble for a second. The Thunder are a team with very powerful strengths, but also very powerful flaws. Part of being a flawed team is accepting that some players are just going to destroy you on every single night. I’m not talking about the LeBrons of the world, who will destroy everybody regardless. I’m talking the other guys. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at 5 of the Thunder’s biggest headaches. I’m gonna need a pizza after this.
#5: LaMarcus Aldridge
Times Seen This Season: 2
Normal Averages: 21.1 Points, 47.9% Shooting, 8.8 Rebounds, 2.6 Assists
Averages Vs. Thunder: 27.5 Points, 47.9% Shooting, 13.0 Rebounds, 1.5 Assists
I know, LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star, so he should probably be exempt from this list. But his performances against the Thunder are hard to deny. The numbers above are pretty consistent over the past couple of seasons, and the reasons why should be obvious. The Thunder have lots of trouble guarding bigs who can shoot well. This was pretty apparent against the younger Dirk Nowitzki, who pretty much single-handedly destroyed Oklahoma City in the 2011 West Finals with lots of turnaround jumpers. Not only that, but Aldridge has an excellent back-to-the-basket game. This would be fine and dandy if he was going against Kendrick Perkins, who’s really solid at holding his ground. But against the more wirey Serge Ibaka, he’s able to back into him and create more space, thus creating more scoring opportunities. If Aldridge was playing power forward on a more competitive team, he’d be public enemy #1 in this town.
Hello again Thunder fans! This week, I greet you with a tinge of sadness. After a 5 game win streak and improved play that could have sent the Thunder to the top seed in the Western Conference, they fell short at the finish line, losing to San Antonio on Monday. But this isn’t the first time our Thunder have disappointed us. I know, it’s hard to be disappointed in a team that has blatantly overachieved every season. However, disappointment is a natural part of being a sports fan. And ultra disappointment is a natural part of being a Oklahoma sports fan, no matter how well your team has done previously.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of some of the Thunder’s biggest disappointments. Keep in mind, I’m not trying to be hard on the team. It should be evident from the list that we don’t have a whole lot to whine about. Also, losing James Harden/Jeff Green is exempt from this list, because we all know how we feel about those events.
5. The Blimp
This blimp is LAME! I understand that having a blimp in the arena is cool, but blimps should serve three purposes. 1. To give away awesome prizes. 2. To provide pointless aerial coverage. 3. To accidentally crash into something. This blimp has done none of those! Now, before you talk about how the blimp drops these little cards, I know it does. But those cards give you some lame prize. I saw someone get something from it once, but it was so incredibly underwhelming that I can’t even remember what it is. Darn this blimp! Crash into something already!
Hello again Thunder fans! It’s been quite the eventful week, as the Thunder decided to shake things up near the trade deadline. As expected, Eric Maynor was traded away. Apparently he still wanted to be a part of the team, but because he refused to go down to the D-League, the Thunder were miffed and wanted somebody else. He was eventually dealt to the Trail Blazers for a trade exception, a long-forgotten European prospect, and some cap room. With that cap room, the Thunder did two things. First of all, they traded their second rounder next year for Ronnie Brewer, a defensive wing from New York. Second of all, they re-signed the living fossil known has Derek Fisher, for reasons that no one can possibly understand.
Sure, there’s a whole Bricktown’s worth of economic stimulation and pages and pages of recognition from major media outlets covering the Thunder’s run of cultural dominance in Oklahoma City. But I’m pretty sure I speak for all of us when I ask why the New York Times and Los Angeles Times aren’t willing to tackle the big questions, like What effect has the Thunder’s success made on Oklahoma City’s public rap game recognition?
Prior to 2010 or so, hip-hop stars (and hip-hop B- and C-listers) name-checked OKC with about the same frequency that they name-checked professional bowlers*, but Kevin Durant’s three-year grip on the NBA scoring title’s drastically increased that output. Rappers who rely on the Internet for self-promotion are notorious trendjackers and rappers rapping about the NBA (and NBA players rapping — remember Shaq Diesel? And Shaq Fu: Da Return?) aren’t exactly at the forefront of their field. But it’s pretty new to us in flyover country to hear something about the hometown over a beat and not an acoustic guitar, so I’ve put together this playlist-icle of rap songs I found in a few hours spent wading through YouTube, RapGenius, and the endless bog of rap blogs that name-check anything Thunder-centric. And yes, I was just as amazed and delighted to hear Hasheem Thabeet’s name in a rap song as anybody.
(The above video is 100% rigged!)
Hello again Thunder fans! For those of you who don’t know, the NBA trade deadline is coming up this Thursday. As such, the trade rumors are flying around like crazy. If you looked at a NBA rumors site right now, you’d be convinced that the Thunder were about to trade Durant and Westbrook for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael Jordan, the rights to Nenad Krstic, and a 2056 first round draft pick. Luckily, that’s what I’m here for. Here’s the lowdown on some of the rumors that have been floating around lately.
The Thunder Trade Eric Maynor to Utah
If any player is to move, by far the most likely candidate is Eric Maynor. He’s been effectively cut out of the Thunder’s rotation. Moreover, he refused to go down to the D-League earlier this year, which is a huge no-no as far as the Thunder are concerned. He was almost traded to Philadelphia, but they decided to go for a D-Leaguer to solve their backup point guard woes. With his salary coming off the books at the end of the season, the Thunder are going to do everything in their power to get some value out of his contract.
Right now, the guys who have the most interest in Maynor are Utah and Detroit. With an injured Mo Williams, Utah has living NBA fossils Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson playing the point guard spots, and it’s hurt them at critical times. Maynor would be a solid answer for them, but reports are coming in that the Thunder are asking for too much. If any trade is going to happen, it would have to be a larger-scale deal for Al Jefferson or Paul Milsap, who the Jazz may be forced to trade because of salary reasons. Deals involving those players would have to include Jeremy Lamb, and they would likely include another big man with a big contract, like Nick Collison or Kendrick Perkins.
Verdict: Iffy at best. I seriously doubt the Jazz would let go of their great big man core for a bad replacement, a late lottery pick, and a temporary backup point guard. But hay, I’ve seen crazier things happen.
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