Saturday, August 30, 2008
Apparently some worker snuck his tiny digital camera into the unpacking facility for "Thunder" gear, and it confirms our fears.
The name is Thunder, and the logo is butt-ugly. It looks incredibly generic. I mean, some might say photoshop, but it'd be impossible to photoshop through plastic. Some might say "unofficial" but the NBA logo is also on the basketball.
So, there's only two explanations from here on out:
1. The logo is legit.
2. The logo was made illegally by a local entreapaneur who is trying to cash in on the new team phenomenon.
1 looks very likely, but I'm hoping for 2. And if not that, PLEASE let this be a secondary logo.
A tip of the hat to The Lost Ogle.
Friday, August 29, 2008
10) New Orleans, LA (New Orleans Arena)
Why this would happen: It's an NBA caliber arena already and is relatively close in proximity to OKC. And hey, we borrowed their team for awhile, so why not return the favor?
Why this wouldn't happen: New Orleans barely supports their own team, which happens to be one of the elite members of the Western Conference. How can they support a new start-up team, who by the way, is terrible.
The Verdict: Would never happen, but thought I'd give a shoutout to the guys that gave OKC its start.
9) Albuquerque, NM (The Pit)
Why this would happen: Again, relatively close to OKC. Somewhat of an aura surrounds The Pit and I think Albuquerque would be supportive.
Why this wouldn't happen: OK, its a college arena, nobody cares how prestigious it is or how loud it gets when the Lobos play there.
The Verdict: Albuquerque has no real chance. Clay Bennett would aim much higher than this, I'm sure.
8) Little Rock, AR (Alltel Arena)
Why this would happen: Yeah, close to OKC. Fans probably starved for major league action, could see a lot of sellouts
Why this wouldn't happen: Alltel Arena sucks. Neither the city nor the arena is close to NBA-size.
The Verdict: Little Rock, like the cities before it, has no realistic shot.
7) Stillwater, OK (Gallagher-Iba Arena)
Why this would happen: It's in the state, fans would definitely support it. Gallagher-Iba is one of the more storied arenas in college basketball.
Why this wouldn't happen: Stillwater isn't, wasn't, and never will be an NBA city. It's a college arena and town.
The Verdict: Still unlikely, but this is the first city that at least has a chance.
6) Norman, OK (Lloyd Noble Center)
Why this would happen: Norman is a lot more closely related to OKC than Stillwater is, like a long-distance Edmond or something. The LNC has hosted a few NBA games before, so apparently it has something to offer.
Why this wouldn't happen: Come'on, its the LNC! That place is notorious for not being able to fill up. It's nowhere close to NBA ready and the concessions really suck. They've got a freaking Starbucks!
The Verdict: Norman gets in over Stillwater only because of their "extensive" NBA experience.
5) Seattle, WA (Key Arena)
Why this would happen: They've got a freaking Starbucks! OK, seriously though, I have no doubt that they would make a real strong push for the team, claiming that its only right that they keep the team while we rebuild. Big city, NBA proven.
Why this wouldn't happen: Ultimately, Bennett has the final say, and despite the heavy pressure he'd get from the city and the national media, I doubt he'd ever want to step foot in Seattle again. Plus, for all we know, Seattle fans could hold a grudge and not even show up (not that they did that great of a job of showing up back when they had a team anyway)
The Verdict: They'd definitely fight hard for it, and it would be a fierce battle, but I think Clay looks elsewhere. Small chance this ever would happen.
4) Birmingham, AL (Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex)
Why this would happen: They made a strong push for the Hornets when they were displaced by Katrina, so theres good reason to believe they'd do the same when an F-9000 twister hits Bricktown.
Why this wouldn't happen: The facilities are very mediocre and the city, from what I heard from local media personalities covering OU's NCAA tourney trip this year, is sub-par.
The Verdict: They're the first legitimate players for our team in this list. Still, they'd definitely be the underdog among cities with a legitimate shot.
3) St. Louis, MO (Scottrade Center)
Why this would happen: St. Louis has been in the NBA team market for a long while now, so they could see this as their shot to get back in The League. St. Louis is one of the greatest sports cities in the US and the arena is NBA caliber.
Why this wouldn't happen: It's not so much what St. Louis is themselves, but OKC could definitely do better than St. Louis, no offense to the arches. There are just better options out there, two of them, as a matter of fact.
The Verdict: A lot better chances than Birmingham, but I just don't think that St. Louis would really want them that bad. I'm not sure just how NBA-hungry they are, unlike my next city...
2) Kansas City, MO (Sprint Center)
Why this would happen: Brand new arena, and the people of Kansas City are starved to fill it with something other than the AFL or Big XII Tournament games. Good city, fans definitely would support the team.
Why this wouldn't happen: It's hard to find reasons against it, except there happens to be a city that would be really hard for Clay to pass on.
The Verdict: Honestly, if OKC moved here because of some tornado, I think they'd have a hard time coming back. The arena is fantastic and the city would show up in herds (thundering herds, perhaps?)
1) Tulsa, OK (BOK Center)
Why this would happen: One of the reasons Clay was able to sell David Stern on OKC was because it was a dual-market. It would be very tempting for OKC to move over to Tulsa. The fans would show up, it's close to home, and right now, their arena is better than the Ford Center.
Why this wouldn't happen: Tulsa is pretty small-ish for an NBA town and I'm not 100%sure about this but they may become the smallest NBA city. And, like I said before, Tulsa people, in general, hate OKC.
The Verdict: Though I secretly hate to see anything good happen to the city of Tulsa, I have to say that this is the most likely destination for OKC to be displaced for a season or two. Really, it's kind of a two-city race between Tulsa and KC with St. Louis and Birmingham in the mix.
Also, OKC logoed gear was moved by the crate-full into OKC and the Ford Center today. A reminder, we are days away from the logo being revealed (Sep. 3) and we will let you know ASAP what the team name, color scheme, and logo is, so stay tuned.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Via the Lost Ogle:
The Magic have released some of their ticket plans for the season, and, apparently, the "Half Howard Plan" lists our team as the Thunder.
Now, this indicates one of two possibilities:
1. The "Thunder" have made their name known to other teams, and the Magic really don't care about confidentiality. Or they may have accidentally released them too early.
2. The other teams really don't want to call us "the city" and are using the Thunder as a standby.
I'd think that judging from the Hornets refusal to give the "City" their ticket information, #2 is the more likely option. Also, judging from how other teams sites are still calling them the SuperSonics, #2 seems almost like a foregone conclusion.
Nonetheless, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be Thunder, either.
It's fun to hear inconclusive information, isn't it?
EDIT: The Magic have changed it from Thunder to Oklahoma City....it's looking incredibly suspicious at this point. Either they didn't want to arouse suspicion or they actually made a mistake....still very hard to know at this point, but some people are already declaring it Thunder.
Darnell Mayberrys take on the NewsOK NBA in OKC Blog sponsored by John Holt Chevrolet
Anyway, you can rest assured that The Oklahoma City NBA Sportsblog....To the Max!!!! will have full ocverage of this event. For those of you who don't want to struggle with the other highly trafficed site or especially its annoying flash based menus in the few moments after 5 PM, we will have the name and logo up on this site as fast as possible. Shortly thereafter, we will give a full breakdown using all of the information that we can find, plus the valuable opinions of these bloggers.
Better yet, we will be announcing our new Blog name in the days thereafter, followed by a snazzy new site design and possibly a new domain. So remember to stay tuned for that....
(Please be Rough Riders!!!!)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
In today's Sunday Oklahoman, P.J. Carlesimo who was also the coach for the Team USA Select Team, said that he didn't "think that there was any question" about Durant's chances at making the next Olympic team. Also, according to the article, it says that Durant only didn't make the cut for this Olympic team because of his age and lack of experience. Apparently, all the Team USA coaches were very impressed by Durants game.
It's probably for the better that Durant wasn't on this year's Olympic squad. He fills the scorer niche, and on this most recent version of the U.S. Dream Team, that niche was not just full but overflowing. Not to say that that won't be the case for the upcoming team or the next 20 versions of Team USA, but a Kevin Durant 4 years from now could potentially be just as valued as any of the members of the 4-headed monster of Bryant-James-Wade-Anthony were this year.
As for the 2012 games themselves, basketball looks like it will be very interesting. Some teams, like Argentina, look as if they won't be as good as they were the past decade. However, with China's game developing and the fact that the U.K. seemingly has gotten commitments from natives Ben Gordon and Luol Deng for their national team, we could have new powers in the works...
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The Criteria for selection is quite simple.
A. The team must have played at least one game in the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area. (This eliminates teams such as the Lawton-Ft.Sill Calvalry (ABA) and the Oklahoma Outlaws (USFL).)
B. The team must have paid its players legally. (This eliminates university teams.)
C. If a team has changed it's league, it is considered a separate team. (This separates the 89ers/Redhawks and the Wranglers/Yard Dawgz.)
D. The Team must have not shared its name with another city. (This eliminates the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.)
E. If a team has two logos (past and current) each will be graded 0-5. (Think Old and New Blazer Logos.)
So, this leaves the following teams:
Oklahoma City 89ers
Oklahoma City Ballhawgs
Oklahoma City Blazers
Oklahoma City Cavalry
Oklahoma City Coyotes
Oklahoma City Dolls
Oklahoma City Lightning
Oklahoma City Stars
Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz
Both the name of the team and its logo will be graded on a scale of 0-10. The combined score will result in their rank. Without Further Ado, here are the rankings!
T10.Oklahoma City Dolls
All-Woman American Football League
For a team trying to overcome feminine stereotypes in an incredibly conservative state in the late 70s, could you have a more insulting name? The Logo wasn't much to look at, either. It was just a picture of a woman in a football uniform. Could you get any more unoriginal? Still, for such a low-budget team back in the 70s, the drawing is pretty good, which salvages the only points that this team gets. Still, congrats to them on getting Oklahoma City its first ever Semi-Pro title in 1976 (well, a tie for a title) and real titles in 1978 and 1979.
T10.Oklahoma City Ballhawgs
ABA (Post 2000 version)
This team played one game before folding, not much unlike other ABA teams. Their logo and name were also ABA quality. The name actually opposes teamwork, and compares the players to one of the sloppiest members of the animal kingdom. The logo is also bad, depicting a hog grabbing a ball....about to hog it. Still, its decent artwork gets it a 3. Just....bad.
T8. Oklahoma City Coyotes
RHI Roller Hockey
This team failed miserably, and so did its respective roller hockey league. Reguardless, it did play some games, so here goes. The name is pretty good, but it's also used heavily. Still, it's arguably one of the better heavily-trafficked names. The logo largely follows the "cartoon" trend of 90s logos, and it's far removed from those Dallas Cowboys Tazmanian Devil shirts that I used to see as a kid. It looks good, but the style just looks ripoffy. Overall, a 4 seems appropriate.
T8.Oklahoma City Stars
Central Hockey League Team
The precursor to the Blazers didn't do well in the logo or name department. Stars is often used for bad universities and kids soccer teams, but not for professional teams. It's a pretty bad name, anyway. Whats a star going to do? Sit there? Provide warmth? The logo doesn't get much better. The text, while cool at first sight, is a complete ripoff of Star Wars text. Don't tell me that it was before Star Wars was made, because I won't listen! The Star is almost an afterthought, and could have been drawn by a shaky-handed math loving Russian. Still considering the time period (late 60-mid 70s) it does alright.
7.Oklahoma City Lightning
National Womens Football Association
Certainly better than the Dolls, but nothing is particularly impressive here. The Lightning is about as unoriginal as Wildcats. Boring. But the colour scheme and drawing of the logo are professional grade, especially if you consider how low on the chain womens football is.
6.Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz
Arena Football League 2
Our AFL2 team is kind of a dissapointment after losing the Wranglers, but Oklahoma City fans can cope. The name is completely ridiculous. So ridiculous that in fact, it has a certain charm. It's better than calling it "Bulldogs" or "Dogs", that's for sure. The logo tries to be gangsta or something, but it looks better than most generic "Bulldog" logos. Overall....I miss the Wranglers logo.
T4.Oklahoma City Cavalry
Continental Basketball Association
A team that existed for some time throughout the early to mid 90s, they finally won a league championship in 1997....and then disbanded. The new incarnation continued the winning tradition by winning the CBA championship, but they play in Lawton, so they don't count towards our list. The name is pretty good and has multiple meanings. "Bring in the cavalry!" comes to mind. But, it has a fatal flaw in that it is shortened to Cavs, which coincidentally was also the name of the Cleveland Cavaliers of that era. The logos were also very similar. The flame of the Cavalry logo kind of separates it, but it doesn't get away from the fact that this team had an identity crisis.
T4.Oklahoma City 89ers
American Association Minor League Baseball
This was our main baseball attaraction throughout the 60s-90s, before becoming the Redhawks after moving to the Pacific Coast League. Still, never have I seen such a discrepency between the name and the logo. The name is excellent, exemplifying Oklahoma history and taking off of the 49ers schtick. But the logo is bad. I mean, the text is okay, but where's the mascot? A baseball diamond? Just yuck all around.
3. Oklahoma Redhawks
Pacific Coast League
The Redhawks were the "continuation" of the 89ers, and they got a new logo and name to go with their shiny new ballpark and new league. Their new name is okay, but arguably a de-provement over 89ers. It's really just a variation of "Cardinals" or "Redbirds". The Logo is pretty clever, incorporating an O, an R, and a redhawk logo. It loses points for putting a uge hole inside of the bird. They're getting a new logo soon along with adding "City" to their title, but they weren't fast enough to make this list.
2. Oklahoma City Blazers
Central Hockey League
Old Logo: 5
New Logo: 1
The Blazers were arguably the main attraction of Oklahoma City sportsfans throughout the 90s, and early 00s, but once they got a taste of the NBA, the Blazer attendance was never the same. Still, they did have a great name. Blazing isn't exactly original, but it's a good name overall, and I suppose it meant blazing as in fire rather than blazing as in trail blazing. The original logo was really awesome, and exemplified the best of 90s logos. The new logo was just an overreaction of our state capitol becoming the 49th state capitol to get a dome. Today, it looks extremely dated.
1. Oklahoma Wranglers
Arena Football League
Our Arena Football team for the two seasons before Arena Football actually became popular. Reguardless, we all have fond memories of the Wranglers, and their name and logo were extremely great. The name is original and relates somewhat to Oklahomas cowboy culture, without being absolutely rediculous. It loses points for encouraging sterotpyes of Oklahoma, though. Also, what is so great about Wranglers themselves? It also clashes with the brand of jeans. The logo is equally excellent. It shows a stylish detective type guy on a horse wrangling the W in our sleek maroon text. Pro-League caliber, right there.
Okluschen has his own take on these rankings, and his on brand of witty comments below:
T-1. 89ers- very nostalgic to long-time OKC natives. Classy,
T-1. Yard Dawgz- I like it. It's original, intimidating
(for lack of a better word), and fun all at the same
3. Redhawks- Redhawks replaced the classic 89ers well.
Theres not much like it out there, and its cryptic. 8.5/10
T-4. Ballhawgs- kinda humerous to look at. I like seeing that
they're not taking their team too seriously. Still, I think they
could have done more. 8/10
T-4. Coyotes- I love the coyotes logo, and the idea of a
rollerhockey team even more. 8/10
6. Lightning- Not bad at all. Doesn't spark (pun not intended)
with originality, but neither does the nickname. 7/10
7. Blazers Puck- Grew up with this one, and love it; classic. 5/5
Blazers Dome- What do domes and blazers have in common?
8. Wranglers- Not too bad in my opinion. A tad collegeish. 6/10
T-9. Stars- What is there to say? Did a proffesional do this
T-9. Calvary- Uh, not that original really 3/10
11. Dolls- Doesn't even look like a logo, more like a saturday
evening post cover. A girl running? Maybe if she was hot. 2/10
What are your rankings? What do you think is the best logo?
Vote in the Poll, or post a comment below if you'd like.
Addition of The Lost Ogle
Okay, I know it's not a NBA OKC blog, but one of their founders hyped up one of our stories on BallHype, and it is quite entertaining. A must read for any Oklahoma City dweller.
Addition of Oklahoma City Thunder Forum
They kinda jumped the gun on their name, and activity right now is at a low level, but they have a very useful news forum bot, and it's a better place for discussion than here.
Also, more Donyell Marshall Obsession. Thanks to Susan for the link. It's awesome to know that he doesn't squander money, and hilarious to know that he refuses to pay for hotel phone costs.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I'm really hoping that it will come across soon....we at the blog also have revealing to do of our own. Although nothing major, we need to come up with some sort of creative nickname. What? You didn't think that "The Oklahoma City NBA Sports Blog....To The Max!!!!" was permanent, did you? The name and logo for our blog will be so amazing and fantabulous that SB Nation will HAVE to pick us up. I'd like to have our own webpage, but the combined HTML skills of OKLuschen and I amount to nothing. And it's the writing that makes the blog, isn't it?
Anyway, I'm Bart Conner, and I hope you're enjoying the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, right here on Oklahomas NewsChannel 4!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Reguardless, I say Adieu, Mr.Marshall. There goes my dreams of the 1998-1999 Warrior get together....
In other news, the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets have new uniforms. And, guess what....they're like the old Charlotte uniforms! Totally awesome!
Also, the Timberwolves have new uniforms, with a more streamlined look.
If you look at the new designs, it's pretty obvious that the NBA is making a return to the 90s streamlined looks in lieu of todays more "complicated" look. Some would disagree, but in my opinion this is the greatest thing to happen to the NBA since Adonal Foyle. With the new USA olympic team designs and the incredibly ugly New Orleans All-Star Game uniforms, the 00s style has reached its peak, and it's high time that things started going in another direction.
Apologies for the shortness of this post, but, lets face it, the NBA Summer is boring. Go watch the olympics, go watch some football, and get ready for the NBA Pre-Season in October. We all need it.
And one last note: Get your tickets! I'll be at the Ford Center on Saturday, hopefully season ticket prices won't bee TOO high....
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Huge news came down for the OKC NBA team just moments ago. Luke Ridnour, whom many have suspected would be moved before the start of the season, was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three team deal that also involves Adrian Griffin being moved to Milwaukee as well, Mo Williams goes to Cleveland, Damon Jones with the Bucks (he was on ESPN First Take just this morning), and Oklahoma City gets the veteran forward Joe Smith from the Cavaliers and former Oklahoma State and NOK Hornet shooting guard/small forward Desmond Mason.
Desmond Mason has had an interesting career track. Goes to Seattle from OSU first off, wins a dunk contest, the Sonics ship him to Milwaukee, then he's traded to the Hornets for Jamal Magloire to give the fans in OKC a home town boy to cheer for, then when the Hornets leave OKC he goes back to the Bucks for a season, and then finally comes back to OKC but doesn't return as a Hornet as someone might have predicted three seasons ago, but to the organization that started his career, the one formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics.
I think this is a wonderful trade. Mason instantly becomes The City's best defender and though won't be a starter, will fill in nicely as the sixth man. Joe Smith was highly coveted by the Cavs towards the end of last season where they looked to him for his veteran leadership in the playoffs, as well as being a key role player. He'll be the grizzled leader of this team now, which I thin is for the better. Not that Donyell Marshall is incapable of filling that role, but I just think that Joe Smith has already been there and done that, and I just think he's better at the grand-daddy role than a more rambunctious Marshall. I see Smith kind of fitting into that P.J. Brown role back with the OG NOK Hornets, except not as a starter.
As for what OKC gave up, I'm not missing them too much. Luke Ridnour was a solid shooter and distributor but simply could not defend, which seems to be Sam Presti and P.J.'s top concern for this team. With the addition of Westbrook in the draft, the trade for Kyle Weaver, and this acquisition of Desmond Mason, its clear that they want to turn this team into a defensive-minded one, ala, of course, San Antonio.
To truly take the San Antonio strategy into effect though, we really need the third triplet. Durant and Green are obviously two of them, but OKC still needs that one PG or PF/C to really start being competitive. Hopefully that can come sometime during the FA periods coming up. LeBron James, anyone? OK, doubt that, but still, this trade gives OKC a lot of pieces that I think will at least help them be competitive this season, though not truly any good.
As for the rest of the moves, I've always liked Damon Jones, not so much as a player, though I think he's a great shooter, but more as a personality and I think its too bad that hes going to a city where he won't be in the spotlight as much. On the other hand, I really like Mo Williams, I think its a great move for Cleveland. This gives them the twin towers of Big Ben and Big Z up front, King James, Hughes, and then Mo Williams at PG with Delonte West and Szerbiak as solid backup guards and Anderson Varejao backing up the bigs. Its a line-up I like, though I think it still won't be enough to put them over the top in the East though.
Speaking of Zorgon, Zorgon's Note: Joe Smith and Donyell Marshall are reunited!!!! They were formerly teamamates on the Warriors back in the 90s, and they should form a dynamic veteran duo, something this team needs. If we trade for Erick Dampier and Adonal Foyle and pull Mark Price and Latrell Sprewell out of retirement, we should be in business for our starting 5.
Right now we're really in a pinch for a Point Guard though. With the departure of Ridnour, we currently only have Earl Watson. I'd expect more moves to happen soon.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The league will open play with the defending champion Boston Celtics taking on LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers and another game featuring the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Portland Trailblazers in Greg Odens premier (finally).
Also, locally, Oklahoma City will open play at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. This matchup doesn't appear sexy at first, but when you consider that Kelvin Sampson will be making his NBA debut against the new OKC team, it suddenly becomes very juicy and you wonder what kind of welcoming the home crowd will give him.
After the opener the next two Ford Center games are vs. Minnesota (yawn) and vs. Boston (hell yeah!).
Also, the Hornets return to the Bricktown on November 21 and then the two teams play again the next day (22nd) in New Orleans. I'll like to see what kind of welcoming Chris Paul and Byron Scott get here and if OKC will even acknowledge that they were once here. I for one, would like to see some sort of tribute, even if it was just minor.
Other notable dates include Shaq coming on Nov. 25 and Dec. 29, LeBron on Dec. 21, Wade and Beasley Jan. 18, the first Kevin Durant/Greg Oden showdown that has been anticipated for over a year on Feb. 6, the Mark Cuban grudge match on March 2, San Antonio March 16 and April 7, the home finale against Charlotte on April 10, and (perhaps the biggest date for a certain NBA OKC blogger I know) a New Year's Eve showdown at the Ford Center against none other than the Golden State Warriors.
I'm sure there will be further breakdown of the NBA schedule later on, but this was just a run-down of key dates for OKC this season
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I'm quite sure that all of you are really psyched for the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. While I don't nessessarily like the decision to have it in China, I'm also psuched for the Olympics. Since this is an NBA blog, I thought it would be only fair to preview the Basketball portion of the games.
First off, lets review who out of the City will be participating in the games:
Yeah, we don't have any players who will be going to Beijing. P.J. Carlesimo coached the practice squad which had Kevin Durant and Jeff Green on it, though. Sear Sene probably plays for Senegal, but they didn't qualify. Francisco Elson (who is technically still on our roster) is Captain of the Netherlands team, but if Elson is your Captain, you probably don't make it very far in international play. (He's the second best Dutch basketball player ever, next to Rik Smits.) The last international player we have is Johan Petro, who is not good enough for the French national team, which is itself not good enough for the Olympics.
Now that we have that out of the way, lets discuss format.
12 teams are split into 2 groups (A and B) who play the other teams in the group once each. The teams ending up in the top 4 of each group will be seeded into a tournament single knockout format, in which the teams knock each other out until they compete for the gold. Confused? Click here for further Wikipedia explanation.
Now, I'll break down each of the teams rosters, followed by predictions.
Group A: Argentina
NBA Players: Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, Carlos Delfino
Argentina is probaly the best South American team, and a powerhouse in international basketball. They won the gold in the last Summer Olympics, and there's no reason to think that they can't do it again with many NBA players at the peak of their prime. And don't think that the rest of their team is a pushover, either. They have many vets from Euroleague and local teams, and their roster is largely intact from their 2004 run. A certainly formiadale team that has been together for a while.
NBA Players: Andrew Bogut (Patrick Mills plays for Saint Marys College)
Contrary to popular belief, Australia does have it's own basketball league, and it is actually quite popular. Sadly, it really isn't that good. For comparison, Mark Price (my homeboy) went over to Australia to coach an expansion team (the South Dragons), and brought former teammate Todd Fuller to play with him. Fuller, considered an NBA failure with the Golden State Warriors, averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds for the team in 6 games, before getting sacked by Shane Heal, who had also just sacked Mark Price, citing "lack of work ethic". Reguardless, the Australian team used to be one of the few teams who could hold a candle to the United States "dream teams", but they frequently got beat by 20-30 points. But this is not the Australian team of old, as they no longer have Australian Legends Shane Heal (yes, the same Shane heal who sacked Mark Price and Todd Fuller) and Andrew Gaze. It remains to be seen whether the Australian team can live up to their former potential.
NBA Players: Roko Ukic (He plays for the Raptors)
This is a total Euroleague team, and a bit of a wildcard in the Olympics. To be honest, I don't know much about them except for the fact that Toni Kukoc used to be their best player. But, I wouldn't expect this team to win a medal with the extremely fierce competition that's been going on lately.
NBA Players: None
Iran has no NBA players, and no shot at a gold. Honestly, they only got in because they're the best in Asia, which doesn't say much in the Basketball world. I mean, if I played them, I'd probably get owned, but on this high scale, they don't stand much of a chance.
NBA Players: Linas Kleiza (Sarunas Jasikevicus is a former Warrior and Pacer)
A usually pretty good basketball team that is looking below par this year. They do have good players in the Lavrinovic twins, Jasikevicus and Kleiza, but they are missing a lot of good players in Zyundras Ilgauskas (who couldn't play because the Cavaliers wouldn't let him), Arvydas Macijauskas (a former Hornet and Euroleague superstar who had a back injury), and Darius Songaila (also has a back injury). There are other players I could name, but the fact of the matter is that in a weak group A this team will most likely advance, but don't expect them to get far. If you need proof, look at their 30-40 point exhibition blowout against the USA.
NBA Players: Andrei Kirilenko (J.R. Holden is a former Bucknell star who went directly to Euroleague)
After the Soviet Union dissolved, it remained to be seen if the Russian National basketball team would remain as a force in international basketball after the loss of players from Soviet Republics. Well, they certainly weren't as good as their former self, but they were pretty damn good, and this year they look better than ever. With several strong players from local Euroleague clubs CSKA Moscow, Dynamo Moscow, and Spartak St.Petersburg that won them the 2007 European Championship, this team looks to be a strong contender in the Olympics and a virtual lock for the tournament.
Group B Angola
NBA Players: None
Angola is probably the most screwed team here. They sneak into seemingly every Olympics and FIBA tournament because they're the best team from Africa, but on a golbabl scale they're pretty bad. They did defeat Panama, Japan, and the New Zealand Tall Blacks (lol) in the most recent FIBA tournament, but against most of the other teams they hardly stand a chance. Put that fact on top of the fact that they are in an extremely powerful Group A, and I'd expect an 0-5 record.
NBA Players: Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian (Wang Zhi Zhi used to play for the Mavericks, and Sun Yue was drafted by the Lakers)
NBA Players: Dirk Nowitski, Chris Kaman
This team is lead by the twin towers of Nowitski and Kaman. Historically, Germany has always had a few good players from their team, and this year is no different. Beyond the twin towers, they're good, but not great. They'll probably duke it out with China for the final spot in the tournament. Rookie Guard Bobby Brown, a NBA reject, lead ALBA Berlin to the German championship, and will be fighting for a roster spot in the NBA this year. They're really only here because of Kaman, and probably won't get beyond the first round of the tournament.
NBA Players: None
Greece may have no NBA players, but these are cream of the crop Euroleague players, and they've been playing together for a long time. They defeated the United States in the 2006 FIBA Championship Semi-Finals before losing to Spain in the finals. There's not much else to say other than the fact that they play a really good European brand of basketball together, and are cetrainly Gold Medal contenders.
NBA Players: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez (Juan Carlos Navarro used to play for the Grizzlies)
Spain is a recent powerhouse. They defeated Greece without Pau Gasol in the finals of the 2006 FIBA tournament, so this team is for real. With an almost perfect mix of NBA vets and certainly capable European players, this team looks to be a certain title contender.
NBA Players: All
Well, there's not much to say about these guys that you don't already know. The've been together for 3 years now, they're big, they're bad, they're ready to play. However, the team and it's marketing has been incredibly cocky about how certain they are that they'll win and return to the "glory days" of "The Dream Team". What do I have to say to that? Dream on. The world is good at basketball now, and they're here to stay. Hopefully they'll realize this and stop being so nationalistic.
Alright, so now lets see how they'll finish in Group A:
An easy choice for #1. By and far the best team in Group A.
Somewhat of a distant 2nd to Argentina, this team is still pretty good.
This is where the Questions start for Group A, and no one would be surprised to see any of the 4 remaining teams in 3rd. So I'll go off on a limb and say Australia will get 3rd, since they're pretty unified as a team.
Any other year, this team would be duking it out with Argentina. Still, with so many injuries, they'll barely scrape into 4th.
These guys haven't qualified for the World Championship in a long time, and usually finish around 6th-10th ish in the European Championships. I think Lithuania still has the man power to beat them.
They've had a recent run of success in the Asian Games....but that's the Asian games. With such a weak division they could advance, but don't put your money on it.
Now, on to Group B.
1. United States
This team has been together and really developed chemistry. They've played simply amazing in exhibition games so far.
I just think that this team loses to the United States head-to-head.
3rd place is something to be proud of in Group B, and this team will have chances to get revenge on Spain while also trying to re-defeat the US. They'll do neither, since both Spain and the US have improved since their last meetings.
Mark it down on your calendar: August 16th, 8 PM China Time. Why? Nowitski/Kaman vs. Yao/Yi. A Twin Towers battle of epic proportions, and it's a shame that only one of the pairs can go to the next round. Yao and Yi are probably a bit worse, but they'll get relief from jump shooting big man Wang Zhi Zhi, and have the hometown crowd on their side.
The odd team out in this group. When the groups were selected, they didn't have Chris Kaman, so that's they're fault. Once they can develop some additional guard talent, they'll make it, and they certainly could've made it in Group A.
Oh, what can I say, dear Angola? You might've had a chance in Group A, but in Group B, you're, quite simply, screwed.
So, the bracket would play out like this:
A2 Russia vs. B3 Greece B1United States vs. A4 Lithuania B2 Spain vs. A3 Australia A1 Argentina vs. B4 China
Without further ado, lets break 'em down:
Russia vs. Greece - Russia
Probably the most even matchup of the first round. Both are pretty good teams in their own right, and it will be awesome to see Kirilenko and Papaloukas go at it. Reguardless, I'll go with Russia in a slight upset. They did win the European Championships in 07, after all!
If you saw the exhibition game between these two and the 2006 FIBA game between them, you'd know that this is an old-fashioned blowout. The United States team is simply too quick and too athletic for the Lithuania big slowpokes.
Spain vs. Australia - Spain
This is another no contest matchup. Spain is just too talented for Australia. They might have a bit of a Bogut-Gasol battle, but Spains guards should easily outplay Australia.
Argentina vs. China - China
If you want to pick a big upset in the first round, here's your chance. Chinas anti-drug is swift, quick, and athletic big men (Since Yao, Yi, and Zhi Zhi are all really slow and plodding). Argentina is not that anti-drug, focusing on scoring forwards and guards. The closest thing they have is Luis Scola, who is Yaos teammate. Now, China has pretty poor guard play, which is what Argentina will most likely take advantage of. But if China can focus on total domination on the inside, they can win this game, and I'm banking on that. Plus, hometown crowd!
So, our Semifinal matchups are
United States vs. Russia
Spain vs. China
Lets break 'em down!
United States vs. Russia - Russia
Ah, the classic matchup. A lot of people are going to call me a hater for picking Russia, but this team is looking powerful. They beat Lithuania, Greece, Spain, France, and Croatia at the latest Eurobasket. This team is good. So is the United States. This game will be probably one of the best in recent memory, and I'm sure neither team will dissapoint.
Spain vs. China - Spain
And Chinas cinderalla run comes to a crashing end. Gasol domination, not much else to say.
So, we have a Finals matchup of:
Russia vs. Spain
and a Bronze Medal matchup of:
United States vs. China
United States vs. China - United States
This will probably go down as one of the most one-sided brinze medal games in Olympic history. China really doesn't belong this far up in the bracket.
And now, the FINAL!:
Russia vs. Spain - Russia
This is a tough one, it really is. They each one once against each other in the last Euroleague, with both games being nail biters. Russia is 2007 Eurobasket champions, and Spain is 2006 World Champions. This will be an excellent game, and if it does happen, I'd LOVE to see it. But, I'm going to go with Russia. Why? I don't know, intuition?
And there you have it. Please, enjoy the 2008 Summer Olympic Games!!!!
Monday, August 4, 2008
Curiosity struck recently. I wondered how the movement of a pro sports franchise from one city to another has historically impacted a team's winning the next season. I expected to find something profound, either excellent news or a death sentence for Oklahoma City fans. I found neither. However, there may be some good news for the Ford Center faithful. Take a look at the franchises from "The Big 4" that have moved in the last 25 years and how their winning percentage changed from one city to the other.
2005: Montreal Expos (67-95) to Washington Nationals (81-81) (Up .086)
1984: Baltimore Colts (7-9) to Indianapolis Colts (4-12) (Down .188)
1988: St. Louis Cardinals (7-8) to Arizona Cardinals (7-9) (Down .029)
1995: Los Angeles Rams (4-12) to St. Louis Rams (7-9) (Up .188)
1995: Los Angeles Raiders (9-7) to Oakland Raiders (8-8) (Down .063)
1996: Cleveland Browns (5-11) to Baltimore Ravens (4-12) (Down.063)
1997: Houston Oilers (8-8) to Tennessee Oilers (8-8) (Push)
1984: San Diego Clippers (30-52) to Los Angeles Clippers (31-51) (Up .012)
1985: Kansas City Kings (31-51) to Sacramento Kings (37-45) (Up .073)
2001: Vancouver Grizzlies (23-59) to Memphis Grizzlies (23-59) (Push)
2002: Charlotte Hornets (44-38) to New Orleans Hornets (47-35) (Up .036)
2005: New Orleans Hornets (18-64) to New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (38-44) (Up .243)
1993: Minnesota North Stars (36-38-10) to Dallas Stars (42-29-13) (Up .089)
1995: Quebec Nordiques (30-13-5) to Colorado Avalanche (47-25-10) (Down .043)
1996: Winnipeg Jets (36-40-6) to Phoenix Coyotes (38-37-7) (Up .030)
1997: Hartford Whalers (32-39-11) to Carolina Hurricanes (33-41-8) (Down .006)
There are reasons to be optimistic for the Oklahoma City team, though. As one can see, when the Hornets had to relocate to Oklahoma City due to Katrina, it made the biggest impact (both positive or negative) by far among any other movers in the past 25 years. I think this truly is a testament to the fans here. I mean, OKC residents probably aren't the most knowledgeable NBA crowd as a whole, but years of college fandom has made them as passionate in their cheering as any other fanbase.
Also, OKC fans can take refuge in knowing that in the past 25 years the NBA seems to be the kindest to relocating teams. Of all 5 basketball teams that changed their address, none of them deproved from the previous season. So there's no way this team can do any worse! Not that you could possibly get any worse than last season.
All in all, I think the numbers show that one shouldn't expect any miracles just because we've ditched Key Arena. Yeah, I think a slight improvement is in the works, but nothing major. Like I said earlier, its the players that make the biggest difference, and staring down this roster...well...don't worry about saving up for your playoff tickets.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Wassup. Back from the mountains now and better than ever. I had a blast and grew a mountain beard ala Jake Plummer. I hope you missed reading me as much as I missed being read. OK, maybe not...
I could rip (constructively, of course) Zorgon's list like he ripped mine, but I don't really think that's necessary. It was sort of straight-forward anyway, and I think that Zorgon did a good job except that I might have put Russ Westbrook a tad higher. What really sticks out from the list if the startling lack of talent on this team. Anytime your 3rd and 4th best players are Wilcox and Collison, you know you're in trouble.
What I'm really here to talk about though is the recent purchasing of the D-League Tulsa 66ers by Clay Bennett and the City. OKC becomes just the third NBA team to own its own D-League squad. The others...only top Western Conference powers the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.
Though I don't think anyone around here called the buying of a D-League squad, I don't think it can be called a surprise. It's common knowledge that for the last couple of years, the OKC organization has been following the Spurs path to success. They hired Sam Presti and P.J. Carlesimo from the Spurs a few years ago, and spent this last draft picking defensive and international players. Maybe, they figured this was the next step. Not that the D-League was really responsible for any Spurs rings. I think lottery luck has more to do with it, something the Seattle team was hit and miss on in the last couple of years (heres to better luck for OKC)
I think both sides win in this case, or at least theoretically. Tulsa (again, theoretically) should become more attached to the OKC now, helping with merchandising and building a state-wide fan base. However, I think it can't be overlooked that a good deal of jealous Tulsans still resent the great things that have happened to "cow town" and will insist for the rest of their lives that the BOK Center is, was, and always will be better than the Ford Center. Still, a good many Tulsans will gladly follow the Team-That-Shall-Someday-Be-Named.
Also, owning a D-League team does give the team a lot more control on the development of their players. They can do things that they know are in their best interest and sleep easily at night knowing that their developmental players are in their own hands.
Darnell Mayberry of the NewsOK NBA in OKC Blog Sponsored by John Holt Chevrolet recently interviewed Clay Bennett.
Basically, the interview revealed 3 pieces of information:
1. There will probably be a Pre-Season game played at the BOK Center in Tulsa, but more than one is a bit iffy. I hope Tulsans are psyched!!!!
2. We will have a dance team. Not much of a surprise, given that the Celtics were the last team to get a dance squad, and they did it a couple of years ago. And, there's the fact that the SuperSonics had a dance squad. But still, I'd like us to be pioneers to the fact that we don't need un-talented women to flaunt themselves on the court in order to be a successful basketball team.
3. Clay Bennett says that he won't comment on Marshalls being spelled with two ls, and that he won't comment on if the name is finalized. I really, really hope we don't have a deal going with the family clothing store.
Now that you're familiar with the players, it's time to figure out a depth chart. NBA teams are limited to 15 players on contract maximum, and must have 12 players on contract minimum. They must have 8 active (not injured) players at any time to officially start an NBA game. So, since we have 19 players, we'll need to trim this number down some.
The first, and most obvious to get rid of, is C.J. Miles. He is now with Utah, so that trims it down to 18. Second of all, we have the bird rights to Mike Wilks, but we really only signed him as an emergency point guard, and I doubt he'll get resigned by us or any NBA team. Look for him to play extremely well in the D-LEague or Europe. Now we're down to 17. Ronald Dupree is not on contract, and he played horribly in the Summer League. Nuff said, down to 16. Francisco Elson is not on contract. In my opinion, he would be a good signing, but he's not essential to the City's future, so he probably won't get signed. Now, we're down to 15, but we still have two problems....
DeVon Hardin isn't signed. Honestly, this is very little ventured. Sing him to a two year 300-400kish deal and no harm done. If you need the space, just cut him. Nonetheless, he may not be signed. I'll include him here for all intents and purposes.
Robert Swift is still technically under contract. We could extend a qualifying offer of roughly 3.6 Million. Personally, I think this is a large waste of time, since we have Collison, Petro, Sene, and Wilcox on the roster. Still, if his knee holds up, he's probably better than Sene and somewhat like Petro. If the doctors OK it, I'd bet he'll be signed.
So, now we have our 15 man roster. Lets take a look at it position by position, starting at Point Guard. Keep in mind that we must have 3 players on "injured reserve", which basically means that they come to the game in a suit and sit on the bench, praying that some guy gets hurt so that they can play. So, I'll only look at the starter and backup, so we can consider 3rd stringers later.
This one is a no-brainer. It's been this way for years, no reason to change it.
Shooting guard is easily our weakest position, which is probably why we drafted Westbrook. Wilkins will fit as a 3-Shooting Swingman, and Westbrook can come off of the bench until he's ready for the big time.
Jeff Green is valuable talent to us, so it's a good idea that we get him to start. Putting him at Small Forward with the silky smooth veteran talent of Donyell Marshall behind him is a great idea, as you have something to rely on inf Green gets a bit shaky on the 3s. Plus, PJ Carlesimo used to coach Marshall at Golden State back in the 90s, so they definately have a psychic connection by now.
Kevin Durant is easily a starter. But at power forward, you say? Well, the dude IS 6 foot 9, so he has the body for it. The only big liability here is rebounding. Right now, 4 a game simply won't cut it. Hopefully this can improve at the Power Forward position, and if it becomes too bad, you can always put Collison in. I think this will also help Durant get away from the 3 point line, while still not completely closing the option (See: Austin Croshere, Troy Murphy, Donyell Marshall when he played PF, Antawn Jamison when he played PF).
Now, this is where it will be a it hard for P.J. Carlesimo. He is definately very big-man happy, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him throwing out Sene, Swift, White, and Hardin all Willy-Nilly. But, if we want to win, it's only smart to move Wilcox up to put the best possible talent on the floor. Petro is probably the most reliable and still-promising out of the remaining big men, slightly trumping Swift and Sene.
So, now that we have our Starters and Backups situated, it's time to look at our remaining third-stringers. We have: Adrian Griffin (SG), Sear Sene (C), Robert Swift (C), D.J. White (C), and DeVon Hardin (C). Can anyone guess what we have an excess of? We can't have 4 centers on our active roster, so you kind of have to put Adrian Griffin in there as a no brainer. You know, in cae something happes to our SF-SG-PG situation. He could probably handle all 3 if need be. Then, you have to decide between our 4 centers. Obviously DeVon Hardin is a straight to D-League guy. Now, this doesn't mean we're cutting him, but rather we put him on the inactive roster, but let him develop his talent in the D-League. It also would seem that D.J. White should take this route. I know it's tempting to put him on the active roster so we can see what he's got, but he's probably better served playing for the Tulsa 66ers (our D-League affiliate).
So, we come down to what is probably our most pressing dilemma of how to allocate the roster. The descision of Robert Swift or Saer Sene. Robert Swift has cetrainly proved ha can at least ball in the NBA....but 3 injuries on the same knee leads a lot of people to arise suspicion. Saer Sene hasn't proved himself on the NBA floor, but he did share D-League defensive player of the year award honours with "Baby Foyle" Stephane Lasme. You can't send Sene to the D-League again, as he is in his 3rd year (only 1st and 2 year players can be sent down while still being attached to a team) and one team can only send down two players (we've already sent White and Hardin). Now, most would say, "Go with Swift, and if his knee can't take it, cut him and give Sene the job". But, an important thing to remember is that Swift hasn't exactly been resigned. So, the choice here is simple. If you resign Swift, give him the job and let him keep it (unless his knee fails/hinders him). If you don't resign Swift, give Sene the job.
So, you're left with a roster of:
Center: Wilcox/Petro/Swift or Sene
Power Forward: Durant/Collison/Swift or Sene
Small Foward: Green/Marshall/Griffin
Shooting Guard: Wilkins/Westbrook/Griffin
Point Guard: Watson/Ridnour/Griffin
1. Sene or Swift or Nobody
2. D.J. White (D-League)
3. DeVon Hardin (D-League)
It's not NBA Finals material just yet, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either.
Now that we have that out of the way, it's time to look at our assets. Namely, who's tradeable, and who other teams are coveting.
First of All, the Untradables:
Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook
Many want them, but these guys will be the future core of our team. They won't go unless some drastic offer comes our way.
Second of All, those who are coveted by our neighbors:
Chris Wilcox and Earl Watson
These guys shine on a statistical level, and many teams have thrown around trade offers for them. They can easily be held as bait, and should get value in return. Watson is a bit old for our team, so he's likely to go if the right offer was to come along, but I'd hold onto Wilcox if I were Sam Presti. Guys like him don't spring out of nowhere, while it's not that hard to find more Earl Watsons. At 26, Wilcox still has plenty of years to offer.
Third of All, those who are not coveted but are still tradeable for value:
Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour, and Damien Wilkins
These guys aren't nessessarily coveted, but most other teams will see them as proven NBA players, and their contracts aren't that bad. Enough said.
Fourth of All, those who are expiring contracts:
Donyell Marshall, Robert Swift, and Adrian Griffin
Expiring contracts are valuable in the sense that they're good if the other team wants a lot of cap space to sign Free Agents with in the off season, or if they have a player they want to trade to you with a big contract, and you don't have enough money in return. They all do still have a little bit of individual value, though. Marshall could be viewed as good backup talent on a veteran team running for the championship, Griffin would be viewed as a stringy but resourceful guard, and Swift could be a nice gamble. Still, their expiring status holds more weight.
Fifth of All, those who are "Failed Talent":
Johan Petro, Saer Sene
These two are considered to be NBA Draft busts, and relly won't get much of anything on the trade market, unfortunately. Keeping them is the best thing to do.
Sixth, and last of All, those who are Unknown Quantities:
DeVon Hardin, D.J. White
They are tradeable, but noone knows how good they actually are. So, they'll probably also be kept or thrown in as bonus to a larger trade.
And....that's it. I hope you have a better idea of how our lineups will be and how valuable each of our guys in trades. Who to trade for? A Center is probably what we need most, but look for them to get a young guy or a draft pick in return.
Thus, we have reached the end of the long, loong, looong, loooong series about players. Coming up next: Getting to Know The Coaches and Staff!!!!