Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I got to the game early today. And, me being the media magnet that I am, got onto KFOR again!
Big ups to Marika Lorraine for recognizing me and interviewing me. It starts at about 4:27, and I'm shown twice. Nothing AMAZING, but still pretty awesome nonetheless. I was also interviewed by NBATV. Hopefully I'll be able to show that one too, but its a bit less substantial.
There were a slew of pre-game activities. For main attractions they had a band that did mostly 80s cover songs, a BMX show, and some country-western band which sounded horrible. On the side booths, they had bungie basketball (as Lance West shows in the video above), freethrow shooting, mini basketball hoops, and food. They had the flags of the NBA teams up, and while it looked exciting, it was pretty boring waiting around for the most part.
I finally got in to find out that Bonigi Brothers got taken over by Pizza Hut! They used to serve big slices of pizza (1/6th of a huge one) for $4, but now Pizza hut has tiny Personal Pans for $6. Ultra-Lame. I had some burgers from the Route 66 Grill, but, needless to say, I won't be eating in the arena very often anymore. At least Ben still has the world-famous Slap Shots.
Anyway, I ventured to my seat to see a pre-game performance by none other than....the C&C Music Factory. That's right, the band that made "Everybody Dance Now". And, lo and behold, that's what they played! For 10 straight minutes. I'm not kidding, a 10 minute rendition of "Everybody Dance Now". Well, it was fun!
Then, David Stern and Mick Cornett gave some words. The big moment there had to be when David Stern said, "Oklahoma City, welcome to the National Basketball Association".
Boy, did that ring true tonight. The team looked horrible out of the gate. It was tied twice at 2 and 4, but, before I knew it, the Arena was virtually silent. I looked up, and the scoreboard said 20 to 8. Welcome to the NBA!
The team kind of hovered around 10-15 behind before they fell behind by a full 20 before the 4th quarter began. They tried to give Milwaukee a run for their money, beating the deficit down to 9, but a well-placed timeout and bad substitutions by P.J. Carlesimo put the Thunder away for good.
The +/- ratios in this game tell the story. The starters for the Thunder are all in the negatives, while the bench are all in the positives. Needless to say, every single starter played horribly tonight. I saw a lot of misplaced shots, a lot of misplaced drives, and a lot of times where the extra pass could have made all the difference.
The key to revitalizing the starting lineup here might be benching Earl Watson. While he and Westbrook had the same amount of assists, Westbrooks driving actually helps the Thunder. Watson will sit at the top of the key, hardly creating any ball movement. Westbrook will drive the ball down to the post, and create opportunities for guys like Chris Wilcox, Desmond Mason, and Joe Smith. His method isn't perfect, but every indication I'm getting now is full steam ahead for Westbrook.
I wouldn't blame Johan Petro's performance tonight on himself. He needs someone to distribute to him, as he's completely inept at creating for himself. His defense was a bit off, but Watson certainly didn't help him.
Kevin Durant and Jeff Green were a large part of the problem tonight. As far as I'm concerned, I'd bench those guys from what I saw of them tonight. For the amount of opportunities they got, their production was amazingly weak. If you look at shot percentage, they weren't much better than Johan Petro (they went 5-14 and 2-7, and Petro went 1-5). These guys have got to learn to either make their shots or pass it....which brings me to my next suggestion.
Pass to the open man! There were so, so many times when guys would just go for the horrible shot rather than pass to the guy who had a wide, wide open midrange shot. Granted, these don't walways go in, but they go in a lot more than circus layups do.
Lastly, a suggestion to our coach. When a lineup is working, don't mess with it! There was about 5-6 minutes left in the game, we just made a huge run to get within 9, and he makes 2-3 different substitutions! Just because Durant and Green are your franchise players doesn't mean that you have to put them in when their backups are doing perfectly fine!
Without further ado, tonights....
Simply awesome. No big streaks, but he produced all game. Not an all-star performance, but definately a refreshing diamond in the rough tonight.
He was shaky at first, but he did a wonderful job pulling out key plays down the stretch. He was an instrumental part of the run in the 4th quarter, he served as an endless array of pick n' rolls, and he played excellent defense.
Lowballing: The Hornets banner thanking them for their support from 2005-2007 is offically gone. That's just sad and lame. It should remain in memory.
Kelvin Sampson's name was misspelled in the program as Kelvin Sampsn. IT was the only grammatical error I noticed. Tsk tsk.
Highballing: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has to have the coolest name in the NBA.
Next Game: Saturday at the Houston Rockets.
Breaking News: Bart Conner was there.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Johan Petro C Andrew Bogut
Chris Wilcox PF Charlie Villanueva
Jeff Green SF Richard Jefferson
Kevin Durant SG Michael Redd
Earl Watson PG Luke Ridnour
Teal Day featured Hugo in a Santa Claus suit, leading Ben and I to name him "Teal Claus".
But for this season opener, I doubt that there will be any winning gifts.
We prepare for a matchup with a extremely good Bucks starting lineup that has absolutely no bench. While most people are predicting that this team will finish near the bottom of the East, I and my good friend, Zach DiSchiano, think that this team is playoff worthy.
The key difference in this game will be Michael Redd. If he can get hot from 3 point range, then it's all over. Our extreme 3-point ineptitude will kill us vs. a team that shoots it well.
Richard Jefferson will struggle in this game. He's a guy who loves to slash to the hoop. He'll most likely be guarded by Kevin Durant, and on top of that he'll have to get over our our plethora of big men. He mostly thrives against smaller teams. Expect to see a lot of free throw attempts.
The main battle in this game will undoubtedly be in the low post. The Thunder have a lot of offensive minded big guys, like Wilcox and Collison who will face other offensively minded big guys, like Bogut and Villanueva. There will undoubtedly be a lot of low-post scoring on both ends, with the Thunder probably haveing a slight advantage.
The key to this game for the Thunder is tiring the Bucks out. The backups, sans Ramon Sessions, really stink. The Thunders big advantage is that for every big man that goes down, we've got 2 more ready to pick up where he left off almost as well. The Bucks only have the super-old Francisco Elson and the super-average Malik Allen. If we can keep our big men fresh for most of the game, I can forsee a Thunder Victory.
The key for the Bucks is to remember to be a cohesive unit. Ridnour, Jefferson, and mch of their bench are new acquisitions. They might have a little bit of trouble meshing together as a cohesive unit and gameplan. The first game of the season is the easiest time for a new team to fall apart, so they've got to stick together.
All gameplans aside, there will be some "celebs" returning to the Ford Center.
Our long lost Point Guard who clearly didn't want to go to Oklahoma City. Personally, I don't mind as we got Joe Smith and Desmond Mason out of the deal, but some fans might be sour. I doubt we hear more than a couple of boos, but it's something to watch for.
The former University of Oklahoma basketball coach who moved to Indiana University and called his recruits one too many times. After doing it once and recieving a slap on the wrist, he did it again, and was fired. He was shortly re-hired as a coach with the Bucks. This totally ruins his formerly all red tie wardrobe (Washington State, Oklahoma, Indiana). He made this move despite an open invitation to coach at Montana State, his first head job.
Being an assistant coach for an NBA team seems to be the place to get away from scandal. Our own P.J. Carlesimo did the same, and now everybody's all but forgotten Spree, who experienced a sad retirement and owes thousands in back taxes. So, could we see an up and coming NBA team hiring Kelvin as their head coach in 2013? I wouldn't be surprised.
Reguardless, it's been a long road to the season opener. We've seen othe blogs come and go, crappy logos coming, and Blue Blitz being ranked the #2 Thunder blog on the net. Bend it like Bennett may think that they're the best, but we really appreciate all of the fan support we've recieved.
We hope you enjoy the season, as we are really looking forward to it. Oklahoma City finally has a pro team. Wow. No half New Orleans teams, no minor league. Just pro league Oklahoma City. It's a lot to take in.
Anyway, I'm going to enjoy all of the pre-game Thunder festivities. Go OKC!
Predicted Final: Milwaukee 112, Oklahoma City 93
Side Note: The ticket to this game is completely impractical. Too big for a pocket, easy to steal. I'm having to safety pin a baggy to the inside of my jacket. Ugh.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Matt McHale: Basketbawful
Hoopinion: Peachtree Hoops
BrettL: Queen City Hoops
Darren Heitner: SportsAgentBlog.com
Gregory Broome: The Peninsula is Mightier
Ben: Third Quarter Collapse
Rashad: Hoops Addict
Mike Prada: Bullets Forever
Truth: Truth About It Dot Net
The above is required reading, as it's like not-too-soggy-yet-still-milked frosted mini-wheats for your eyes.
Lastly, just like to note that this is the 100th post of Blue Blitz. This surpasses our old blog, Adonal Obsessed, which only had 92 posts. We ne ver thought we'd get this far, and we never imagined that we'd have written 100 posts before the season even started. None of this would have been possible without you, the reader. Thanks so much for coming over every once in a while and seeing what's good. For me, personally, I only get satisfaction in my writing if someone reads it. And, since people do, I'm pretty satisfied.
Since it's the 100th post, I'd like to announce that there's something big in the works for Blue Blitz. If that was too cryptic for you: We're going big time. I can't reveal too much yet, but I can guarantee one thing: We're getting off of Blogger, with lots more features to boot.
But I've already said too much.
Have a most excellent weekend!
Friday, October 24, 2008
First of all, I'd like to remind you to vote for our blog on LA Ball Talk. We're currently in 3rd place, and we'd really like to make a move for first. Even if it's not for us, go vote! We always like to see Thunder blog excitement.
Also, I'd like to inform you that we will NOT be posting a recap for the Thunder vs. Lakers game tonight. I and Okluschen are taking the ACT tomorrow, and we can't afford to stay up doing recaps at 1 AM. Tomorrow is jam-packed too, and so it goes.
In lieu of that, I'd like to run an interview with the Lakers Nation that never got around to being posted. Their "Pre-Season Prespective" column was unpopular, and so I assume they trashed it. If not and they still need to use it, please contact me ASAP.
Otherwise, here it is. Most of the Thunder stuff has been covered before, but there's some nice Lakers and all-around NBA perspective.
All questions were asked by Jonathan Somers-Harris of Lakers Nation.
1. Out on a limb, although backing it up with solid reasoning would be cool too, what do you think the ball park for the Magic's 08-09 regular season record will be, and how do you feel they will place in the Northwest/West?
2. Again, out on the said limb, what do you think the ball park for the Laker's 08-09 regular season record will be, and how do you feel they will place in the Pacific/West?
4. Lakers fans are split down the middle on Odom; some love his versatility, others hate his inconsistency. As an opposing fan, how do you rate Odom?
5. What do you think of Kobe's decisions to put-off surgery on his injured pinky?
6. What is your perception on Bynum? Lakers fans have him pegged as the next *insert hall-of-fame center*, yet the rest of the league doesn't seem to hold him in such a high regard.
7. Kevin Durant already has his starting spot pretty much guaranteed, yet Jeff Green will still have to fight for playing time. Do you feel he should be "baptized by fire" and given the starting role, or should he have to earn it?
9. What are your thoughts on the "player exodus" from the NBA to Europe? Do you think a Kobe or a Lebron would ever seriously consider leaving the NBA?
Last Note: Just for the record, I hate the Lakers. As a long-time Warriors fan, I'm sick and tired of them trouncing us every year.
Without further adieu, here's your preview for tonight's finale, live from...Ontario, California???
Backstory: Yes, it's true that the Thunder have only had one win in six attempts. I'm not here to make things appear better than they are, but to the Thunder's defense, they haven't really been destroyed in any game. I mean, that still isn't winning, but at least it is humiliation. It's probably important to the team to end on a positive note though, at least in their eyes. if one win is 10x better than being winless, then two wins must be at least 3x as good as one. Does a win for the final game of the preseason give a team any added momentum? I don't know, probably not, but there's a chance, and as long as that chance is there, the Thunder should try to reach out and grab it.
Analysis: This always seems to come up, but it has become a major storyline of the Thunder preseason. Injuries have pestered the team constantly thus far. Just as soon as Jeff Green and Robert Swift were able to come back, Chris Wilocx and Joe Smith found their ways back on the bench. This has resulted in key players like KD putting in way more minutes than they should, though to their credit they've handled it well.
As for how the team's match-up, the talent level is far higher on the Lakers. I've given up trying to predict who and how long players will be on the court this preseason, because I always seem to get it wrong. For this game though, it matters not. The Lakers will definitely have the talent edge no matter who takes the floor. If those players happen to include Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, or of course the assassin Kobe Bryant, we could be in for a drubbing, though.
Player to Watch: This is a stretch, and I'm not saying we should be expecting Thunder Wonder status for this guy, but look for John Lucas III to have a really solid game off the bench. Remember, he's fighting for his spot on the roster, so I think the motivation of trying to make the squad means he either will be spectacular or try too hard and look terrible (hoping for the former).
Predicted Result: Lakers 101 Thunder 87
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Hmmmm, so Shaq, Amare, and Nash all played extensive minutes and Weezy didn't play at all. I think a certain Pre-Game guy needs to be fired! Aside from this though, it was just another day at the office for P.J.'s bunch...We came, we saw, we lost. I suppose players continue to develop, but it obviously isn't enough for winning, and with so many players injured, how could we ever hope to.
As soon as I saw that for some inexplicable reason Suns were starting Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, and Amare Stoudemire, I knew we were screwed. Even a Shaq who could care less about the game and, judging from his quotes, hates the idea of NBA basketball in Oklahoma, he's still 10x better than anything we could have put on the court tonight, as far as big men go. Despite my forecast of impending doom, the Thunder showed heart in the first quarter, led by KD and trailing only by one.
The fight continued on through the first half in the traditional Thunder fashion. We always remained in striking distance. Occasionally we'd get a tad behind that, but we'd always come back, never take the lead though, but always right there.
Of course, it didn't last, and the Thunder lost every quarter except the last, where we tied. Overall, everybody sucked. And I do mean everybody. Petro showed flashes of excellence and Robert Swift was decent in his debut, but both are far from where they should be. Overall, the only thing I think we accomplished in this game was hurting Amare Stoudemire. YEAH!!!
Thunder Wonder: Johan Petro, 17 points, 7-10 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Nobody deserves this, but I gave it to Petro because he hurt the team the least.
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, 22 points, 7-13 shooting, 2 3's, 4 assists, 8 TURNOVERS
All the rest of his stats were pretty great, but how could I ever give a guy with 8 turnovers Thunder Wonder???
Thunder Blunder: Damien Wilkins, 2 points, 1-5 shooting, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 2 turnovers. Damien, what happened?! You were once a prominent feature in the wonder category and now you're a blunder. Don't let it happen again.
Thunder Plunderer: Amare Stoudemire, 17 points, 6-8 shooting, 1 board, 3 assists
He gets thus, plus a purple heart for the injury. OK, no purple heart, but he was still pretty solid.
Thunder Plunderer Down Under: Matt Barnes, 12 points, 4-8 shooting, 2-3 from beyond the arc, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
You couldn't expect this from such a talented Suns team, and I hate Barnes, but after looking at his statline, I thought, hey, why not?
No wonder we suck, we're afraid of the ball
Zorgon's Note: An example of the great KSBI coverage:
Brian Davis is cut off in mid-signoff by colourbars with the text "AMV Gateway" superimposed on them, accompanied with that ever so pleasent noise. Then an Oklahoma City University commercial came on, immediately followed by the recording of an earlier High School Football game between Westmoore and Norman, with a "Thursday Night" message in the upper right corner of the screen. Classy.
Backstory: As said earlier, the Thunder have played less than 4 star basketball thus far. Granted, the number of injuries they've had have certainly held them back. Still, OKC typically plays their starters far longer than anyone else and still have only mustered one victory. Is this something to be concerned about? Sure, they haven't looked good and there's no reason to think that Kyle Weaver or Robert Swift being healthy is going to change that. Is it time to panic? Of course not! Like anybody on the court, aside from John Lucas III and other preseason acquisitions, care about what happens in the game. And aside from that, it isn't like the expectations for this team were that high in the first place.
Analysis: Once again, the Thunder will likely be starting all the main cast of characters. Look for Petro to again see a lot of minutes and likely even start. Dez Mason will probably see a good amount of floor time, as Jeff Green is still iffy. KD's play this season had been, frankly, unpredictable. At times, he's a god, at others, he gives Bricktown a new meaning.
Unlike the Thunder, don't expect to see the big names for the Suns taking the court tonight. Shaq, Amare, Nash, and Raja will all likely see no more than 5 minutes in this game, but most likely none at all. Watch out for Alando Tucker and Boris Diaw, though, both having decent pre-seasons thus far.
Player to Watch: Chris Wilcox seems like the natural choice to me. There's no real inside presence playing tonight, and Weez should be able to eat up the lanky Diaw and still raw rookie Robin Lopez. Weezy explodes, trust me.
Predicted Result: Thunder 100 Suns 91
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Also see links to all the previews at CelticsBlog.com
Also also, Rays-Phillies tonight, who ya got?!?!?!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Here's our short description of why we should be voted into first:
"We started out in the Summer of 2008, right after we heard that the SuperSonics move from Seattle to Oklahoma City was official. We had our doubts at first, but it's been a wild and fun ride. We enjoy every minute of our blogging and our dedication to getting the facts straight rather than homering our team all of the time really shows through our writing. While Zebs true alligiances lie with the Golden State Warriors, that only serves to help him in providing level-leaded, critical opinion of the Thunder. Zeb and Ben have been NBA fans for a combined 17 years, so they know how things go in the NBA, and are by no means newcomers. There's not much else to say, but we hope that you enjoy our charm and wit enough to vote us #1. The Thunderworld may be more professional, Thunder Rumblings may actually have access to players, ThunderGuru may know more about stats, and Bend it Like Bennett may be way funnier. But we....are way awesomer."
Here's the Thunderworlds reasoning:
"The Thunderworld has a long-standing, time-tested history in the NBA blog world, much like the Oklahoma City Thunder has a long-standing, time-tested history in the NBA - they’ve both existed just a few months and no one really respects either at all. But that doesn’t mean both aren’t great. Well, one definitely isn’t great right now and might not ever get there, but the other is showing some tremendous upside potential. The blog really has made some major strides in just a few months. I’ve began writing unbelievably deep, thought-provoking articles about… stuff and each day, I’ll provide a laundry list of links that include the words “Oklahoma,” “City,” and “Thunder.” Turns out, a many of adult films include the word “Thunder” in their titles. Good or bad thing? Who knows but at The TW, the link will be there for you to decide (no, not really).
Currently, the Thunder has five or six solid blogs supporting it which is proof that this area is excited about the NBA in OKC. I won’t say The Thunderworld is the best out of all, but I will say this: It is the best of all."
And, just for fun, here's Bend it Like Bennetts reasoning:
"Bend It Like Bennett is the absolute gold standard for Thunder blogs, which is why Ball Don’t Lie’s Blog Association ranks us the number one Thunder blog on the web. The rest of the pack is in a heated seven-way tie for last.
Our fellow Thunderbloggers at Blue Blitz say BILB is “generally better, more popular, and more well-liked than our blog, Thunderworld, and ThunderGuru combined.” The Thunderworld calls us “The best Thunder blog - nay, best NBA - nay, best blog period on the Internet”. We are pleased, if not surprised, to have earned the respect and undying adoration of our colleagues.
We provide highly original content that goes above and beyond the busy work of amassing links to every Oklahoman article ever like some kind of paper shuffling mid-level corporate burnout—a task that could be done more effectively by a Google algorithm. We offer only the very best in insightful Thunder commentary, and will continue to delight our loyal readers until our business model is no longer profitable. We appreciate your blind support."
For the record: Yes, I did say that. And still stand by it. But I still like my blog more!
Also, Important Things to Note:
If you voted for us, as Tim and Eric would say, Great Job!
If not, than you have about as much mind as Weezy has work ethic. Just sayin'.
Monday, October 20, 2008
So, tonight I got a small insight into how the Oklahoma City Thunder practices go. It was my opportunity to be Darnell Mayberry! I got there at about 6:15, and they were running drills. I got my pizza and Mountain Dew, and watched. There were several mini-hoops and face paint set up outside the Ford Center, and it was all free. Admission was free too, but since I got there late I had to stay behind the green railing. Eventually I was let down into the first row, but not onto the floor.
Then, all of a sudden, Mike Baldwin stands right in front of me and talks to some random people in a business type fashion. I wait for a while, but he doesn't move, so I have to move a few seats over in order to see. How inconsiderate!
Anyway, there wasn't much to be gotten out of the drills. Everybody basically did the same thing, and nobody really distinguished themselves. All the while you got to hear P.J. say things like "good hustle, Weeze!" over the loudspeaker. There was a short break between the drills and the scrimmage for water. It was pretty cool to see Chris Wilcox trying to steal some kids french fries and see Nick Collison giving all of the kids free Gatorade. Then, scrimmage started. I cheered for white, because they had Wilkins, Weezy, Petro, and Mason, but they lost both games.
There really wasn't anything substantial to take from it. The assistant coaches were miced up while P.J. Carlesimo max relaxed at mid court. The players obviously weren't trying their hardest, and several (like Joe Smith) didn't even play in the scrimmage. Durant showed up everybody, and Weezy had a nice dunk once. There were a lot of missed layups, and Russell Westbrook seemed to kind of hog the ball. Desmond Masons jumper looked like it needed work. But again, this is just practice. All will be revealed when the season actually opens.
The highlight (or lowlight) of the practice was a Derrick Byars injury. He drove to the lane hard, collided with a big man, and fell to the floor. He looked like he was in extreme pain. Everybody just kind of left him there except the trainers and Joe Smith. Eventually, a few more players came over. But, instead of seeing if he was okay, they started shooting hoops! Right in front of an injured player! They could have hit him in the head! I thought that was totally lowballin'. Then, to top it all off, I look up at the big screen, and it's showing me looking at the injury, as if they were expecting me to do some sort of dance or something. When that guy was injured, no less! Pretty surreal moment there.
After the scrimmage, Desmond Mason, Damien Wilkins, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant all paired with kids from local schools (who took up about 50-60% of the crowd, by the way) for a shooting contest.The kids were all somewhat good at basketball. Desmond Mason clanked an incredible number of shots, and his team ended up with 3 points. Damien Wilkins did fairly well, and they scored 17. Westbrooks team captured 21 (mostly due to his 3 pointers, worth 8) and Durants team scored 50, because Durant hit it from all over, and the kid hit the short shots. They then had a final round between Durant and Westbrook, and Westbrook won by a score of 40-30 (or something close to that) because he kept making 8 point 3s, which was a ridiculous way of scoring. Derrick Byars came back, but he had ice taped to his chest. He seemed fine, though. Then, P.J. gave a final word, and it was over. Some of the players spent some time meeting with the kids afterwards. And that was that.
Quick Blogroll Update:
This seems like a fan-made version of Thunder Madness. It's ad-ridden and just starting out, but you've gotta support anything that is an alternative to something run by Wimgo. As The Lost Ogle guys would say, "WTF is Wimgo?" Still, if you're into that sort of thing, check these guys out.
Or next games are Thursday versus the Suns, and Friday versus the Lakers.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Last Years Record: 20-62
Key Losses: Luke Ridnour, Donyell Marshall, The City of Seattle, Squatch
Key Additions: Desmond Mason, Joe Smith, Russell Westbrook
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
As with any bad team, our off-season moves usually start with the NBA draft. The Seattle SuperSonics began with a questionable pick of Russell Westbrook out of UCLA at #4. It wasn't totally out of the blue, but some might have rather had Kevin Love, who was drafted a pick later. Later in the draft, we selected Serge Ibaka, a Center from Spains Club Baloncesto L'Hospitalet. The SuperSonics also traded for D.J. White, giving up second rounders Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted. Lastly, the SuperSonics drafted DeVon Hardin pretty late, but before Pre-Season began he signed with an Isreali team. There's not much to say about the later moves. They made a good move in getting a potential project in White, over two worthless second rounders, and a good move in drafting someone they could potentially bring over later in Serge Ibaka. If he was drafted in the first round, he's gotta be good.
Then, there was the little move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Most of it has been said, but for the people who would still like to know, I'll give a little recap. The people of Oklahoma City really don't feel the hostility from Seattle fans. A lot of the Oklahoma University fans went up to Washington for the game against Washington University, and they didn't feel any open hostility from the people over there. Zeb has relatives who live in Spokane, and they've told him also that nobody cares. In the words of Bens second-cousin, Jackson, "You can have 'em." Now, this is doing nothing to insult the people who were actually fans of the team. In Oklahoma City, we know what it feel like to lose a team (the USFLs Outlaws, Arena Footballs Wranglers, the Hornets). When Zeb left the final Hornets game, he would describe it as "like the last night of the ABA". It's never fun, we know that it was a terrible way to go out, but you've gotta pick up, move on, and hope that David Stern decides to expand the NBA again. Or, hey, just steal another team. As for how we feel? Totally psyched. Ever since we were little kids, we'd go to minor league baseball games or play NBA Live 98 and ask our parents why we couldn't have a team of our own. Now we have one, and we plan on having as much fun as possible, even if they suck.
Lastly, we had an off-season trade. We traded Luke Ridnour in a three-team trade, and when it's all said and done, we got Desmond Mason and Joe Smith. I think that if you look at it initially, it was a trade to bring the beloved Mason back to OKC in order to alliviate the hate that will come with a losing season. But if you look at it more deeply, we also get the best player from the Bulls last year. He will undoubtedly produce late in the season and late in the game, when most of our younger guys will tend to fade. Lastly, we get rid of a guy with large ties to Seattle. He grew up in Washington and starred at the University of Oregon. Undoubtedly, he was unhappy about the move, and it's not unreasonable to think that he asked to be traded. On top of that, he's one of the dirtiest defenders in the NBA, and not many NBA Point Guards like him very much.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Most here would make a joke about how bad we are, but we've heard it all already, so I'll cut to the cheese (as in how bad we stink! like a fart or stinky cheese! haha!)
Our #1 skill is, undoubtedly, rebounding. Our lineup, quite simply is huge. Durant is big enough to play PF, but he's an SG. We have a log jam of inside tendencied SF/PFs (Mason, Collison, Wilcox, Smith, Green), and our Centers (Swift, Petro) are like sticks. I mean, we don't have a Troy Murphy like rebounding star, but we can rebound the ball simply because we'll have so many tall guys with hands in the air.
The #2 skill we have is post defense. Like we said before, the Thunder have a lot of tall guys. Tall, tall guys. But, most of these guys are defensively minded. However bad one may think Petro, Swift and Sene are, it's obvious that they weren't drafted for their 3 point shooting. These guys are defensive specialists all the way. Our Power Forwards (Collison, Wilcox, Swift) are a bit more offensively minded, but its easy to argue that they also can play well on the defensive end. Again, nobody is an all-star here, but with so many teams going small these days, having tall guys who can play some sort of defense can pay massive dividends for team that like to slash to the hoop a lot. Now, I'm not going to claim that we can stop Kobe, but we can stop a lot of And 1s and easy buckets. And if they foul out, don't think that we're afraid to put in reserves that are almost as good.
Regrettably, our #3 skill is getting to the line. We have some guys (namely Kevin Durant and Jeff Green) who drive to the basket and then act like they just got hit with a brick wall, causing a lot of ticky-tack fouls. It makes the game boring, but it's very useful when the offense is stalled, and as long as they sink their free throws, it's all good. There are others who go inside a lot, like Desmond Mason, Damien Wilkins, and Jeff Green, but they generally have the intention of actually making the shot. Still, they also get to the line.
Our last major skill would have to be mid-range jumpshots. We shoot less 3s in a game as a team than Steven Jackson does, but we're mid-range monsters. Most of this comes from Wilkins, Durant, and Green. They do it less than driving, but when the mid range shots actually start going down, it's oh-so-sweet.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The #1 weakness is just lack of overall talent. Our Team revolves around Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook. Those guys are all young, and not ready to be stars. Aside from that, we have Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, Desmond Mason, Joe Smith, and Earl Watson....do you see a star here yet? While all guys have their respective skills, none of them have what it takes to lead a team or be a 20 point scorer every night. In a couple of years, sure, maybe Durant could do that....but right now, he doesn't look like Chris Paul.
The #2 weakness is the fact that we have no true point guard that can lead the team. Okay, we have Earl Watson, but he's no great distributor. Mostly he just passes off to the other guys and hopes that they can create something on their own. He is supposed to be able to shoot 3s, but nobody creates opportunities for him, and I haven't seen anything from him yet. As Royce, from the Thunderworld, once said, "he has backup PG written all over him." Russell Westbrook is more of a slasher, and is better suited to a shooting guard role. Sure, he has maybe 2-3 "great" passes per game, and people will remark on how he could be our next PG, but in the end it amounts to less than 5 assists. You can't have that on your starting PG. John Lucas III might make the roster, but he's more of an overall energey guy, and definately not starter quality. Now, some would say, "Why not just have Durant bring up the ball, and then rely on Westbrook to slash or Watson to shoot 3s?" Well, first of all, Watson is no Derek Fisher, and Westbrook is no Monta Ellis. They aren't good enough at their respective skills to have your star SF bring up the ball and just dump it to them when needed. Secondly, Durant is no Kobe Bryant. Even if he does reach his potential, he will never be Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. He's more of a Grant Hill....without the passing. Its hard to find a comparison. He can't create for his teammates very well, and most of the time he'll either try to drive to the hoop and get fouled or take a fadeaway midrange jumper with two hands in his face and clank it. He needs someone to create these open mid range shots or open lanes to drive for him, he can't create them on his own like Kobe or T-Mac can. And there's the fact that he can't shoot 3s. I know, sometimes he'll fire thme up at the end of games, but so does Kevin Garnett. We need a true point guard to really unlock the potential of all the midrange shooting and driving that we have.
Our #3 weakness is our lack of 3 point shooting. Some people put this as #1, but it's not a nessessity for teams to survive. Nevertheless, it is a weakness. The few guys who can shoot the 3, Watson, Wilkins, and to some extent Durant and Westbrook, are average at best. More importantly, no one gives them opportunities, and it doesn't look like Carlesimo gave them the green light to shoot many. Our team looks like it's from the early 1980s, when the 3 point line was just added. We continue to either go to the hole or shoot midrange, and avoid the line for the most part because nobody can shoot it. Most of the time, our scores will reflect this philosophy. The point that this weakness will effect us the most is late in games when we need to catch up and rely on Durants shaky long distance shooting. When we gave Ridnour away, no matter how good the social implications, we knew that we were saying goodbye to our only semi-reliable long distance weapon.
#4 is the fact that we have no offensive productivity. Just not that many guys are very good offensively. It's been said that the Thunder have to rely a lot of midrange shooting and inside play, but most of that comes from a select group of guys. We have a remarkable number of near useless, unskilled big men (Petro, Swift, Sene, maybe White) who give little to no productivity, meaning that we can't always have everybody be a scoring threat on the floor. And while we have other guys who can score, with our lack of PG to move them around, the Thunder are usually stuck shooting a lot of bad shots and driving the lane at bad times.
And our last major weakness is just how young our team is. Our only grizzled vets are Joe Smith, Desmond Mason, and Earl Watson. After them, we have some semi vets in Collison and Wilcox. And after them, the guys we have are still pretty young. It gives the title of the blog "Third Quarter Collapse" a whole new meaning. It's been said many times that if the NBA game was 3 quarters long, we'd see a lot more upsets. That will definately be true for the Thunder this season.
4. What are the goals for this team?
On the court, this team has absolutely no expectations. Almost everybody predicts them to finish dead-last in the West. Player-wise, we are looking to develop everybody. If we can find a star out of the blue, like David West was when the Hornets were here, we'd consider it a successful season. We're not looking to put a win-loss total on the Thunder this year. We just expect them to go out there, try their hardest, and have some fun.
5. What do you think of the Thunders Logo?
6. What do you think of the new uniforms?
Not much. To Zeb, the road uniforms look like the teal Pistons uniforms of the 90s. To others, they look like light-blue knicks uniforms. The home uniforms look a lot like the Warriors uniforms, and they are almost a mirror image if you look at them both above the team name. But the important thing to note here is that if you look at them design wise, they look like....the Hornets old uniforms. And who changed their uniforms this season? The Hornets! Conspiracy? Probably not. Reguardless, our uniforms suck, and Oklahoma City just looks crowded on the roads. High school teams have better uniforms. On top of everything, they had to include the incredibly gay logo on the back of the shorts, right on the butt crack. Who the hell wants to see that? I mean, comeon!
7. Who killed Thunder the Mascot?
Chris Cohan killed him, not Clay Bennett. While it is apparent that after the Thunder copied the Hornets, they decided to also copy the Warriors, Cohan wanted Thunder gone for a long time. He's been looking to change the logo for a long time from the Thunder styled logo to the flying W, but it costs $500,000 and he's too much of a cheap skate to do it. This was just an excuse to finally get rid of him. Still, Zeb thinks that he was the awesomest NBA mascot, and he'll always miss the muscley greatness. Lets bring him to Oklahoma City! Start a movement!
8. The Thunder have a plethora of project big men from a previous era. On a case-by-case basis, do you feel any of them are worth keeping around, or are they a waste of space?
You could put them in 2 groups. The first, "Like to Keep", consists of Collison and Wilcox, while the second, "Show me something or we'll cut you" consists of Sene, Swift, and Petro. Joe Smith doesn't count, since he's new.
9. Jeff Green was overshadowed by fellow rookie Kevin Durant last season. What role should he play for this team? Should they rely on him as a starter right away or continue his development on the bench?
Jeff Green should basically be our key sixth man. He's definately a good player, but his talent level at this point doesn't warrant playing him or somebody else out of the position to put him in the starting lineup. While Durant is now playing at SG, the general feelings of us at Blue Blitz is that he should be put at SF, and the team should allow someone like Russell Westbrook or Damien Wilkins to play SG, leaving Watson and Lucas III at PG. It just makes more sense than having a bunch of huge guys on the floor and forcing them to create for themselves. It would just be a lot better overall if the Thunder could trade a couple of big guys for a solid PG. With our current log jam though, it's obvious that Jeff Green is going to be starting for some time, unless Desmond Mason or Joe Smith step up to take it away from him.
10. How secure to you feel P.J. Carlesimos coaching job is after this season?
If this were a normal development team, this year would be still kind of a honeymoon period. But since this is Oklahoma City, it's not. Carlesimo plays a slow, plodding brand of basketball that scores very few points. To Oklahoma fans, if you're not winning, that's suicide. Even when Kelvin Sampson was doing well coaching the Oklahoma University basketball team, people would call for his head. When Billy Tubbs, a very fast-break minded coach, coached the same team, he could do no wrong in the eyes of fans. So, unless P.J. wins at least 30 games this year, we'd think that public opinion of him would push him very close to being ousted, albeit unfairly. Still, hopefully management will not give in to the requests of fans and keep him on at least through next season. If there was a guy who could coach a team of mostly big men who can't shoot 3s, it's this guy. Even without this situation, NBA coaches generally have extremely short lifespans unless you're named Sloan, Riley, Karl, Jackson, or Nelson. Mike D'Antoni and Avery Johnson were both fired shortly after being coach of the year, and Sam Mitchell is on the hot seat after doing the same, so that's got to say something.
11. How do you expect attendance to be like this year?
We'll pack the arena at first, but when the team starts losing games, less people will want to come to the games. Still, we'll never reach a low like Atlanta used to. We'd say it'll reach a low af maybe 10,000 for those snoozefests against the Clippers, but people will still pack the Arena for matchups against teams like the Spurs and for the last game of the season.
12. Who do you expect to be the "break out" player this year, if any?
We'll disregard the rookies, since it's impossible for them to "break out" from a previous season. This is a unique situation, because a lot of the guys are in that last year where its really possible to break out before they're declared a known quantity.
Zeb would go with Damien Wilkins. He's had a hell of a Pre-Season. He seems to be the only guys shooting well from the floor. On a roster absolutely loaded with so many big men, Wilkins is gonna get a lot of burn at SG. If he can really exploit his ability to score without having to go to the line, improve his defensive ability, and become the teams one reliable 3 point shooter he'll look really really good this year.
Ben's going with Wilcox. For years he has had the reputation of not bringing his all to the games and not leaving it all on the court. However, new city, new crowd, new uniforms (albeit ugly ones) could inspire more passionate play from the Thunder big man, which would be key to any sort of winning they hope to achieve this year. I mean, he was "Sleepless in Seattle", but in OKC, there's nothing to do but sleep, so he'll be plenty rested for those home games.
13. How long before we can expect this team to be a playoff contender?
According to Jim Traber, local afternoon radio host on WWLS The Sports Animal, 2 years.
According to Ben, we could be waiting a little longer, possibly 4 or 5 years. We're soo far from being anywhere near the playoffs right now and I have legitimate concerns about being able to draw in big name free agents to OKC. I mean, for the most part we'll be ok, don't get me wrong, but we're not signing anyone thats going to make us contenders right away, and hell, you can just forget about D-Wade and LeBron in the approaching free agent mega sweepstakes. Still, if we give the young players time to develop, we may be able to have our own homegrown playoff team. With some trade help and lower profile free agent additions, of course.
According to Zeb, this season. The NBA is a league where over half the teams make the playoffs, and a league where teams with horrible rosters, like the Hawks and Warriors, can challenge ginats like the Mavericks and Celtics. Granted, we shouldn't think about the regular season conference or division crown in a realistic sense. But the sky's the limit, and every team starts with the same amount of players, the same amount of game to play, and the same record: 0-0. The playoffs are possible every season, and that's something that is so magical about the NBA that is never realized in the NFL and MLB.
According to Jim is a horrible show.
14. Do you think that the Tulsa 66ers (The Thunder D-League Affiliate) should be used as a serious farm team?
It was a good idea for Clay Bennett to purchase them. Socially, it solidifies the connection between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, making the team moreso of an "Oklahoma Thunder". They should definately be used kind of like the Los Angeles D-Fenders are. They should try to run the same type of offense that the Thudner do. If you've got a Don Nelsonesque guy coaching up there, it's not going to help your team that much. But if you've got a guy doing the same thing we're doing here in Oklahoma City, you can find a guy who thrives well in the system and potentially get a really solid backup. Or, if we're lucky, we could find a star. Still, don't expect too much from it. The NBA is not baseball yet.
15. Who do you think on the team is most likely will throw the wildest parties that Oklahoma City has ever seen?
Ben says that it will be Robert Swift, because he looks like the ultimate party type. Kevin Durant has the most bucks to make spectacular parties, but I see him as more of a small posse kind of guy. Ain't no party like a Petro party! Masons got a family, and he's an art kinda guy, and not even in the drug sort of way. Wilkins is hard to define by just looking at him. Zeb says that it will be Joe Smith, because he's obviously most experienced with partying. I mean, what do you expect he did all of those years in the NBA at all of those different cities he played for? Had massive parties, of course! We would say Weezy, but he's too laid back, and he seems like the type of guy who would hang around in the back and use his silky smooth saxophone to woo the ladies.
Predicted Record: 17-65
Have ESPN? Love the NBA and Bowling so much that you couldn't wait to see them collide? Well, look no further!
The Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational presedented by the brands of Ebonite International will air this Sunday, that's right, this Sunday, at 1 PM EST! ESPN thinks so highly of this event that it would run it in direct competition to the NFL! I mean, you can watch NBA Stars such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, and Rudy Gay! Who cares that the tournament was actually run September 20th?
Well, at least it will be better than Steve Garveys Celebrity Billfishing Tournament....that wasn't for charity.
If you've never seen Cheap Seats, you need to watch that.
Oh, and it's totally awesome that Chris Paul is doing this for charity and everything....it's just probably going to turn out hilariously bad on TV.
I know that all of you at home are counting down the seconds until tomorrows Thunder NBA Blogger Preview is up. And we blew the roof off. I mean, we didn't do this thing halfway, we went full throttle to create the end all be all statements for nay possible burning questions you may have about the Thunder.
But, here's the Central Division Previews to tide you over:
Tom: Indy Cornrows
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Thunderworld Recap
Tonight was a night of bad jerseys, bad play, and badass dancing.
When I went to the Ford Center around 5:45, there were more people there than expected. That was good, but what was not good was the fact that there was absolutely nothing to do. It was completely and totally boring. They had the typical food from the World-Famous Slap Shots, and they had the typical lottery stuff, but aside from that everything seemed kind of lame and last minute. There were no activities or anything. There were no signs in the stadium, very little overall theme, and the floor simply read "Ford Center". Still, it's the Pre-Season, so I expect them to have everything in order in time for the Season Opener.
Almost every activity that they had was a copy of what happened when the Hornets were here. T-Shirt throwing, kids slam dunk contest, free throw contest, running around the bat and trying to make a layup, seat upgrades, and the dance cam all made returns. You name it, and it'll probably be copied by the Thunder. Speaking of the dance cam, if you saw a particularly sexy guy in a blue shirt and blue headband doing the "Apache" dance and getting more than 30 seconds of full-fledged camera time, you guessed it, it was me. (Yes, I looked like a total dork.) Oh, and every single time they asked, "Whose ball is it?", I would automatically say, "Hornets ball!!!!". I guess I'm a creature of habit.
One last side note....2 of the worst NBA uniforms were out there tonight. The Clippers uniforms have always totally sucked. The red, white, and blue looks really cheesy and bland. Honestly, I'd rather them just rock the light blue Buffalo Braves uniforms all year. As for the Thunder uniforms, we've already been over that.
Anyway, on to the game itself. The crowd seemed pretty apathetic towards the pre-game lineups, and the first quarter. The first was full of high energy low post manuvers by both teams. Then, in the second quarter, the Clippers bought in all of their subs minus Ricky Davis, and it was a sludgefest through the third quarter. The Thunder had their starters out, but they played like total crap. It wasn't a defensively-minded game, like you would see in a Spurs matchup. Rather, it was just total crappiness and sloppiness on both ends.
Well, eventually after a total sludgefest, about 1/8th the arena filed out at the end of the 3rd, with half of the remaining people seriously considering putting on their coat. Than, suddenly, the energy increased and the game got intense. Durant was hitting his shots, and everybody else on the floor was contributing well. On the other side of the coin, Mike Taylor played absolutely insane. Who is Mike Taylor? I don't know, but he was incredibly intense. He had a clutch 3 and he got a key steal for a dunk within the last 2 minutes.
Anyway, long story short, we were pretty close going into the final two minutes. Then, Johan Petro got two freethrows and missed them both. On top of that, Mike Wilks got a steal for a dunk. All said and done, we ended up down by 3 with about 13 seconds to go. Durant had a "shades of Atlanta" 3 point shot, but it rimmed out and Houston got the rebound. Ricky Davis sank 2 freethrows, and Russell Westbrook sank an irrelevant 3 at the buzzer. The whole arena was kind of bummed, but they clapped for the team anyway, and it gave me hope that we can cope with losing for a couple of seasons.
Now, for tonights....
12 Points, 6-9 Shooting, 14 Rebounds, 3 Blocks, 1 Turnover, 1 Steal
Thunder Down Under (Honourable Mention): Nick Collison
10 Points, 4-8 Shooting, 8 Rebounds, 1 Steal, 1 Block, 2 Fouls
Not particularly impressive on its own, but considering that he only played 15 minutes, he was extremely productive. Everybody elses play seems far too sloppy to include. 13 team assists?! I mean, comeon!
14 Points, 5-9 Shooting, 2 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 3 Steals
That's it for tonight....stay tuned for the last two Thunder Pre-Season games, Thursday Oct. 24th at the Phoenix Suns, and Friday Oct. 25th at the Los Angeles Lakers!