Loud Links: Oklahoma City Thunder News for October 6, 2009

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I still maintain that I suck at gathering articles for Loud Links, but its Tuesday, and I've found another group of articles that might peak your interest. Some of them are old, some of them are new, but either way, we're just two days away from seeing this team in live game action, well, we won't be seeing it so much as hearing it on the Radio since it won't be broadcast on TV for reasons unbeknown to me. Well, anyway, on with the links.

Head Coach Scott Brooks is preparing for the first Thunder pre-season game by putting the team through game-like scrimmages. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are apparently "Ol' Guys" now despite Durant just recently being of age to legally buy beer. Hoopsworld picks James Harden amongst its contenders for Rookie of the year, as if it wasn't already obvious enough. Our Good Friends over at Golden State of Mind have labeled this Thunder teams as "The X Factors." The NBA is expanding the use of Instant Replay, just another headache to deal with should we get stuck with replacement referees all season long. With the Thunder tipping off on Wednesday against the Grizzlies, what better time than now to contemplate which team will be better this season than now? Dimemag Discusses. Sactown Royalty takes a look at the defensive prowess of former Thunder player Desmond Mason, I think we all know what he brought to this team. Kyle Weaver gives NewsOk a quick little Q&A, and the Thunder's D-League Affiliate Tulsa 66ers wind up with the 16th and 17th draft picks in the upcoming draft as well as give their fans a sneak peak at the renovated convention center downtown where they will be playing this coming season, much to this bloggers dismay.

Scott Brooks puts team through game-like scrimmages Saturday night
Veteran center Etan Thomas said he’s impressed with how hard the Thunder’s young players work, not just this past week but throughout the summer. "Guys came in (two or three weeks) early to get in extra shots, lift weights, run and work on extra drills with the coaches, work on different ways they need to improve," Thomas said. "You don’t see that many teams where they’re all back together that early."

Kevin Durant, Jeff Green ol’ guys now
One by one, Presti has parted with veteran players to clear up more minutes for his youngsters, all designed to get to this day. He started by trading Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis before Durant and Green could pull a game jersey over their heads for the first time. And he went down the line from there: Wally Szczerbiak, Kurt Thomas, Delonte West, Luke Ridnour, Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith, Earl Watson and finally Desmond Mason.

Nominations: Rookie of the Year
James Harden, Oklahoma City: Harden comes to the Thunder after a standout career at Arizona State and should slide right in as the starting shooting guard in Oklahoma City. On a team with several proven scorers at the NBA level (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and Nenad Krstic to name a few), Harden won't be anything more than the fourth option on most nights but his feel for the game and ability to catch and shoot should translate into immediate dividends for the Thunder. While he likely won't wow anyone with eye-popping numbers, Harden should have a solid rookie campaign.

Around the Association: 2009-2010 Oklahoma Thunder: The X Factors
Honestly, I have no idea what to tell you about where this team can go. Lord knows how much work went into forming a better cohesiveness among the core talent that will hopefully propel them above their inaugural record of 23-59. This is a team that is simply in the start of rebuilding since they peaked as the Supersonics in 1996 by losing against Jordan's Bulls. Don't feel too bad for them. They've still been to the Playoffs more often that us during that time. (That's a hard feat to overcome, isn't it?)

N.B.A. Expands Use of Instant Replay
Referees will be able to use replay at any point in a game to determine whether the shot clock expired before a shot was released or before a foul was committed. Replay may also be used in the final two minutes of regulation (and the final two minutes of an overtime period) to determine which player last touched a ball that goes out of bounds.

Memphis or OKC: Who’s Better?
Two teams that are going to force a lot of people to buy league passes this season are the Thunder and the Grizzlies. I can’t say for sure whether either will be playoff teams (most likely neither), but I can promise that they will both be exciting to watch. Even though Memphis and OKC stole franchises from the beautiful northwest (my former stomping grounds), you better believe I’ll be strapped to the tube watching those teams all season long.

On Desmond Mason's Defense
 Last season with OKC, Mason had an unadjusted defensive plus-minus of -3.27, which means the Thunder's defense was 3.27 points per 100 possessions better when Mason was on the floor than when he was not. Unadjusted plus-minus is a bit tough to take, which is why we have adjusted plus-minus, computed by various folks but made exceedindly digestable by BasketballValue.com. Mason's total (offensive and defensive combined) adjusted plus-minus with OKC was +5.11, which is pretty damn good (second best to Kyle Weaver on the Thunder).

Q&A with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Kyle Weaver
"It was real fluke. I don’t even remember what actually did it. I just remember it was a dead ball after somebody got fouled (in the Orlando Summer League), but I don’t know if I hit somebody’s arm trying to turn or stop. I just remember jamming it and thinking it was a regular jam."

Tulsa 66ers Will Have 16th Pick In NBDL Draft
Despite the fact the 66ers will pick last in the first round, because the league uses a "serpentine" format, they will have the first pick in the second round, giving them the 16th and 17th overall picks.

66ers Free Public Event Gives Fans First Peek At Renovated Tulsa Convention Center
"We are excited to be in downtown Tulsa, and to give our fans a glimpse at the arena," 66ers President Jim Brylewski said. "This is a great opportunity to secure the best seats for every home game, join the 66ers and Thunder family, and enjoy the action on the court up close with some of the best athletes in world."

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