Loud Links: June 3, 2009

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4D is back with a handful of links for your web browsing enjoyment. The Big 12 recognizes two Oklahoma collegiate b-ballers.  D.J. White is featured in his hometown paper. ESPN interviews OKC’s Shaun Livingston. There is more reaction from the NBA Draft Combine. There is some speculation that Austin Daye purposely lowered his results at the Combine. The Oklahoman says Oklahoma City is looking more enticing as an NBA city.  A bit biased? You be the judge.

Ashley Paris, Blake Griffin honored by Big 12 - NCAA Basketball - SI.com
The Big 12 has named Oklahoma basketball players Blake Griffin and Ashley Paris as the conference's 2008-09 Sportspersons of the Year. The award, started with the 2000-01 academic year, recognizes student-athletes who display extraordinary levels of sportsmanship and-or community service. The winners are selected by a media panel and will be nominated for the NCAA's sportsmanship award.

NBA Combine results and a few revised thoughts | Daily Thunder.com
I think the two that did the most for themselves were Stephen Curry and James Harden. I’m beginning to turn and find my way to the Curry bandwagon. He’s a much better athlete than I anticipated and he’s polished in every way. A 35.5-inch vertical, good agility numbers and nice speed results. Plus he’s smart, can shoot and… can shoot. I like him more and more. And I think Harden put to bed some of those "subpar athlete" criticisms. Maybe it was the baggy t-shirt he wore in college that tagged him with that stereotype. He had an excellent vertical and tested well in everything else, especially the strength numbers (he benched 185 17 times - one the top numbers at the camp).

D.J. White eager for a healthy second NBA season
As he ran out onto the shiny, freshly polished maple-wood court at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, D.J. White rushed a few forced breaths. The National Basketball Association rookie’s stomach was tied in knots, nervous about guarding one of the greatest power forwards the game has ever seen.

2009 NBA Draft Combine: Analysis | NBADraft.net
You’ve got to respect Blake Griffin, James Harden, and Jordan Hill for participating while fellow lottery picks Ricky Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet, and Brandon Jennings did not. It’s disappointing that we don’t get a chance to see how this year’s best all stack up against each other, but we can analyze what we have.

Draft Combine Notes: Was Austin Daye Dogging it?
It wasn't a shock that the Gonzaga sophomore forward was the only player who couldn't even lift the 185-pound bench press once. After all, he's 6-foot-10 and only 192 pounds. But, when has Daye ever been described as extremely slow and unathletic? He did it all for Gonzaga over the past two seasons. He scored inside and outside, handled the ball, scored and dished in transition, threw down exciting dunks, blocked shots, and really gave Gonzaga a long, versatile player in its lineup.

Grading the Thunder's draft picks of the past 20 years - ESPN Insider
See the chart below for a detailed, pick-by-pick analysis of the Thunder's drafts over the last 20 years. The EWA column shows the player's actual production, while the eEWA column shows the expected value of that draft slot. The "net" column is the difference between the two.

NBA Draft - D.R.A.F.T. Initiative - The best- and worst-drafting teams since 1989 - ESPN Insider
Which teams have drafted best over the past 20 years? And which are the worst draft-day franchises? To figure that out, you can't just compile a list of names. Even the Warriors can trot out some gems, which is what happens when you end up in the lottery almost every season. But just because they've nabbed Antawn Jamison, Chris Webber, Jason Richardson and Andris Biedrins, it doesn't mean they're excellent at evaluating talent.

Oklahoma City’s image | NBA in OKC
When the organization moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City one of the first reactions was the team would suffer since many NBA players wouldn’t like playing in a small market. A lot of media assumed Oklahoma City would have a difficult time signing free agents and retaining players who presumably would want to play in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.

Hasheem Thabeet or Bust for OKC Thunder | Empty the Bench
They’d also be doing the Thunder a big favor, allowing OKC to jump on Thabeet and finally complete their core of young up-and-comers that features Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook. A rebounding, shot-blocking, defensive presence in the middle is one area this team still sorely lacks for–the 22-year-old Thabeet would fill this role immediately and likely step into the starting lineup from Day 1. The Thunder already tried to fill this gap by trading for Tyson Chandler, but were scared off by health concerns.

ESPN: NBA's 65 in 65: Shaun Livingston - SportsNation
Derek (MO): Feel good? hows the knee? Props on coming back from one of the worst looking injuries i have ever seen. Says something about your drive to be a pro Shaun Livingston: The knee is better than ever. It continues to feel better everyday. Playing in the NBA was a dream of mine and I feel that I can still play at a top level and that's what made me continue to work hard to get back on the court.

Thunder Team Report - Yahoo! Sports
The Thunder will have the third pick in the NBA Draft, up one spot from the pre-lottery position of fourth. Oklahoma City native Blake Griffin, who would have been a perfect fit with his hometown team, is headed to the lottery-winning Clippers. Based on draft projections, the Thunder will likely choose between UConn center Hasheen Thabeet and Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio. Memphis has the No. 2 pick. Early reports, however, say Rubio’s camp has no interest in playing for a small-market team like Memphis or OKC. The Thunder’s front office isn’t worried about such talk just yet. The team goes into the draft dealing from a position of strength with multiple picks and plenty of cap room.

NBA Draft: The Guy You Don't Know... Yet
What team in this 2009 NBA Draft is going to use a second-round pick on a guy just three weeks younger than league MVP LeBron James? At 24 years old and 6'1", the professional future of University of Miami combo guard Jack McClinton probably seems a little foggy. But that doesn't mean he's out of luck and off teams' radars; he was one of the 50 players invited to the Chicago Draft Combine last week after all, and his combination of maturity and versatility could make some team very happy.

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