OKC Loud Links: NBA Basketball Almost With Us Again! Also, Christmas

T-minus two days and counting. I can't even remember the last time I was this excited for a season to start. I'm shimmying my shoulders just thinking about it.

Setting the Bar for Thunder Players | Daily Thunder

Young goes player by player to see where their personal standards should be set. I honestly don't feel like most offensive statistics will change much this year, but that analysis may prove to be illusory. The key stats I will be paying close attention to are turnovers and defensive rebounds.

Who Can Stop a Thunder-Heat Finals? | SB Nation

In the west, I'd go with the Mavericks or Grizzlies, and in the East, the only team good enough is the Bulls.

OKC Super Important Offseason Developments | Daily Thunder

I actually happen to like Cole Aldrich's new 'do. It makes him look less like one of the extras from "Deliverance." He might want to consider a lumberjack beard though. Mark Eaton immortalized that particular look.

25 Most Important People | SB Nation

Prada puts together a great list of the most compelling figures that will shape the NBA's landscape this season.

Former Teammates, 2 Big Men Went Different Ways | NY Times

I really enjoyed this story, because I do remember the initial paring between Eddie Curry and Tyson Chandler. I think that after watching and listening to Chandler these past few seasons, it is very difficult not to come away a fan of him.

Thunder Hoping to Make Deep Run | Boston Herald

The pain from last season's exit still haunts them. This is a good thing.

Spurs Baseline Screen and Curl | 48 Minutes of Hell

We've compared Tony Parker to Russell Westbrook in the past, and this play diagramming points us toward one more way in which we're hoping to see both Westbrook and Coach Scott Brooks grow.

Lob City Recap | SB Nation

If this is this season's answer to last year's "Heat Index," then I can totally get on board with that.

Phoenix Suns: Total Eclipse of Hope | Hardwood Paroxysm

There's a part of me that feels like the Suns have been playing out the string ever since Steve Nash got hip-checked by Robert Horry in the 2007 playoffs.

12th Day of Christmas | Grantland

Simmons concludes his 12 days of Christmas with an ode to fantasy basketball.

NBA Facebook Townhall Meeting | Daily Dot

Last night, the players held a virtual townhall meeting via Facebook.

"If you were playing fantasy basketball, and you have the first [overall] pick, who would you choose?" asked one. Amar'e and Curry both picked Durant, who gave an aw-shucks smile. Durant chose Chris Paul.

HoopSpeak Live: 30 | HoopSpeak

The HS guys once again get some great commentary by veteran reporters Howard Beck (a man critical to our understanding of the whole lockout) and Tom Haberstroh, who will be tracking on the favorites this year, the Miami Heat.

More links after the jump.

Mark Twain, Nene, and the Nuggets | NBA Playbook

The playbook is back with a number of new hosts. Pruiti started the trend, but the great thing is, anybody can do it and enhance our understanding of the game. First up, Kendrick Perkins' nemesis.

Can the Heat Occupy the NBA? | RealGM

This is an interesting perspective on the concept of some fundamental American principles - ownership and self-determination.

Heat Owner Voted Against CBA in "Protest" | CBS Sports

When you're worth $4.2 billion, this is barely the skin off your knuckles.

Reading Between the Lines: Western Conference | Hardwood Hype

Another tip of the cap to the Thunder's prospects, with the over-under set at 48.5 wins.

Bill Walton Narrates Trippy Grateful Dead Video | Ball Don't Lie

Peanut butter and jelly. Starsky and Hutch. Bo and Luke. Christina Hendricks' left and right. Some things just belong together.

LeBron Airballs Free Throw | Ball Don't Lie

He needs the shoulder shimmy. Didn't he learn anything from Kevin Durant this summer?

What Kobe's Wrist Injury Means | CBS Sports

I think it means that Kobe won't be clutch anymore.

Monta Ellis: Sexting Hall of Fame | SB Nation

Congratulations Monta Ellis, you've achieved a level of notoriety mostly reserved for politicians, dignitaries, and Tiger Woods.

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