We linked to the Sports Illustrated interview that Sam Amick conducted with the mercurial Gilbert Arenas earlier today. The entire interview is well worth a read because Arenas is simply an interesting and honest guy when he chooses to open up about his life. I want to excerpt some of the things that he says about the Thunder specifically. It is well noted that we the fans and the professional commentators can speculate all we like about who is a good player and who is not, but the players themselves know who really has a game that is valuable.
Thoughts on the Thunder:
"One team right now that I see is going to have a problem is the Thunder. Every young team [uses] the Thunder [as an example]: 'Look the Thunder did this, and this is how we're going to go.' But at the end of the day, if you have a whole bunch of young players and they all play well and they become successful, that means you've got to pay them all. And if you have to pay them all, you won't be able to afford them all and basically you're going to have to break up your team a little bit."
"You've still got James Harden [who will be eligible for an extension after the season], who is, to me, the second-most-important player on the team. Russell is athletic. He's that Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, that JaVale McGee type, that John Wall, that raw talent. They just have raw talent that is going to make them good. And when they learn the game of basketball, that's when they're going to become great basketball players. Rose is understanding the game a lot. He's developed a lot, but the other ones are still in the midst of finding out who they are and going off of raw, natural talent.
"But James Harden, he has the basketball mind already. He can get his shot off any time he wants, he doesn't force many shots, and if he plays 40 minutes he'll be one of the top scorers in the league and an All-Star. If he comes off the bench, it makes it hard to make that case. So his value is higher in my mind than they can afford.
"[Durant] is, hands down, the No. 1 scorer. The No. 2 option, for me, is Harden. Your No. 3 option is the point guard, but he becomes the No. 1 and 2 and 3 option because he always has the ball. And when you're stronger and bigger than everybody, you're going to have opportunities. So when people say he [Westbrook] needs to stop shooting, I get frustrated. If I'm a coach or general manager, I would never tell that kid to stop shooting, because as long as he's aggressive, Kevin Durant will be dominant. You talk about Russell as a ball-hog, but how is he a ball-hog if Kevin Durant is still leading the league in scoring?
"If this point guard/hybrid -- whatever you want to call him -- is jumping at the rim and blowing past every guard, you have to always focus on him because you don't know what he's going to do. And as long as you're focusing on him, Kevin Durant gets to play the basketball he gets to play, and that's what makes it good."