OKC Loud Links: Maintaining the Momentum

The Thunder travel to Portland tonight to visit the Trail Blazers in a game that the Thunder should be able to handle without too much difficulty. I italicize should though because as we've seen this season, the team has a strange way of celebrating their new-found focus by taking a break from it from time to time. Further more, there are two huge games on the horizon - the Lakers on Thursday and the Bulls on Sunday. It would be reasonable to expect that OKC would relax tonight. We hope though that they're learning lessons about preparedness.

Durant is NBA's Most Improved | SB Nation

Prada makes the argument that Kevin Durant is the league's most improved player because he has positively addressed every weak element of his game from last season. I particularly like this line the best:

Durant's starting to act like he's actually bigger than the man he is guarding.

The Evolution of the Thunder's Trio | Sports Illustrated

There is no question that this season, the Thunder's trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden all playing together at the same time is the most offensively efficient combination in the NBA. Furthermore:

Oklahoma City leads the league in efficiency with 107.6 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com. With these three on the court together, that number jumps all the way to a ridiculous 115.2 points per 100 possessions. No team has ever scored at a rate that high. The 1986-87 Lakers, the most efficient offense in NBA history, averaged 2.1 points per 100 possessions fewer than the Thunder have averaged with Durant, Westbrook and Harden on the court together this season, according to NBA.com.

Thunder Player Power Rankings | Daily Thunder

I am 100% in agreement with Young's assessment of Derek Fisher so far.

Thunder-Heat Game Breaks TV Record | NewsOK

The Thunder-Heat Sunday night match-up drew a 14.9 rating. I can't even begin to understand how TV ratings work, but I have a feeling it was due in part to the epic match-up between Joel Anthony and Nick Collison.

Are the Spurs the Luckiest Team in the NBA? | Pounding the Rock

Even Spurs fans admit that when it comes to long-term, sustained success, sometimes the factors that are outside of a team's control are the most important. OKC fans should always remember this when it seems like the team is stagnating.

The Treadmill of Mediocrity | Wages of Wins

Is it really true that a team needs to tank and dismantle if they ever want to take the next step forward?

Kobe Haggles Over Auto Purchase | TMZ

I can only imagine how many cup-holders that thing has.

Professional Basketball Writers Awards | NBA Confidential

Sam Amick highlights the annual NBA writers award winners from 2011. Most notable, Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman won an award for his feature on Russell Westbrook's journey to the NBA. Whenever I think about how frustrating it can be to watch Westbrook learning the game on the fly, I reflect on this piece to remember how far he has come, and that mastery of his position in the NBA is inevitable, given his talent and drive. He will get it.

Tanking: A Definition and a Defense | Basketball Prospectus

This interesting counter-perspective on tanking seems to run against the notion that moral hazard is invoked when bad teams are rewarded with high draft picks.

Paul George Hits Half-Court Shot | 8 Points, 9 Seconds

Amazingly, Paul George replicated Dwyane Wade's shot a night after the fact.

Breaking Down the NBA's Transition Specialists | NY Times

Mahoney highlights some of the best fast break guards in the league. I am guessing that Russell Westbrook is not on this list because, while he is becoming a devastating fast break scorer, his effectiveness is not limited only to it.

Reggie Jackson is Lost | Twitter

What is Reggie Jackson looking for? A tattoo parlor? A Taco Bell? The world waits for an answer.

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