Beyond The Arc: OKC Thunder weekly team awards for the week of Jan. 9-15

W. Bennett Berry

Time to hand out some hardware to the best performers on the Thunder for the week of Jan. 9-15

I have been thinking of a weekly post to do for Welcome To Loud City and I am pretty sure I have finally settled on one. I like the idea of grading the team's progress from week to week but the idea of doing straight up grades for every player on the team felt like it would become boring after a while for both you and I. Then I thought instead of doing grades, what if it was weekly awards? The more I began to think about it the more I began to like it even more. But I did not want to do the usual awards like MVP and most improved etc. After much thought this is what I have decided to go with moving forward.

I calling this post Beyond The Arc because I will be giving out three weekly awards to various players on the Thunder squad. Three is a very simple and easy number to wrap your head and eyes around when you read it. I mean, if Jack White can build an entire record label and one of the greatest rock groups ever around the number three, then surely I can do so too. The awards are going to have some...um...unusual names attached to them which I will do my best to explain my reasons for doing so.

Without further ado, let's get on with passing out some awards.

The Buffy Summers Award (Team MVP for the week)

You will soon find out that along with loving everything about the NBA and many other sports that I also love many nerdy things as well. One of those things is the TV show Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I tend to make many references to the great show created by mastermind Joss Whedon. The reason for naming the weekly MVP award after Buffy Summers is because if there ever was an MVP of a show, plot lines, and story arcs, it was her. Yes, there were some other characters on the show like Willow, Xander and Giles who played a part from time to time. But lets be real about this (funny choice of words considering I am talking about a fictional show where a girl slays demons) she was the one who carried the team. She is the one who saved the world...a lot. That is the definition of MVP for me.

So our first Buffy Summers award winner is Kevin Durant. This was a no doubter after a week where KD averaged 32.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists and nabbed Western Conference Player of the Week. He followed up that honor by dropping 41, 5, 2, 2 and a ridiculous dunk on Marcin Gortat and the rest of the Suns Monday evening. It was a pretty easy selection.

I have a feeling this award will be a two horse race between KD and his partner in crime, Russell Westbrook. But I am going to do my best to find other guys on the team to award this honor to when it applies. But you have to earn it fellows.

The Tom Haverford Award (Best Supporting Player)

Along with my love for Joss Whedon television shows I also love the show Parks and Recs. It is the best show on TV let alone best comedy out there. One of the main reasons why the show is great is due to the great support characters that surround Leslie Knope. One of those Characters is fellow city employee and owner of Rent a Swag, Tom Haverford. So who better to name the award after than the ultimate supporting guy Tommy Tom?

The winner of the first ever Tom Haverford Award is DeAndre Liggins. Overall his numbers for the whole week were not overly impressive but the reason he wins the award this week is because of the production he gave the Thunder in Sunday's win over the Trail Blazers. He was forced into starting duty when Thabo Sefolosha was unable to play with a neck injury. Liggins played a game-high 40 minutes and was able to give the Thunder 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal and helped them get a road win vs. a team that plays really well at home. That is a tough spot for a young player like Liggins to step into and he was able to give the team really good production.

Now time for our last award.

Walter White Empire Scale:

This isn't really much of an award as it is a weekly grading scale for the Thunder team as a whole. Another thing you need to know about me is I love TV (obviously) and I really love the show Breaking Bad. I have learned two things from my time watching the show. First is to never take half measures when full measures are needed and the second is that Walter White is not in the "meth or money business" but that he is in the "empire business."

With that in mind I applied that logic to the Thunder and decided to attach a sliding scale to the team. The idea is to use this scale as a way to judge how well the Thunder are doing at achieving the ultimate empire goal of a NBA Championship. The scale is a numerical and goes from 1-10 with one being poor and ten being good. Or for any other Breaking Bad fans out there one would be Badger and ten would be Gus Fring.

This week the OKC Thunder land an 8 on the Walter White Empire Scale. They had the one hiccup with the loss at the buzzer vs. the Washington Wizards but after that they won four straight games. The most impressive thing about the four straight wins are the three straight road wins. The Lakers are a bad team this season but they still carry a name and the Thunder went into their building and dominated them for almost the entire game. Then to travel up north and win at Portland in a game that got a little wacky at the end was also impressive. But what I really liked was the Monday night win vs. the Suns. It would have been easy for the Thunder to come into that game flat. It was the second night of a back-to-back against a team that is not very good.

Those are games that can trip teams up but the Thunder did not let that happen. Former NFL coach Dick Vermeil used to say that it is important to keep losing teams losing and that is what the Thunder did vs. the Suns. That is what championship teams do. That is what the Miami Heat are struggling to do this season.

The Thunder were the first team to 30 wins this season and are in the driver's seat to make a return trip to the NBA Finals.

***

Follow me on twitter @craig_a_brenner

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