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Loud Links: 12/10/2009

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So today we have some news that was in the recap yesterday (see: Holiday Gift Assist) as well as info on Durant (comparisons with other valuable college hoops stars from then and now, his All-Star vote tallying, and so forth). Other random interesting stuff interspersed within the mix.

Group could close on dunes by Dec. 31 | woodtv.com
The land sits on each side of the mouth of the Kalamazoo River. McClendon, a billionaire who is an owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, bought the 402 acres in 2006 and plans to develop the property on the north side of the river.

Thunder rolls in to help during holidays | newsok.com
It was the Holiday Gift Assist. Grandparents raising grandchildren went around Target with the help of these NBA players to get Christmas gifts for the children. It was awesome, to say the least. I overheard some of the interaction between the Thunder and the kids. You would’ve sworn these guys were just big kids themselves. They were excited and engaged and really showed they had hearts of gold.

Surprises, letdowns after NBA's first quarter - NBA News | Foxsports.com
Our quarter-pole Coach of the Year is Oklahoma City Thunder sideline boss Scott Brooks. As the leader of the league's youngest core rotation, Brooks has overcome turnover-producing inexperience on offense and developed the NBA's fifth-most-efficient defense without the luxury of a certified baseline bruiser or shot-blocker. Kids who play team defense? That also makes Brooks eligible for the surprise list.

Thunder-Grizzlies Preview - Dec. 10, 2009 - NBA - CBSSports.com
Memphis (9-12) passed on Harden with the second pick in June, instead selecting 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet, who hasn't contributed much. Thabeet is averaging 2.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 10.1 minutes a contest. The Grizzlies left Harden on the board for the Thunder (11-9) at No. 3, partly because they were set at shooting guard after obtaining O.J. Mayo in a trade after he was selected by Minnesota with the third pick in the 2008 draft. Mayo would finish second to Chicago's Derrick Rose for NBA Rookie of the Year, and he's averaging 17.6 points this season alongside point guard Mike Conley in a backcourt Memphis hopes to have around for a long time.

High Usage Rates should help Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas, Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose turn things around - ESPN
Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder (Usg. 26.0, 16th in NBA): Westbrook is only in his second year, and only just turned 21, so his owners need to be patient and understand that they drafted him well aware he was going to disappoint in field-goal percentage. After a hot start, Westbrook's percentage from the floor quickly dropped beneath 40 percent, undermining what should be elite fantasy production.

Starting Five: Is Wall the best freshman ever? | sportingnews.com
As great as Durant, Jackson and Aguirre were as scorers, a gifted point guard is going to affect the game in so many more ways. Wall directs the team's offense and fronts the team's defense. Unless he is inadequate in these areas—and he has been exceptional—Wall has an inherent advantage. Ford had greater control of his team's offense than any point guard who has played college basketball. Anderson was a superior creative force. But neither player was built to be as disruptive on defense as Wall has been.

Durant Fifth In First All-Star Balloting Returns | Thunder Rumblings | newsok.com
Thunder forward Kevin Durant is currently fifth among Western Conference forwards in the preliminary All-Star balloting numbers the NBA released today. Durant ranks behind Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, the Lakers’ Pau Gasol and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan. Forward Jeff Green and guard Russell Westbrook did not rank in the top 11 in voting during the first returns. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant leads all players thus far with 692,518 votes. Here is the breakdown for Western Conference forwards.