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Loud Links: Oklahoma City Thunder News for July 10, 2009


So the Orlando Pro Summer League has concluded and the Thunder finished with a 3-2 record. My question is should the win last night against the 76ers and the Nets count as two wins? We did beat two teams, right? Anyway in this edition of Loud Links ESPN ponders if Serge Ibaka is ready for the Thunder. Harden isn’t afraid of the Black Mamba. James Harden is already being mentioned as a rookie of the year contender. There is also more observations from Orlando. Don’t forget the Las Vegas Summer League. The OKC Thunder plays Memphis on Sunday!


Thunder's Scott Brooks likes new seat |
"You establish your relationship with them and trust with them," Brooks said. "Those guys are great kids. If you’re fair to them and you know what you’re talking about, they’re going to trust you, whether you just come in as a head coach and not being an assistant. Fortunately for me, I’ve been with them going on three seasons now. I understand where they’re coming from, what gets them going. They love to play, and that’s why we get along."

Harden Won't Be Intimidated By Kobe -- NBA FanHouse
"Kobe is the best player in the world, but he laces up his shoes just like I lace up mine,'' Harden said earlier this week. "Sure, I'll get a welcome-to-the-NBA moment, but it's just basketball. I've played against him before [in the summer]. I won't be intimidated.''

Is Serge Ibaka NBA-Ready? - TrueHoop By Henry Abbott - ESPN
The Thunder, who scouted Ibaka for a season before the draft, were impressed at how quickly he learned Spanish while playing in the country. Ibaka joked that it only took him three months to become fluent. There have been momentary miscommunications this week -- when Ibaka has to take out the ball, when he misses a play call -- but he plays at the right speed for the Thunder and is a fan of the 20-year-old Westbrook. "He likes it a lot because they're the same age," Ehambe said. "[Westbrook] plays really hard, he likes running, just like he does. He loves playing with a point guard that runs the floor with him. He loves having a point guard like Russell Westbrook." Just in case that wasn't enough, Ibaka interjected, "I'm very happy my team point guard Westbrook."

PBN | Orlando update
The more you see and hear about Oklahoma City lottery pick James Harden, the more you think the guy has star written all over him. I know I keep bringing it up, and I know it's only the summer league, but I can't help but go back to something Eric Musselman wrote about Harden for PBN. Basically, the former NBA coach predicted that Harden will be a better pro than collegian. It's hard to argue with Musselman's logic -- as Harden really does have an NBA body and pro mindset. He's 6-foot-5, around 220 pounds, strong, athletic and skilled. It sounds basic, but there weren't many guys (if any) in this year's draft who offered such a complete package. There's a reason Thunder GM Sam Presti chose Harden with the No. 3 overall pick.

Which NBA Rookie Will Be the Top Performer in 2009
My pick is James Harden, Harden is an explosive talent and offensive scorer out of Arizona State. The Oklahoma City Thunder selected James Harden with the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Harden is expected to start as well at the shooting guard position and former shooting guard Kevin Durrant is projected to move to the Small forward spot as he should with his 6'9 height. This move will allow Harden opportunities to control the ball himself, instead of just a catch and shoot style of system. Look for James Harden to play well his first year and to astonish some critics with his passing abilities and rebounding skills. Harden has a body shape similar to Carmelo Anthony which makes him deceptive to defenders. He is faster than teams think and plays at two gears kind of like Allen Iverson who can constantly run faster we he needs to. Harden is a creative ball handler and my pick to win rookie of the year.

THUNDER: Orlando Summer League Coverage
For Harden, it was his first extended minutes this week as the primary ball handler. In the week leading up to the Orlando Pro Summer League, the Thunder staff has remained confident that Harden can be a facilitator. He certainly played the part on Friday. Harden looked sure of himself when getting the team into half court sets, and seldom rushed a play or forced a first option. Harden was effective coming off the high pick-and-roll, as his dribble penetration often ended with him attacking the rim or successfully kicking it out to a teammate. That spoke to his court vision. One of Harden’s most impressive sequences came in the second quarter, when he passed up a high screen and took his defender off the dribble with a sharp crossover, exploded to the basket and finished with a two-handed dunk.

Orlando Summer League in review | Daily - Where Thunder Happens
Nobody was more surprising in Orlando than Serge Ibaka. He went from fringe D-Leaguer to possibly a certain rotation player in just five days. You can’t say enough about how polished his offensive skill set looked. He had post moves, he had an elbow jumper, he could put the ball on the floor and he could face up. You would’ve loved to have seen his rebounding numbers been more in the 5-7 a game territory but I’ll take what we got. I know I’m ready to buy my Serge Ibaka replica jersey.

Orlando Observations: Day 5 | Thunder Rumblings
Serge Ibaka looked solid again, continuing to show off a smooth shooting touch from 15 to 17 feet and some nifty footwork on the interior. On one possession, he hit his defender with an up-and-under move starting from the left block and got a trip to the foul line. It was a advanced move that was pretty impressive for a player who is supposed to be raw. Ibaka had eight points, three rebounds and one blocked shot in 19 minutes.

Harden is Thunder's star helper -
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard said he would make his mark with the Oklahoma City Thunder by doing unselfish things. He would pass to open teammates cutting through the lane. He would defend the pick-and-roll. He'd dive to the floor for loose balls. "I'm not trying to come out here and show my individual game; that's not the type of player I am," he said. "Seeing everybody else score makes me happy, especially when we're winning.

Thunder notebook: Byron Mullens shines in win |
"The last few nights, I’ve been having some bad games, and I just went back to the hotel and sat down and prayed about it," Mullens said. "I knew I was struggling, and my shot wasn’t falling, but today I started the game off right. I hit like a 10-foot shot, and I wasn’t rushing."

Orlando Observations: Day 4 | Thunder Rumblings
On one possession late in the first quarter, Blake Ahearn was trying to be a little physical with Westbrook as he brought the ball up the court. The two proceeded to get into it a little bit, and the sequence ended with the best move I’ve ever seen out of Westbrook. Westbrook shoved off Ahearn a few times as he brought the ball up the court and the N.J./Philadelphia bench wanted an offensive foul called. The ref eventually blew the whistle on Ahearn, who then tried to swat the ball out of Westbrook’s hands after the play had ended as Westbrook walked away. Westbrook flipped the ball in Ahearn’s direction and walked off. On the inbounds play, Westbrook pushed off Ahearn to receive the pass on the left wing, backed down the smaller Ahearn with two dribbles, turned and shot a baseline fadeaway that looked a little something like this. The move was aggressive yet controlled, powerful yet graceful. Get mad a little more, Russ.


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