ESPN NBA analysts Ric Bucher and Chris Sheridan joined the online community to answer a host of NBA-related questions. There were several questions submitted which inquired about the Thunder. I've excerpted them below.
Question: Do you think the Thunder will make any moves before the trade deadline?
Chris Sheridan: I would say they are in the best position of practically any NBA team to make a serious upgrade somewhere, because they have Mo Peterson's expiring $6.2 million contract plus the rights to a Clippers No. 1 pick to use as trade chips. Plus, they appear to be the quintessenial "one player away" team.
Question: Why are the OKC Thunder performing at a lower level than last year, when they've lost nobody?
Ric Bucher: Simplest answer: they've become accomplished scorers and think they can win that way and are not playing defense at the same level they did when they thought that was the only way they could win. That and, as Westbrook has blown up, the connection between him and KD has not evolved in a great way. That and the expectations are so much higher.
Question: What are the chances Blake Griffin Leaves the Clippers after his rookie contract and joins KD and the Thunder?
Ric Bucher: Don't see it. Thunder will have to commit financially to a number of guys before then that will prevent them from getting him as a FA. But it's a nice thought.
A few comments after the jump:
Perhaps I'm just feeling cynical today, but it kind of bugs me when I read chat logs like these. I accept that it is difficult to scroll through hundreds of questions, choose the best ones, and then try to bang out a meaningful answer in under 30 seconds. I've never tried it, but I presume it's not easy. And yet, I can't get over the fact that these guys do this professionally and still churn out answers like these. Instead of offering answers that are even the slightest bit meaningful which would have rewarded the online participants for reading through transcripts and submitting their questions, the answers given here feel political and out of date. Yes, the NBA is a large organism with many facets, but then again, this is what these guys do for a living. I don't always agree with ESPN's John Hollinger, but at least he engages with his participants and takes defensible positions that might be proven wrong at a later date.
- The first question to Sheridan is a simple yes or no question. "Do you think the Thunder will trade?" His answer: "they could!" Well, of course they could. Any team could make a trade. That wasn't the question. National profile guys seem to do this more and more - they assume that we don't know much of anything, so they then proceed to tell us the obvious, thinking that it's an amazing revelation. For all we know, the question submitter already knew that the Thunder were well-positioned to make a trade, and the question they're really asking is, "given this position, do you think the Thunder will make a trade?"
- For the first Bucher question, the first part of it is perfectly fine. However, he then delves into some quixotic analysis of the relationship between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant that doesn't seem to be grounded in any sense of reality if you've actually seen this team play. Yes, the balance between the two was wobbly...in November. November was almost three months ago. It seems like the talking points for story lines get set early on in the year, and then the talking heads hardly ever deviate from them for the remainder.
- For the last question, yeah, that's just stupid. But then again, a great question to post because the answer is so easy to give.