The Thunder got their 3rd win in the pre-season last night, marking the first game in the 'Peake. Here is a bit of feedback, as well as other goings on around the NBA.
Darnell Mayberry writes in his post-game quotes a number of good insights not only about Kevin Durant's dominance, but how the role players are figuring out what they need to be about, especially playing along side Durant. This quote is great:
"I also don’t want to talk too much. I just want to let them play and go through it and learn from mistakes just like people let me do it. I want to be a leader and help them out, but I also want them to just go out there and play their games and play off instincts. I don’t want them to be robots out there."
Royce Young follows it up with another great quote:
"I feel fat." Fat? "I feel like I’ve got a big butt. But I feel better. With age I guess is helping me out a little bit so hopefully I keep it up throughout the season. I’m still skinny up here a little bit, but I feel bigger down low. Hopefully it’s going to help me get closer to the rim and get my position more and hold off guys."
NBA.com's Jeff Caplan reminds us in his very first line what the proper perspective for this season should be:
"With or without Russell Westbrook for the first four to six weeks of the regular season, it's the last six weeks of the postseason that will ultimately define this season's Oklahoma City Thunder."
SI's Rob Mahoney asks what the best Finals dream match-ups might be, in the wake of what in my opinion was the most competitive and compelling Finals since 1988. Thunder vs Bulls? Sure, but really what we want is another crack at the Heat.
LeBron James gives an extensive interview about his course in life these days. I found this quote particularly self-aware because this is exactly what I was seeing during the Finals:
"The Spurs dared me to shoot, and it worked for the first few games, and it became a mental challenge for me. I started rethinking. I was thinking too much. But once I got past that, I just started thinking to myself, Man, you've worked on your shot too much to now go back in reverse. Just go out and do it. Just go out and shoot the same shots you shoot in practice, the same shots you shoot in workouts, and just believe in them."
Darnell Mayberry talks about Kevin Durant's improved playmaking. To me, the biggest difference is that Durant has recognized that in order to be a true playmaker, he has to maintain himself as a threat at all times. Last year, he vacillated between the two and it effected his own offense, especially late in the game.
If you can, go back and watch the Thunder's preseason game against Philadelphia.
Pay close attention to Kevin Durant.
Watch the way he handled the ball. Controlled the pace. Picked apart the defense and made plays with his passing.
12th, eh? Ok, sure.
My personal aside - quit doing the whole 'Patrick Beverley' thing. It's starting to get annoying and it's not like he made a dirty play or anything. He made an aggressive play and just hit a guy in the wrong spot at the wrong angle. I'd gladly take him as a backup PG.
Our buddy Ian Levy at Hickory High gets Grantland contributor and spacial analytics expert Kirk Goldsberry on his r-squared podcast. There are some fine data points on that line of discussion, let me tell you.
Gregg Popovich is still the best. Per Eye on Basketball:
"We talk about a lot of things with the team," Popovich said. "We haven't gotten really specific with the shutdown... Most foreigners think we're pretty silly... and they're correct. It's children fighting over their toys, so to speak. It's got nothing to do with the public or what's good for the country. It's about winning and losing, and that doesn't do any of us much good. Hopefully they're going to get to some sort of agreement in the next couple of days that might be good for the American people.
"It's funny how each of them talks about what the American people want. The leaders from one side, they talk and say 'The American People want...' How the hell do these people know what they want? They live in a fishbowl. And then the other side says the same thing. It's kind of comical, if it wasn't so dramatically devastating for so many people."