Thunder & Lightning
The Oklahoma City Thunder have gotten off to the fast start we expected, but at 8-2 the Thunder may be even better than advertised. Kevin Durant is continuing to grow and improve, which is saying something when you are already the two-time defending scoring champion. James Harden is in the midst of a breakout year, and has morphed into Oklahoma City’s third best player and a spark-plug off the bench — the ‘Lamar Odom of the Thunder,’ if you will. Harden has provided the all-around perimeter game expected when he was taken with the third overall pick in 2009.
This team is young and deep. They like each other, play well together and buy into their coach’s game plan. Right now, it’s looking more and more like OKC is the team to beat in the West.
Ultimately, this team will go as far as Russell Westbrook can take them. The offensive-minded Westbrook needs to learn how to be effective as a game manager and pass-first point guard. He doesn’t need to transform himself, just be able to recognize when he should facilitate and feed the ball to Durant every time down the floor. Not impossible, right?
Welcome to Lob City
And so the tale is told … David Stern, in his customary tyrannical grandeur and douchebag-ness, declared that the mighty Lakers could not acquire the treasure, and he disallowed the exchange. The one whom they call Chris Paul was stuck in purgatory, but a new land was to arise out of the ashes of controversy.
LOB CITY was born!
The Clippers are 4-2 so far, and have looked both like one of the best teams at times and one of the worst at others. It would seem that this inconsistency stems from adding three (Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler) of the team’s six most important players to the mix during this shortened offseason. These inconsistencies would be more likely to disappear if Vinny Del Negro weren’t the head coach.
Either way, CP3 needs to shoot the ball more and be more aggressive as a scorer offensively. Blake Griffin needs to keep doing his thing. DeAndre Jordan needs consistency. Billups needs humility (he is no longer a volume shooter, but a three-point shooting veteran presence at this stage in his career). And Vinny Del Negro needs a new haircut.
Like a 40-year-old hippie wandering through the Coachella desert on acid, this team is still finding itself. Mainly, the Clippers need to learn how to win. Close-game experience in situations that actually matter, despite being virtually nonexistent in Clipper history, can’t be accurately replicated in practice. It comes with familiarity.
Daily Nexus sports editor Ryan Porush is tellin’ people what they need like he’s in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ or some shit.