With only 69 days until the Thunder play (this is where you yell ‘NICE’), it’s just about time to start thinking about basketball in real terms. I can’t wait — the depths of summer time have not been good to me. I need basketball in my life, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you feel the same way. We’ll get through this together, okay?
Thunder to head south of the border in regular season game
The NBA has made a concerted effort to extend the brand of basketball worldwide. Basketball academies and goodwill tours do well to foster the love of the game internationally, but nothing beats the real thing.
The league announced today that the Oklahoma City Thunder will meet the Brooklyn Nets in Mexico City in a regular season matchup slated for December 7th. The game will count as a home game for the Nets, as will their second game in Mexico City against the Miami Heat.
Commissioner Adam Silver spoke on what the games mean for basketball:
Quote from Adam Silver about the NBA’s games in Mexico: pic.twitter.com/ad0JUqXVvL
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) August 9, 2017
As far as internationals in the league go, Europe has a stranglehold on the majority, with Central/South America, Africa, and Asia lag behind. As the NBA continues to nurture its relationship by creating events like this, the number of international players in the league should rise.
Warriors targeting PG13?
Even non-basketball fans know the story by now: Kevin Durant, after eight successful years in OKC, decided to bolt for the Bay. Ultimately, it got him a ring.
But it seems as if the Golden State Warriors are not content with their historically great squad — they’re reportedly targeting Paul George in free agency, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic reported during a podcast.
It seems inconceivable that the Warriors could source another Thunder product, but NBA fans have long known and enjoyed the fact that the script can flip as quickly as your grandmother’s favorite soap opera.
And then there’s this: what money will the Dubs sign him with? It would take some serious creativity and financial maneuvering to make that happen, which could include moving a contract (Klay Thompson?) or two. And would he even mesh with the current roster?
I wouldn’t take too much stock in this report. Sure, the Warriors want PG, but that doesn’t mean they can just go get him. They were only able to snag KD because of an incredibly timely salary cap spike. Regardless, it’s not worth worrying about in August. Let’s talk about this closer to the trade deadline. Or, even better, at the season’s end.
Where do the Thunder stack up?
It’s always fun to take a look at where the brain trust of NBA writers places your favorite team. Let’s take a look at where OKC stacks up in their mind:
- NBA analyst John Schumann places them fifth. He points out that the Thunder, 28th in catch-and-shoot situations last season, will immediately benefit from PG’s 60% mark.
- Jared Johnson of FanRag ranks the Thunder sixth, with their offensive dynamism being the biggest factor.
- Grant Hughes of Bleacher Reports also has them at sixth, although he wisely advises that expectations should be tempered — Russell Westbrook’s clutch numbers were incredible last season and will be hard to replicate. Plus, the West has loaded up.
- Uh-oh, triple sixes: Kurt Helin thinks OKC is the sixth-best team. Helin thinks that the Thunder’s defense is their best asset. At their most effective, he says, they could be a threat to the Rockets and (gulp) the Warriors.
Overall, I think fifth or six is about right: there’s no way that the Thunder are better than the Warriors or the Cavs. The Spurs and the Celtics edge them due to pedigree and coaching. The Rockets handily dispatched the Thunder last season, but there is an argument to be made that the two are about even.
If the Cavs implode during the season (likely), the Spurs regress some (unlikely), and the Rockets sputter a bit (as I predict they may), the Thunder will definitely wriggle their way up to the top of the power rankings of many.