March 29, 2016, 1:20 pm
The Thunder are making noise, a KAT is on the loose, it’s raining threes, Twitter is causing an uproar and defense is porous. It sounds like the end of the NBA regular season. Let’s see what all of the buzz is about in this week’s edition of my Starting Five:
We think the Warriors could be the best team in NBA history. We think that the Spurs are a well-oiled machine who is unbeatable at home. It’s clear– the West will go to one of these teams right?
The forecast is cloudier than that. These teams should fear the Thunder.
Oklahoma City is the proud home of two MVP-level talents in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. How many teams can legitimately say that? Chris Paul and Blake Griffin— no. LeBron James and either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love— no. Only one team and that’s the Thunder.
The Thunder are red hot after having won eight straight including seven against teams that are currently in the playoffs. Westbrook is having a monstrous season by doing his best Oscar Robertson impression with 15 triple-doubles on the season, which is the most in a season since Michael Jordan in his 1988-89 campaign.
The competitiveness and fire is apparent in every Westbrook “Thunder-dunk”.
Durant is a couple of free throws and threes away from his 2nd 50-40-90 season. He has taken on more responsibility this season by being the de facto Point Guard when Westbrook is on the bench.
Billy Donovan has made it a point to run the offense through either of his stars. No combination of players in the NBA account for a higher percent of their team’s touches in the NBA.
The first-year NBA coach seems to have figured out the rigors that come with transitioning to the NBA and has his team in position for a three seed and a date with the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs. Will they be able to beat San Antonio? They are 2-1 against them this season, although one win came when the Spurs played without LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. With KD and Westbrook, there is always a chance.
We all want to see another overtime game vs. the Warriors. If they play the Warriors, could they win? We have yet to see OKC take down the defending champions this season. They came close twice and were blown out the third time. If the Warriors were to see Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes or Stephen Curry go down, then OKC has a shot. Without that the odds are slim.
The Thunder’s lack of a reliable Shooting Guard allows the Warriors to rest Curry on defense from time-to-time. Covering Westbrook could tire out the Chef, but having him rested keeps the kitchen open longer which spells bad news for OKC.
For now, there’s a chance– but it’s slim.
September 23, 2019, 1:31 pmJoakim NoahC, Memphis Grizzlies
Joakim Noah plans to join workouts with the Clippers this week, per Shams Charania.
Noah hasn't been in the news since he was up for consideration with the Lakers, but he would be a nice bench pickup for the Clippers. They could use a big-bodied center to crash and bang in certain matchups, and Noah would fit in as a strong defender. We'll see if anything comes of this week's workouts.
Source: The Athletic
September 23, 2019, 1:27 pmCarmelo AnthonyPF, Free Agent
As of right now, the Nets are "very unlikely" to sign Carmelo Anthony, according to a report from Shams Charania.
Brooklyn is more likely to sign players that they have worked out recently, with Charania naming Lance Thomas and C.J. Williams as possibilities. At least more people can complain about Melo being unsigned now.
Source: The Athletic
September 23, 2019, 1:20 pmChuma OkekePF, Orlando Magic
According to Shams Charania, the Magic plan to redshirt rookie Chuma Okeke, who is recovering from a torn left ACL.
Earlier in the summer Magic POBO Jeff Weltman said that he believed Okeke could return this season, but there's no rush for him to get back on the court. The 16th overall pick will be able to focus on rehab this season, and he's off the board in all redraft formats.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
September 23, 2019, 1:17 pmChris PaulPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Though the Thunder are prepared to open the season with Chris Paul as a "veteran star and leader," Shams Charania is reporting that the Heat have "a level of interest" in CP3.
The Heat and Paul were said to have mutual interest back when CP3 was first traded to Oklahoma City but the teams couldn't work out a deal. It is now expected that Miami will play out the start of the season and see how things are going before they make a big play for Paul, as acquiring his three years and $124 million would require a trade of major contracts. A deal would certainly improve Paul's fantasy outlook but as it stands he figures to stay on the cusp of early-round production as long as he's on the court, even for a Thunder team that's looking to the future.
Source: The Athletic
September 23, 2019, 1:07 pmAntonio BlakeneySG, Chicago Bulls
Antonio Blakeney has agreed to a deal with Jiangsu in the CBA.
Blakeney was let go by the Bulls a couple weeks ago. A strong scorer at the G-League level, he should be able to drop some huge games in China. We'd expect to hear his name on the mid-season free agency market if all goes well overseas.
September 22, 2019, 9:20 pmFurkan KorkmazSG, Philadelphia Sixers
After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign for the Sixers, Furkan Korkmaz knows this season will be crucial for his future and he is hoping to make big strides this year.
The one thing Korkmaz has going for him is his shooting ability and that is something the Sixers could surely utilize on this roster. It did not click last season, but Korkmaz will get another chance to prove his worth at some point this season. Still, it is hard to picture him coming out of the gate with a big role on opening night.
September 22, 2019, 9:08 pmNikola MiroticPF, Milwaukee Bucks
On Sunday, Nikola Mirotic dropped 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting for Barcelona.
Mirotic's opening appearance for his new EuroLeague club, Barcelona, resulted in a victory, and he did not have to work too hard for most of his buckets at the Supercopa Endesa versus Valencia. Mirotic should find quick success during his return to European basketball, but NBA fantasy players will surely be missing his presence stateside.
September 22, 2019, 8:56 pmBruce BrownSG, Detroit Pistons
Coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown’s defensive play, calling him an ‘elite defender.’
Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.
September 22, 2019, 8:41 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.
Source: New York Post
September 22, 2019, 10:40 amLarry Nance Jr.PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Larry Nance Jr. is the presumed favorite to start at PF heading into training camp according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
Fedor went on to speculate that Nance Jr. could see a lot of time at the four while Kevin Love starts at center and Tristan Thompson and John Henson compete for back up minutes behind those two. Any uptick in playing time would be a huge boost to the per-minute dynamo that Nance Jr is, and a starting role with a new coaching staff bodes well for that. He's trending in the right direction.