It’s been some time since our last roundtable, so this week we’ve decided to bring in a couple of new contributors as well as a familiar face or two to discuss some of the recent hot topics in the NBA. We’ll be looking at everything from the Warriors playoff hopes, the Thunder’s challenge without Westbrook, The Knicks chances of taking the East, the Boston Celtics troubles, injures and Jason Collins’ recent news. To kick things off we welcome back Tom Read from the #BelieveTheHype podcast, as well as SidelineAgenda.com contributor and all round sports nut Alex Young, and Houston Rockets/NBA social media commentator Terry Goldfain to the party along with regulars from NBA Nation Australia Nick Caro and Sam Monaghan. Lets go!
Thunder star forward Kevin Durant was ejected late in the 4th quarter of Oklahoma City’s blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets late on Thursday after arguing an illegal screen call on team mate Kendrick Perkins. OKC were down 104-90 at home late in the game when a frustrated Perkins committed the charging screen on Nets’ Gerald Wallace. Durant, clearly unhappy with his team’s performance and the ensuing call, gave the official a verbal spray and bought himself a double technical. Durant was clearly unhappy with the way the Thunder had played throughout the game, especially in the case of guard Russell Westbrook who jacked up 19 shots and had 6 turnovers. Durant has a great reputation in the league, and this ejection is the first of his NBA career.
It came as somewhat of a shock to many on Sunday. Oklahoma City, last year’s runner up and this year’s high hope trading their reigning Sixth Man of The Year and ultimate play maker off the bench. There were predictions of a trade involving said Sixth Man, but few saw it unfolding as dramatically as it did. In the dwindling hours of Sunday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! sports broke the news of a trade that could ultimately change the course of the Western Conference and indeed the NBA as a whole. Fans, teams, officials and players have been left to ponder a decision which may impact the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Championship hopes for at least this year. Here, we take a look at the trade which has seen ‘The Beard’ himself, James Harden accept an offer to join Jeremy Lin at the Houston Rockets, and leave a title hopeful Thunder in his wake.
Howdy folks! We’re back today with the latest team season preview taking a look at Western Conference favorites the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perennial dark horses the Philadelphia 76ers (or will they be?) and southern giant killers the San Antonio Spurs. Enjoy!
Oklahoma City Thunder
How Will They Do?
Oklahoma City are the NBA’s darlings, rising out of the ashes of the Seattle Sonics. Last year they fulfilled what most predicted – making it to the NBA Finals before being steamrolled by the Heat juggernaut. This season brings another series of high expectations and even more challenges. As the Lakers rebuilt and retooled for another assault on the title the Thunder took stock and made very few changes. Last season was an important moment for this franchise as it gave them the irrational confidence that they can now reach the highest heights. The biggest story line coming out of this camp this season will be can they re-sign James Harden? Currently the team is cash strapped. They hold the contracts of Durant, Westbrook, Perkins and Ibaka in their hands. Harden is the icing on this cake, coming off the bench with confidence, fearless determination and one of the best ball handlers in the league. Harden’s presence cements this team atop the Western Conference, without him there is an air of uncertainty. We really like how the Thunder have built upon their roster and given themselves depth at most positions. Collison & Jones backing up Ibaka & Durant as newest Thunder recruit Thabeet brings size off the bench. Harden, Maynor and Cook act as dynamite off the bench lifting the tempo of the team whenever they are on-court. Sure it’s not the deepest team in the league but it’s one of the most reliable, you know what you will get from your bench. Very similar to Moneyball it’s about working your way to a win any way you can. Coach Brooks knows this, has assembled a squad capable of challenging every team in the league. This team is one of the most explosive and dynamic in the league, a League Pass must every night. There is no doubting they have the talent, if they can just sprinkle in a dash of experience (gained from the 2011/12 Finals & Olympics) this team could destroy the Western Conference. Look for them to pick up 55-65 wins this year.
This week we are joined by the 6th man for the Basketball Jones and The Score, Leigh Ellis. Leigh has been working closely with journalists in all areas of the NBA for a number of years and his podcast with JE Skeets and Tas Melas as part of the Basketball Jones are amongst the World’s most popular. Thanks again for coming along, Leigh.