The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young team and they’re cultivating a young fan base. Fans of the Sonics that were are largely bitter over the franchise’s move to Oklahoma, and rooting for the team (and by association, the owner) that broke their hearts translates as some betrayal of the most core of fan values.
So when the Thunder began last season, they began an attempt to woo the people of Oklahoma, which is anything but a basketball state. Football will always come first, second, and third, and though Kevin Durant and company are about as charismatic as they come, it’s something of a miracle that the Thunder have not only assembled such a large fan base so quickly, but that fans of the team are already developing a fierce loyalty to the organization and its players.
Winning (OKC is 35-23, good for 6th in the West) certainly helps, as does employing one of the most phenomenal talents in basketball. The core of the team is young, they’re getting better by the day, and the talent and effort level for the Thunder on a nightly basis makes them one of the most entertaining teams in the league.
OKC’s stock is rising in every conceivable way but one. Despite the meteoric improvements made this season, the Thunder will not be raising season ticket prices for next season. That means that fans who bought tickets to see a team that won 28% of its games a year ago will be paying the same price to watch a team that’s winning over twice as much now. It’s a pretty swell gesture from the business side of things in OKC, and a reward for the rapid and rabid Thunder fan base.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.