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.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.