Coaches and players almost never stray from the “I don’t care who we face in the playoffs, it’s about us doing our thing” mantra. Which is a load of fertilizer, by the way — they all know the playoffs are about matchups and they want to get the more favorable ones. They just won’t talk about it publically.
But George Karl of the Nuggets did, as transcribed on ESPN Dallas.
“If we had to pick and choose on it, we would probably say 55 percent Dallas, 45 percent Oklahoma City, only because Oklahoma City is athletic like we are and they have two great players,” Denver coach George Karl told ESPN 103.3’s Galloway and Company, referring to Thunder forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell.
“They have two All-Stars who are really in their prime and have never won on the playoff stage. I just think right now our speed might have more effect against Dallas than it will against Oklahoma City.”
The Thunder and Nuggets play for the second time in four games Friday, with Oklahoma City getting a 101-94 win Tuesday. Denver had nobody who could slow Kevin Durant and then the Thunder went on a 16-0 fourth quarter run that the Nuggets could not match. The game gave you the feeling OKC could replicate that win four times in a series.
So you can see why Karl would prefer Dallas. Also, Karl is speaking to a general perception around the league — teams fear Oklahoma City’s potential and high end more than they do Dallas. The Mavs are a veteran team and you know what you are going to get with them. The Thunder are more athletic, they run the floor like gazelles, they have Durant and Russell Westbrook, either of which can just take over a game.
OKC may not live up to that potential this season. But with Kendrick Perkins (and Nazr Mohammed) the Thunder addressed one weakness. They seem to be getting better.
The Nuggets scare teams, too, but the way the Thunder dispatched the Nuggets the other night made it seem like that is a series OKC would win. So Karl wisely wants to take his chances elsewhere.
This upcoming season will be a huge test for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins.
After a couple years of steady improvement, it appeared that Wiggins started to level off in his third season. Yes, he increased his 3-point shooting percentage but dips in his free-throw rate and VORP were a tad disappointing considering his usage even as he contributed more points per-game. Many in Minnesota expected him to be a superstar, and now it’s possible he ends up simply as a perennial rotation guy.
Still, the new season for the Timberwolves should be pretty interesting as they have added new pieces to the roster, including former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler.
The video above includes 10 of Wiggins’s best plays from the 2016-17 NBA season. Hopefully Wiggins will be able to build on this type of play as the roster around him and gets better and expectations rise.
Doc Rivers no longer has the hammer on trades and player moves in Los Angeles, that has been wisely handed over to Lawrence Frank, the team’s new president of basketball operations. He has Jerry West as a consultant — who will have the owner’s ear — working with him.
Frank now has a new right-hand guy, one of the better respected, up-and-coming front office people in the league, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The LA Clippers have offered Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger its general manager’s job, league sources told ESPN. A deal could be finalized soon, league sources said…
Winger, 37, has spent the past seven years with Oklahoma City, working closely with Executive Vice President and GM Sam Presti.
ESPN’s Thunder reporter Royce Young chipped in with this.
This is a good hire by the Clippers, bringing a smart young executive from a well-respected organization into the fold to help energize their front office.
This past summer the Clippers lost Chris Paul (traded to Houston, because he was leaving as a free agent otherwise), locked up Blake Griffin long-term, and now have to decide on a future direction. DeAndre Jordan has a player option next summer, do the Clippers want to max him out or move another direction? The Clippers need to inject some younger, more athletic players into their roster and move out of the win-now, trade youth for vets mode Rivers had them in. The Clippers have done a poor job developing young talent and using that to supplement their stars (something teams like the Warriors and Spurs have done well over the years).
Winger should help change that dynamic.
I’m not sure it’s possible to argue that LeBron James is not the most important player in the NBA, even in 2016-17.
Yes, others have won the MVP award in years past, but each and every postseason you understand just how important LeBron is to every roster he is on. NBA players even voted him as the player they would most secretly want on their team.
That’s why it’s pretty easy to galvanize that opinion when you watch a 20-minute highlight video of LeBron’s best plays from each game of the past season.
Summer is upon us and even preseason seems like a long way off. Thankfully, we will be able to get to see plays like this here in what feels like the near future.
I think we’ve all been in the situation that C.J. McCollum found himself in recently.
Whether you are a hardcore NBA fan, a blogger, a professional writer, or a basketball player, when folks interested in the league find out about your passion, they often try to connect with you about it. Which is great! Especially as sometimes you get cats like the one who was driving the Portland Trail Blazers star guard in the video below.
Now, I have to warn you about some NSFW language, but what the guy had to say was pretty great. Hilarious, even.
The topics ranged from superstars being on the same team, to hating the Golden State Warriors, to the future success of the Blazers themselves.
Again, some extremely NSFW language ahead but also some serious laughs to be had.
I’m dying. This guy is the best.