For the past few weeks, Kevin Durant has been carrying the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But is he also carrying the ball?
Washington beat the Oklahoma City on Saturday night, snapping the Thunder’s 10-game win streak mostly because they held the super-efficient Durant to an 8-of-21 shooting night.
Then after the game Wizards big man Nene threw out this little barb when J. Michael of CSNWashington.com asked how they slowed KD down.
“First of all, pray,” he said of how the Wizards were able to hold Durant to 8-for-21 shooting. “Second, have good luck. The third do your best. That dude is very skilled, long body, tall, skinny but strong for that kind of body — and the referees are allowing him to carry the ball.”
The first sign you’ve hit it really big? Everyone starts taking shots at you. Congratulations KD, you’ve finally made it.
I went and looked at some video of Durant coming off the pick-and-roll, plus as the ball handler in transition to see if he does carry and my thought is no more than anyone else in the league.
Part of it is Durant’s length creates the perception of hit because he can come off a pick and keep the ball a little farther away from his body if he wants. The way he moves with the ball when attacking can make it look like a carry at times — but the same is true of Tony Parker and John Wall, not to mention pretty much every guy with a good crossover in the league.
When Durant is idly dribbling the ball out top as the play sets up, you could argue he does carry it at times. If you want a strict interpretation of the rule.
But if you’re going to call KD on that you’re going to start calling half the guys in the league for the same thing because you’re changing how the rule is enforced. And certainly one thing that would make the NBA more fun is more referee whistles. Can’t get enough of those.
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.