In the last three games, Kevin Durant has scored 115 points, drawn 32 fouls and committed three charges.
Not only is he carrying the Thunder’s offense, he’s taking a beating to do it.
That probably won’t change in Game 6 with Russell Westbrook out for the rest of the playoffs.
Reggie Jackson showed signs of helping, scoring 20 points in Game 5, but a majority of those came in the fourth quarter while Durant didn’t score a single point. Can they mesh together?
Kevin Martin shot 1-for-10 in Game 5, and he made a third or fewer of his shots in three of the series’ other four games. Serge Ibaka has been up and down offensively, and at this point, that might just be the expectation.
At best, Jackson, Martin or Ibaka emerges as a No. 3-quality scorer next to Durant. Durant will just have to fill the No. 1 and No. 2 roles himself.
It’s a huge burden, and it might be weighing on Durant, considering how he disappeared in the fourth quarter of Game 6. But Durant is still the second-best player in the NBA, and he can lift his team past the Rockets, whose own star, James Harden, will have to do more without Carlos Delfino.
At some point, Durant will wear down from this strategy, probably in round two. But if it happens sooner, the Thunder might not make it even that far.
Nets reportedly extend Caris LeVert on 3-year, $52.5 million deal
The Brooklyn Nets have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, and that’s going to be important for the next half-decade or so. Those two players will shoulder the bulk of Brooklyn’s championship hopes over that time frame.
But so too is it important for the Nets to keep a strong team around its superstars. Too many teams seem to end up top heavy as they try to chase championships year after year.
To that end, Brooklyn has reportedly signed their own budding star Caris LeVert to an extension that takes him through 2023.
LeVert’s extension is worth a reported $52.5 million, which makes him reasonably paid within the team context and should give him a chance to cash out yet again before he hits age 30.
This season will be an interesting look into how LeVert and Irving work together on the floor without Durant. They can get into some kind of rhythm and find an understanding between them, which is going to be vital for when Durant eventually returns in 2020.
Team USA sees betting odds in World Cup skew downward
Serbia seems like a pretty good shot to usurp the throne for the United States. Nikola Jokic has said that he wants his team to medal, but no doubt he and his squad will be looking for a gold medal.
The United States is suffering from a lack of continuity and star power. That might not matter given that Gregg Popovich is still the head coach and USA Basketball far out matches other countries in terms of raw talent.
But as we saw in 2004, talent doesn’t trump all when it comes to Team USA. The door is open for other countries to grab the top spot for the time being, and oddsmakers think so as well.
Rui Hachimura, the Gonzaga star drafted ninth by the Washington Wizards, is having a blast this summer playing for his native Japan as their national team gears up for the World Cup in China starting in one week.
However, he may never have been more pumped than when his friend, legendary sumo wrestler Hakuho, came out in his robes and drained a free throw.
Sumo wrestler Hakuho hit a free throw and his friend Rui Hachimura got excited. 34 year-old Hakuho is the LeBron James of the sumo. He has dominated sumo for over a decade pic.twitter.com/8lhk8nNqML
I need to see a sumo wrestler pickup game now more than I need anything else in my life. I want to see the battle for post position.
Hachimura has played well for Japan, he dropped 31 points on Germany in the final tuneup game for the World Cup, showing off a comfort level from the midrange that is impressive. He hit shots off the dribble and on the catch.
Hachimura and Japan are in the same group as Team USA in the World Cup, and the two teams face off Sept. 3 in Shanghai.
Enes Kanter says he might add ‘American’ name once he’s a U.S. citizen (VIDEO)
Enes Kanter has been dealing with being a man without a country for some time. The Turkish-born Boston Celtics center has openly criticized Turkish president Recep Erdoğan, And as such he is no longer welcome back in his home country.
In fact, Kanter didn’t have a valid Turkish passport this past spring, so the question of whether he might be able to re-enter the United States if he went to Canada was raised by several Portland Trail Blazers fans, including Senator Ron Wyden.
Kanter has been in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen for some time, and he appears close to that goal. As such, Kanter mentioned this week that he might add an “American” name onto his name when that happens.
Speaking to TMZ, Kanter said that, “I’m actually becoming a U.S. citizen in two years: I’m actually thinking about adding an American name. I’m still thinking about it. I don’t know yet.”
One of the newest Celtics, Kanter appears to have a diplomatic way about him and the ability to network with folks higher up. Given amount of time, resources, and potential political power behind him as an NBA player, there is hope that he will become an U.S. citizen.
Whether Kanter really wants to add an ”American” name — whatever that’s supposed to mean — is anyone’s guess. One of the founding principles of this country is the concept of the melting pot, and so a great American name for Enes Kanter would be… Enes Kanter.