Next up in Bloggers Talk is Royce Young, from the fantastic Thunder TrueHoop site, Daily Thunder, which is so cool, they even have their own t-shirts (we need to get some of these on Nets Are Scorching, right folks?).
NAS: Give Nets fans a reason to be optimistic. The Thunder were a young/inexperienced team last season that started terribly and got better as the season went along, and are now hovering around .500. What happened with the Thunder that brought them together and got them playing better and what does the roster need that should boost them up to the next level?
I feel bad. I’m honestly having a hard time finding a connecting factor between the two teams that could give Nets fans reason for optimism. Not to sound like a Laker fan, but OKC has Kevin Durant to build around. New Jersey has… Brook Lopez? That said, the Nets roster has talent and their 2-28 record isn’t a good indicator of the ability of the team. I felt that exact same way about Oklahoma City last year when it was 3-29 on New Year’s Eve. The Thunder made a commitment to starting new in 2009 last year and did so with a solid January and carried it over to a quality 20-30 finish to the season. That should be the goal for New Jersey. Forget 2009 and focus on 2010 and make an effort to build momentum into the offseason.
NAS: On that note, the Thunder just finished a rough part of their schedule where they were 3-5 against many of the league’s top teams. Any moral victories you took away in some of those losses?
The Laker loss at Staples might be a defining game later on. In three games against the defending champs, OKC has lost by just three in two of them. But maybe even more encouraging was the win in Phoenix the following night. After an emotional letdown against the Lakers, the Thunder turned around and beat a Suns team on their home court, a place they had only lost once prior. The most difficult part of the Thunder’s schedule should be behind them now, so pressing on above .500 is very, very exciting.
NAS: What are your thoughts on the Eric Maynor acquisition from Utah? Where does he fit in on Oklahoma City?
I turned my coffee table over and broke a window in excitement. I was a big fan of his before the draft last year and really hoped OKC would target him with its second pick. Utah got him before Presti could, but to get him for virtually nothing is excellent. The Thunder needs a long term backup to play behind Russell Westbrook and a guy that can change the pace. Maynor is definitely that guy.
NAS: Where does Kevin Durant rank in your mind among the best players in the NBA right now?
Disclaimer: I’m a homer. I unabashedly love KD. So keep that in perspective. But I’d put him in the top eight. He can score with anybody – he’ll toss up 34 and you won’t even notice it – but he’s really improved himself defensively. He’s learning how to take over games late. He’s probably not a Tier One player yet, (the LeBron, ‘Melo, Wade, Kobe, Chris Paul stratosphere) but he’s right on top of the Tier Two guys. Keep in mind, he’s just 21. Imagine his skillset when he’s 26. Scary. Well, for other teams.