Archive - April 2017

Who is the worst Thunder player ever?

Oklahoma City just finished up their ninth season. Oklahoma City has seen some fantastic players come through and some truly bad players. However, has been the worst of them all?

To set down a list of worst players of all-time, we have to need criteria:

Anyone can be really bad player in only couple of games. We need to limit it to at least 20 games played.

We’ll choose one person from every season, so that would narrow it down to nine players. If it’s the same player in multiple years, we’ll label them such Player 2010 and Player 2011.

We’ll factor in PER, PPG, FG%, eFG%, TS%, ORTG-DRTG adjustment, and RPM. We’ll give them a number ranking based on the team, and whoever has the HIGHEST average, meaning worst on the team, will be the worst.

Seasons in which a player is traded are ineligible for the list. Such as Kyle Singler’s first year in Oklahoma City in 2014-15, he was bad but since he was traded at the all-star break, he’s out. We’ll make a single exception, if said player appeared in 50 or more games.

Any player who spent time in the D-League that season is not out. Because you can go down and still come back up and perform.

So, without waiting, here are each worst player for each season.

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Kyle Singler’s season can only be better next season

Marred by a contract that at the time was lucrative, Kyle Singler has yet to reach expectations during his time in Oklahoma City.

He was a given sharpshooter in Detroit for the Pistons. Getting him with D.J. Augustin for Reggie Jackson appeared to be a steal. He was going to be this stretch three to come off the bench and help Kevin Durant rest. Then, Kevin was hurt and was expected to step into this starting role. While he did step into the starting role, it never panned out and was quickly relegated to the bench.

This season in 32 appearances and two starts, Singler averaged 2.8 points per game on 41 percent shooting and 18.9 percent from three, not a typo.

Singler is a capable defender. He has some length that allows him to guard the perimeter on players who play the three or four, and occasionally the two. However, he’s not a good enough defender to look past what he does on the offensive side.

“I work my entire life to get to the point where I am today,” Singler said. “Of course I want to do the best I can.”

In his three seasons in Oklahoma City, his numbers continue to descend to the depth of worst in the NBA. His 18.9 percent is the worst in the NBA, among players who played in at least 25 games. Singler played in 32 games.

While his defensive rating of 108 is slight respectable, it’s not nearly enough to warrant quality minutes. Though, playing 2-3 minutes per 10 games isn’t exactly helping a confident level. Singler last season did things such as floating tank and meditation to get his mind right.

“There are a few things to try and put into the summer program,” Singler said. “The main thing is spending time in the gym and weight room to refine basketball skills.”

With three years left on his contract, two are guaranteed and the third being a team option, Singler’s time for showing he’s an NBA player is running out.

His PER (Player Efficient Rating) is 5.9, sixth worst among players who played in at least 25 games.

Though, it may not appear Singler is in any rush to get to the best basketball point since he joined Oklahoma City.

“There is nothing more satisfying that you’re putting time into your craft, something you love, the growth you can see in yourself,” Singler said.

Singler is going to his brother’s wedding this summer. Maybe time away from the basketball gym will do him some good. Maybe clearing his mind and enjoying his family will benefit him when he returns. Because in his current form, Singler is a wasted body on a team that’s rebuilding.

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Nick Collison not ready to call quits just yet

Nick Collison, a 12-year veteran and Oklahoma City Thunder lifer, made it clear in his exit interview he’s not quite done playing just yet.

“I plan to play for sure, I didn’t know how I would feel at the end of year, but I still enjoy playing,” Collison said. “I enjoy being around the group and being on the team.”

Nick also talked about how he knows the organization will be busy this off-season, and how he loves playing for this team.

Even though it is true the Thunder have plenty to do to continue building the team, it will have to be a priority to signing back Collison if that is what he wants.

Collison has been apart of this organization since his rookie year, and is a big leader, especially in the locker room. He will definitely retire soon, and Oklahoma City knows it needs to be in a Thunder uniform when he does.

Collison went on to admit that he didn’t know what to expect this season, with everything that happened last summer.

“It was really unknown,” Collison said of his team’s expectations. “We were competitive every night, and it ended up being a very satisfying year.”

Collison then mentioned how Westbrook’s leadership led the way for the Thunder this season.

“Russell was great in giving us direction. It was like, here we go, let’s get this thing rolling,” Collison added. “Just the way he [Westbrook] competes, and just what he is like around the guys. He always has been right there.”

Collison averaged 6.4 minutes per game and only 1.7 points per game, all lows of his career.

Throughout his career, Collison has been one of the league’s best veterans and has continued to grow his popularity despite his decreased play. Known for taking charges and being bloody as if he was a hockey player, Collison’s niche is unique. There aren’t many players throughout the league that would give their bodies to the game the way he has.

” I think there’s still a place for what I do,” Collison said.

Indeed, the team benefited not only from great leadership from Westbrook, but having a guy like Collison in the locker room is also very beneficiary. It will be nice to have Collison back next season, continuing to be a veteran’s vet and helping grow this young Thunder team.

“I still think I have something to offer,” Collison said.

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Westbrook excited about the future

Russell Westbrook sat at the podium in the Integris Thunder Development Center wearing an all-black Air Jordan outfit. Atop his head, he wore a black bucket hat with cut-out labels reading “Why” “Not” and “Why not?” spread over it.

“Why not” has been the theme for Westbrook his entire life. But it has taken on new life with the 2016-17 campaign.

Back in the summer of 2016 when dreams of the Oklahoma City Thunder winning the NBA Finals were dashed with the departure of Kevin Durant, all eyes pointed to the remaining star. What would he want now? What would Sam Presti and the Thunder do with him? The future was suddenly a dark place for Thunder fans.

Then Westbrook said “Why not?” and signed an extension with the team that drafted him and chose to lead his squad.

While the season brought a historical run not seen since the Kennedy Administration, the ending did not result in Westbrook’s or the team’s ultimate desire. Despite this, the team proclaimed “King of the Prairie” is happy with his status and the team’s future.

“We’ve got a group of guys that love to work and I know we are going to come back ready,” Westbrook said to the media. “Obviously, everyone knows I love Oklahoma City and I love being here. It’s a place I want to be.”

Those words come as catnip to an ever-hungry fanbase ready to find more ways to praise their All-Star point guard.

As Westbrook addressed the media about the team, his impending parent-status and attending the NBA Awards Show in June, his personal future with the contract extension that will surely be offered to him this offseason was not a topic he had thought of.

“I haven’t thought about it just yet,” Westbrook replied.

While NBA and Thunder fans have heard similar answers to similar questions like this in the past, Westbrook did not speak like a man who is thinking about greener pastures.

“Sam (Presti) has done an amazing job and I trust in his abilities to be able to put guys here who want to be here and who want to win a championship,” Westbrook said when asked about if he would take a role in helping reshape the roster.

“If he (Presti) wants to talk to me, we have a relationship where we can.”

There will certainly be a large temperament of emotions when it comes to the long-term future of the Thunder’s superstar, Westbrook seems to appreciate his team, city and fans. He even shared his thoughts on the importance of Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson coming to Oklahoma City this season.

“For guys of that caliber to come to Oklahoma City I think is great for the people, the fans and our team is something I’ve never dreamed about and I am very thankful for.”

To say that Westbrook is eager to get back onto the court would be a lie. He will become a father in May. His fashion endeavors will take up a chunk of the offseason. But its apparent that the MVP candidate is in need of some R&R.

“Resting is something I take very seriously,” Westbrook shared. “Resting my mind and my body so I am able to remain consistent and play at a high level.”

After averaging a triple-double, it is safe to say no one will blame him for wanting a short break.

As we inch closer to another pivotal offseason for the Thunder, questions remain. Will Presti work more draft night magic to improve the team? Will these moves entice Westbrook to sign another long-term deal? If the latter does not happen, what then?

Whatever scenario, Westbrook is confident in the team now. He spoke about how much pride he derived from the team rallying around one another after Durant’s departure and the subsequent “left for dead” comments from the basketball media world.

To believe Westbrook will stay or go is up for debate. But Westbrook’s confidence grows in the team, himself and the front office, why not believe he will be the Thunder star for years to come?

Why not?

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Kanter praises organization and fans ahead of big offseason

Enes Kanter’s exit-interview was littered with ups and downs before the Thunder’s upcoming tumultuous offseason.

Kanter’s interview, which can be viewed online, allowed Kanter to bring the media and fans along throughout his recount of his rollercoaster season.

One of those lowest points of his season could have happened after Kanter punched a chair out of frustration, breaking his arm. 

Kanter recounted his emotions after first seeing his broken arm on x-ray film, saying the event left him feeling mentally numb.

“I felt like I left them alone,” Kanter said of his teammates. “But I think that I came back in pretty good shape.”

Kanter’s early-season production placed him in early contention for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, but he was ultimately removed from the discussion after the injury.

Kanter’s somber tone would only show during the time talking about his injury, however, as he spent the majority of his time at the podium with an upbeat attitude.

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable discussions for Kanter on Wednesday was when he showed the media a blooper-reel of his promotional video campaigning for Russell Westbrook’s MVP case.

Kanter said the video took a lot of takes, but was also a lot of fun.

Kanter’s attitude and body language were paramount interests to some as the Thunder look to their first full opportunity to build a team around Russell Wesbtrook. The Thunder’s front office has a lot of decisions in the coming months about the state of the team, but none more so glaring than what to do with Enes Kanter.

Kanter, while a fan-favorite and the true definition of a team-first player, is a defensive liability on a poorly-structured contract. Kanter’s offensive ability is deserving of the current contract, but his defensive inability makes his contract hard to defend.

Although some of Kanter’s perceived defensive struggles could be attributed to a national media narrative gone serial, his inability to sufficiently defend the basket was on full display during the Thunder’s five-game series with the Rockets.

Kanter highlighted a difficulty in understanding the defensive scheme in that series because of a change in pick-and-roll coverage. The Thunder changed to a drop coverage, something he’d never done before, Kanter said

Kanter wasn’t bothered with his severe reduction in minutes, however, stating, “Sometimes you’re going to play 10 minutes, sometimes you play 30 or 40 minutes, but one thing you can always do is try and cheer for your teammates, try and give them positive energy.”

Regardless of the decisions the organization will make in the upcoming offseason, Kanter made one thing clear: He loves the state of Oklahoma.

Kanter, who Turkish family disowned him for his politic beliefs, said the whole state feels like home to him. “I love this organization, and I can’t say enough about the fans,” Kanter said. “But I can’t control it; Its not in my hands.”

Kanter’s upbeat attitude and demeanor during the exit-interview made it his statements of adoration for the fans and organization seem true, and that makes it even harder to swallow the thought of moving him to somewhere else.

But, as we all learned last summer, basketball is a business.

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OKC Blue: Dakari Johnson named First Team All D-League

Oklahoma City Blue center Dakari Johnson was selected to the 2016-17 All-NBA Development League First Team, it was announced on Tuesday.

In 49 games (all starts) Johnson led the Blue to its first Southwest Division title, as he averaged a team-leading 18.5 points per game and ranked second on the team with 7.9 rebounds a game. He set career highs in points, assists (2.3), blocks (1.27) and field goal percentage (.557) in the regular season.

His assists ranked first among all centers in the league and he contributed a career-high 13 double-doubles, while scoring in double figures 45 times.

The center was named Performer of the Week twice and was named the Player of the Month for November. He was also selected to the D-League All Star Game for the first time in his career.

Johnson is the first player in franchise history to be named to the First Team.

Other members of the 2016-17 All-NBA D-League First Team include Keith Benson (Sioux Falls), Vander Blue (Los Angeles), Quinn Cook (Canton) and Edy Tavares (Raptors 905).

Johnson was drafted 48th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the University of Kentucky.

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Did the Thunder meet your expectations?

The Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated in five games by the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. Oklahoma City still won 47 regular season games and most likely will have the MVP on the roster when the season starts next year.

On top of that, Oklahoma City was essentially rebuilding their roster. They still made the playoffs, despite everything Kyle Singler tried to do in hopes to sabotage it. A lot of people are upset… well more sad the Thunder have been eliminated. That said, what are your expectations? Did Oklahoma City meet them or did you feel Oklahoma City under achieved, despite everything that went on this season? It’s your turn to vote.

Go ahead and comment on our Facebook and Twitter, and let us know your thoughts. Also, vote in our poll below:

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Abrines already focused on the off-season

It’s been different type of ride for Alex Abrines. After spending years in Europe, playing for a Spanish club, he finally made his way across the pond after being drafted by the Thunder. This season, his official rookie year, he’s had ups and downs but overall, the Spaniard has benefited during his time in Oklahoma City.

“It took me two to three weeks to understand how they play here,” Abrines said.

With that, his playing time fluctuated, too. He played only 24 total minutes his first four games with the Thunder. However, his sharp shooting ability finally shined through and Thunder head coach Billy Donovan has really been forced to play Abrines more than maybe he was comfortable with due to his defense. His three-point sharp shooting ability has pushed him into a rotational player.

“I thought I did a great job,” Abrines said.

Only 23, Abrines often spends his summer with the Spanish national team, but will spend this summer training in Oklahoma City with the Thunder staff, instead of traveling to Orlando to play in the Summer league with the other young players on the team.

“I get a couple of months to work, that’s never happened,” Abrines said.

Abrines struggled as a defender this year, often outmatched or unable to keep up with a faster two-guard, Abrines has his summer cut out for him. His defensive rating of 110 leaves a lot to be desired. Expect Abrines to hop into the weight room and try to not be so out-muscled as much next season.

“I know I’m still not the best defender,” Abrines said. “I’ll keep trying to be the best defender I can.”

Abrines averaged 6.0 points on 38.1 percent from three-point range. He averaged 1.4 threes made on 3.6 attempts. The playoffs weren’t nearly as kind to Abrines as he only shot 29.4 percent from three, averaging 4.8 points.

“I know I can help put the ball on the floor and get penetration,” Abrines said. “I know I can do more things than being just a shooter.”

That’s what you want to hear from a young pup who’s still getting his NBA leagues underneath him. Listening to Abrines, you can just hear the hunger to improve for next season.

“I’m really happy to be here,” Abrines said. “I can’t wait to move forward to next season.”

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Taj Gibson would like to return to OKC

Players often say the right things during exit interviews. They talk about sacrificing for the team. They talk about the organization and how class act it is. How wonderful it is to play with [insert player] here. All of that is press speak.

During our time in Oklahoma City, we’ve heard it all. This Thunder U. type of atmosphere that once budded a group walking from the practice to a movie, to everyone doing their own thing now a days is gone. The days since James Harden talked about sacrificing to Kevin Durant saying he’s going stay in Oklahoma City forever are done and we are no longer falling for all of those lines.

“My world was rocked when I was traded but luckily I came to a first class organization,” Gibson said.

Taj Gibson, acquired at the trade deadline, said all of the right things during his exit interviews. He’s become a fan favorite due to his nose-to-the-grind attitude and no excuses demeanor.

“I wanted to let Sam know I wanted to be here,” Gibson said.

Gibson averaged 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds on 49.7 percent shooting since the trade to Oklahoma City this season. Along with Doug McDermott, Oklahoma City really thrived after the break, going 14-9.

“I had a long talk with Sam and coach Billy,” Gibson said. “First class organization. Hope I can be back.”

Gibson, 31, has been in the playoffs almost ever year he’s been in the NBA. He was a blessing to Oklahoma City. He provided stability to a position where Oklahoma City struggled throughout the season. For Gibson, he’s going to do what’s best for himself, not organization, despite how first class it is.

Will Gibson take a pay cut and head to a strong title contender, maybe a Cleveland or even, gulp, a Golden State? Maybe. Players want a ring to secure their legacy. You get into this league to win a ring and we judge everyone by their career due to their ring count. Gibson could command some real money if he chose to take what he’s worth. He’s expected to make around $9 million in upcoming free agency, which would max out what the Thunder could afford.

For the Thunder, if Gibson returns to Bricktown, Oklahoma City will have a pillar of stability in what has become a season of transition. Gibson fits the motto Oklahoma City wants in their players. He respects hard work and respects his teammates.

Even if Gibson doesn’t come back to Oklahoma City, his words are glowing about Oklahoma City.

“This city has some great fans,” Gibson said. “Everywhere I go kind words Going to the Memorial. Tells me why players should want to come here.”

The city would be lucky to keep Gibson.

Gibson would be lucky to stay in Oklahoma City.

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Five Thoughts: Thunder epilogue

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2016-17 campaign came to an end last night as the Houston Rockets won the best of seven series in five games.

These five thoughts will focus more upon the season as a whole and not specifically on the playoff series.

THANK YOU, MR. WESTBROOK

In the wake of a disastrous Fourth of July for Oklahoma City fans, Russell Westbrook provided Thunder nation — and quite frankly the rest of the basketball world — a historic season that will not be soon forgotten.

Triple-double streaks, tying Oscar Robertson’s 55-year old record at the Chesapeake Energy Arena and eventually breaking it. The last-second heroics against Dallas, Orlando and Denver. Not to mention dominant wins against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers and eventual Eastern Conference first-seed Boston Celtics on the road.

One of the most amazing performances by an individual player in league history.

But what Thunder fans will cherish most is the fact that Westbrook made it great to wear Oklahoma City on your chest. With Kevin Durant gone and the future of the team up in the air, Westbrook lived by his mantra of “Why Not?” and remained loyal to help lead a young team into the future.

DESPITE YOUNG ROSTER, FRANCHISE MENTALITY MUST CHANGE

The Thunder were the youngest team in the 2016-17 playoffs. Typically a playoff appearance and a young roster provide optimism moving forward. That shouldn’t be what the franchise should lean on.

Over the years, Sam Presti has prided himself and the team on building through the draft and developing young talent. They have most certainly done that. That luxury went out the window and straight to Oakland over the summer however. With Westbrook leading the way as the lone star, Presti can no longer look a few years down the road. The future is now.

In the past, Presti would think twice about hiring veteran mercenaries to improve obvious team needs over developing young talent. In order to keep Westbrook in the fold, a shift in mentality must take place.

A core of Westbrook-Oladipo-Adams is fine. Hoping that Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines or Domantas Sabonis all make huge leaps to become more reliable compliments is no longer a luxury the Thunder can lean on solely.

The Thunder may have to get older. They may have to give up a young piece they enjoy for more mature skill-sets. Something must be done in order to keep Westbrook.

MAY BE THE LAST TIME WE SEE CERTAIN PLAYERS IN A THUNDER UNIFORM

Those names are well-documented.

Enes Kanter trade rumors have been rampant since his second season with Oklahoma City. Taj Gibson is an unrestricted free-agent. Nick Collison could retire. Andre Roberson enters the first offseason of uncertainty in his young career.

Not surprisingly, all names listed stated their desire to return to the Thunder next year. As Oklahoma City fans know, business tends to get in the way of what people may want.

This doesn’t even include players that could be moved in potential deals during the offseason. Needless to say, this team could have a very different makeup when they report back for training camp in a few months.

VICTOR OLADIPO

This was a player many were excited for when the trade went down. Of course, Durant was still believed to be returning to the Thunder at the time. Some may have not properly tempered their expectations accordingly when projecting a Westbrook-Oladipo backcourt going into the year.

Despite that, the former lottery pick had a fine season. He adjusted to the number two role well after being the guy in Orlando for three years. His efficiency numbers improved and he became well ingrained into the Thunder organization.

Many will remember his poor performance in the playoffs — Oladipo’s first experience in the postseason as an NBA player. For Oklahoma City to take that next step in competing in the West, Oladipo must learn from his near-nightmare experience in the playoffs and improve.

He has the talent and mentality to do so.

MVP

We all know he won it. We just have to wait for June for Drake (massive eye-roll) to call his name at the NBA Awards Show.

The playoffs did not yield the result fans or the team wanted. But the 2016-17 season will be a year that many will carry with them as they age. This was history, and we were all apart of it.

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