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Online Chat with Mayberry

The Oklahoman’s chief Thunder man Darnell Mayberry held an online chat today.  If you missed it, follow the link to read through the transcript.  By and large, he urges patience for the Thunder faithful.

Power Lunch Chat Recap: Darnell Mayberry


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Darnell Mayberry Online Chat

Today The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry did his regular online chat with Thunder fans.  If you missed it live, you can view the replay transcript here.

Darnell Mayberry Dec. 13 Online Chat

12/9 Daily Links

Solid come-back win last night.  Let’s hope they keep the momentum going to get ready for their rematch against the Hornets.

What the pros are saying:

12/6 Daily Links

Rematch in Chicago tonight.  Bulls are back at full strength.  On your toes, men.

What the pros are saying:

12/2 Daily Links

Sixty-three minutes of NBA action can take a toll on you.  I bet the Thunder players were tired too.

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

  • It really is kind of staggering as to how many times the Thunder found themselves in a hole in the 4th, and each of the OT’s.  What I really liked was the heightened concentration that resulted.  They were very impatient at the beginning of the game, but slowed down and focused when it mattered the most.  And nobody had greater concentration than Jeff Green and his three free throws at the end of the 2nd OT.  Pure ice.
  • Very interesting quote in Sheridan’s piece:
    “Our coaches did a good job of warning us what play they might run, and that’s what they ran and we played it well. We knew that play was coming, and we stopped it” – Russell Westbrook

    If that’s true, then WOW, that’s some pretty amazing game preparation and coaching by Brooks.  Because if you watch the play break down, Westbrook clearly sags off of Farmar as he’s driving to the rim.  Westbrook let him go, knowing that he’d kick it wide to the hot handed Morrow, and the Thunder then successfully trapped him in the corner.  It’s like a classic judo move – let the opponent go the way they want to go, and then use their own force against them.

  • Excellent point about the “Do we foul the man?” debate at the end of regulation.  It will take more coaching and practicing the scenario, but the good rule of thumb is, if the man puts the ball on the court, he cannot simultaneously be in the act of shooting, and it’s safe to foul him.  Morrow dribbled and then shot.  Opportunity missed.  Green caught, elevated, and shot.  Bad foul, even if the shot hadn’t even come close.
  • Green also provided a wonderful template for Durant of all people.  He was far more integrated in the offense, getting Durant-like shots, than Durant has all season.  He was posting up, curling, popping, and slashing to the rim with total control and balance.  He was patient in a way that Durant has not. (Which of course furthers my point that he’s the perfect guy to play 6th man by spelling Durant. They just don’t co-exist well since they play so similarly).
  • Westbrook, best PG?  Not quite yet.  The true test of an elite PG is whether he can dominate a game without taking a shot.
  • I loved the way James Harden stepped up in the game.  He has really good body control.  He started attacking the rim consistently in a way that reminded me a bit of hoops prodigy/NBA disappointment Kenny Anderson, right down to the lefty shot.  Contrast that against Westbrook, who goes at the rim the same way Dwyane Wade does – to inflict maximum punishment.
  • I don’t know if Mo Cheeks will get the nod this year for the HoF.  He had a solid career and is widely known as one of the better PG’s of the 80’s.  One thing that surprises me is how there has been very little discussion so far this year regarding his appearance on the Thunder’s bench and Westbrook’s meteoric rise as a Super-PG.  Correlation? Causation? A little insight would be nice.
  • Last note on Cheeks – even if he doesn’t make it to the HoF, in my mind he’ll be known forever for two things – helping Dr. J win his only NBA championship, and THIS.  Sometimes it is the small moments, away from the fanfare, that shows us who the true men of character really are.

Add another one to the Westbrook jam lexicon.

11/23 Daily Links

Time to rest up.  Dirk and the Mavs are coming to town to spruce up the team’s pre-Thanksgiving plans.

“Oh, I was tired out there” – Jeff Green

“I was definitely winded early” – Kevin Durant

What the pros are saying:

11/22 Chat with Darnell Mayberry

If you missed it live, you can see the transcript here.

Power Lunch Chat with Darnell Mayberry

11/20 Daily Links

A few links from around the league that look at last night’s big win, as well as the upcoming challenge.

What the pros are saying:

Mayberry: 10 Things We’ve Learned

Darnell Mayberry has written up his temperature check of the Thunder so far this season.

You can find the entire list here.

I want to comment on #10:

10) Kevin Durant’s got a long way to go as a playmaker
The face of the franchise entered this season talking about how he wanted to increase his assists and cut down on his turnovers. Through 10 games, Durant has 25 assists and 40 turnovers. We’ve watched Durant — and the offense — when the ball is in his hands, generally resulting in a turnover, a low-percentage shots or a hurried shot with the shot-clock winding down. But that doesn’t mean Durant has failed as a facilitator. In a weird kind of way, he’s actually succeeding. Durant needs to experience these growing pains. He’ll be better because of them later. You can’t suddenly become an effective and efficient set-up man when you’ve never had to do it. Sure, the the turnovers and hurried shots and stagnant offense all serve as one big eyesore now. But when Durant figures it out and evolves from dangerous to deadly two years down the line, we will all have a greater appreciation for his skills because we were there during these moments.

Mayberry is right – Durant’s progress as a playmaker has come with plenty of bumps and bruises, to the point where you wonder if the team were better off not having Durant press the issue so much.  However, just like a rookie quarterback has to throw his picks to learn how a defense reads him, Durant is going to have to learn the hard way what it takes to be a playmaker from the 3-spot.

It takes me back (looks longingly) 9-10 years ago to another young prodigy who had championship skills written all over him, but struggled mightily in learning how to deal with a defense that keyed on stopping him.  This other stretchy fellow:

When Duncan came into the league, teams were not able to contend with his fundamentally flawless post-up game. The Spurs teams rode their twin towers (Duncan with David Robinson) to multiple playoff births and a championship in Robinson’s final year.  It wasn’t until Robinson left that teams were able to exploit Duncan’s lone weakness – he was an indecisive playmaker.

I remember vividly in the playoffs offensive sets where the ball would go into Duncan in the post, and then the play would emerge and pass Duncan by because he could not yet react quickly enough to the situation.  Inevitably he would hold onto the ball too long, the defense would collapse, and the end result was a turnover or poor shot.  I would sit there watching the play unfold, practically yelling at Duncan to get rid of the ball before the help defense came.  How could someone so talented be so flawed in this area? It was painful to watch this big man (imho, the best PF of all time) fail so completely at passing out of the post.

But he learned.

Over time, after enduring playoff losses, Duncan learned how to fix this one hole in his game (well, at least the one hole that didn’t involve an ungarded 13′ shot).  He became deft at swinging the ball in and out of the post, which allowed his teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to excel and the team win multiple rings.

The moral of the story – there is hope.  It probably won’t happen right away, but it can happen.  Tim Duncan learned to be a playmaker.  Durant can too.

11/16 Daily Links

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

  • The “no lead is safe” story is an interesting one.  The NBA has always lent itself well to huge comebacks, simply by virtue of the 24 second shot clock.  It takes two to Tango though; a team won’t come back from a huge deficit simply by shooting lights-out.   It also has to be accompanied by great defense and/or complacency and passivity.
  • In this vein, I don’t think the Thunder’s comeback was purely a function of great shooting.  I think the great shooting was a byproduct of a much more fluid offensive scheme that opened up a lot of good looks.  I also don’t think it was limited to the 3rd quarter.  If you look back at the game, the flow started in the 2nd quarter, when Eric Maynor was running the show (Westbrook was in foul trouble). I think he and then later Royal Ivy need to get recognition for improving the offensive momentum.
  • The early season malaise appears to be subsiding, and the Thunder are emerging stronger having had to deal with the injuries and foul trouble.  They now have a potentially very deep bench.  The question will be how the players take to their roles, which are still being defined.