Sunday, October 26, 2008

grading on a curve

i watched half of the okc/la game from friday, and carbert was right on with his review. here in a nutshell was the story.

good: russell westbrook.
bad: after leading 4-0, the game pretty much went downhill after that.
ugly: fighting back to take a 41-39 lead, the thunder still trailed 63-53 at the half.

oklahoma city did have some good moments against the lakers and throughout the preseason. given that this is a learning experience, i am going to use the same format to describe the team to date. we'll call it the preseason thunder roll-call.

good: front court play -- veteran presence in smith, collison, and wilcox combined with youth of petro, sene, and swift

less than a month ago this dynamic of the club appeared to be the weakest. there were question marks about who would be the starting center and power forward, and okc even brought in outside help to push the competition. now the only remaining concerns are health related, and those are minor at best.

collison and petro appear to have the starting spots locked up based on performance and a set-back to wilcox. smith is the glue that holds the group together with swift coming on in the last week. throw a healthy sene into the mix, and this is far and away the brighest spot of the preseason.

bad: 3-point shooting -- five was the high mark through seven games played

okc cut the only player who seemed comfortable from behind the arc, and this will remain a topic to watch as the year progresses. if superstar kevin durant has any noticeable flaw, it is his reluctance to play a true shooting guard role. durant knocked down 59 triples last year but shot less than 30 percent doing it.

westbrook has looked willing to play either the one or two, and there was talk during the lakers broadcast of having earl watson and westbrook in the same backcourt. if that were the case, durant could be moved to the small forward position, and jeff green can take the sixth man role. no matter who is on the court for the thunder, someone is going to have to prove they can consistently make shots from the three-point range or comebacks will be non-existent for okc.

ugly: defense -- or the lack of it especially with the guard play

another reason to get westbrook more involved. durant looked awful trying to guard kobe and luckily la had him out of the game before the first quarter was over. i will touch on this subject more before the regular season kicks off against milwaukee, but it hasn't been pretty thus far.

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