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Can Thunder Compete for a Championship?

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Unless you are living under a rock, you have heard that Kevin Durant jumped ship to tag on the Warriors’ “Golden” squad.

And, thus began the rumbling noise that Golden State was already NBA champions, and we should just skip 2016-17 NBA season altogether. However, in the midst of Durant’s departure, and the preparations for the Summer Olympics in Rio, Russell Westbrook made headlines.

The fiercest competitive force of nature in the NBA was described as “ticked off”, and he’s “eager for the season to start,” says Anthony Slater for The Oklahoman.

So, despite feeling betrayed by his long-time running mate, presumably because of his playing style, Russell Westbrook is ready for blood, figuratively speaking.

“Westbrook has given the Thunder no indication that he currently wants out,” says Slater in his piece for The Oklahoman, which should not surprised fans because that attitude is precisely why so many people love Russ. In a situation, where arguably the best basketball player on the planet leaves your team to join the greatest team of all-time, most players, superstars included, would have left, but not Russ.

So, with Russ in attack mode, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, a promising young coach in Billy Donovan, great leadership provided by Maurice Cheeks and Monty Williams, and the newly acquired Victor Oladipo, can the Thunder compete out west?

The Thunder as presently constructed is a legitimate playoff caliber team, but can they compete against Golden State, San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Clippers? They can, but they would be the underdog in any of these hypothetical series.

Since Durant’s departure, Oklahoma City has fallen from possibly being the team to beat in the West, to the second-tier teams, but it is not crazy to imagine the Thunder making a deep playoff run.

After the three teams aforementioned, who is left? The Mavericks, Rockets, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers are legitimate playoff caliber teams. The Suns, Jazz, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Kings, and Nuggets all can play the dark horse, but they have too many questions to be considered legitimate playoff caliber teams.

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The 2016-17 Oklahoma City Thunder team can compete against those teams on a nightly basis, and, even, eliminate them in the playoffs.

Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder might have been the best thing that has happened to Russ, because Russ will wreak havoc on the league, and he will show us why he is one of the best players in the game.

For the first time in his career, Russ won’t have to hear about how he needs to understand that it is not his team, or that the offense flows better when someone else runs the show.

Russ will have the greenest light he’s ever had, and the NBA is about to witness his wrath, especially when the Warriors visit Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Russ will be a triple-double machine while shutting down the opposing team’s point guard.

A few days prior to Durant’s decision, Oklahoma City traded Serge Ibaka to Orlando for Victor Oladipo, and the newly drafted Domantas Sabonis.

Victor Oladipo will fill a void that has been a problem in Oklahoma City for years, a good two-way shooting guard player. A year ago, Oladipo averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists for the Orlando Magic. He brings a key element to the game of basketball that the Thunder have not had since James Harden was in town.

And, in the deal, OKC also received Domantas Sabonis, a 6-foot-11 inches tall power forward from Gonzaga University who averaged 17.6 points, and 11.8 rebounds per game, last year. Sabonis brings size, and an inside presence that Ibaka used to bring to the table.

Everyone is jumping off the Thunder’s bandwagon, but this team is good enough to make the playoffs, and compete out west, but ultimately they will go as far as Russ can carry them. It’s his team now, something he’s always wanted.

It’s his time to show the world, he can shoulder the load…

NBA

Is Isaiah Thomas IT For The Lakers?

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Usa Today 10601289.0
IT Came On A Hollywood Night

It’s All-Star break this weekend in Los Angeles, but the Lakers already have a new one since the trade deadline to lead their young core in the heart of the city. Even if Team LeBron didn’t pick him for Sundays pick up.

But how long will IT last?

Right now in the NBA the amount of movers is really putting the shakers on teams. So much so that in regards to loyalty in this league it’s even colder than the Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea right now. But then again it is the Winter after all. Recently Cleveland cleaned house and LeBron’s land for some Cavalier moves. Jettisoning several All-Star points for their changing of the guard. Including former MVP Derrick Rose, ‘Bron brodie Dwyane Wade back to the Heat of Miami, South Beach and even the guy they traded Kyrie for.

Yep that’s right after summer swapping Irving for Isaiah, the Cavs sent Thomas along with versatile big-man vet Channing Frye to Lakerland. In return they got the buckets of ‘Sixth Man’ sure thing Jordan Clarkson and another Akron hometown hero in the form of Larry Nance Jr.

And although the Lakers picked-up a certified All-Star with Iverson kill at will, little man syndrome scoring a lot of fans where left tweeting negative emojis and gifs following the deadline deal. And not because their new number seven seal was a former Boston Celtic great only a season ago. Or that the former tooth chipper is now a befallen superstar by way of injury. More that the Lake Show loved the young Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Randle and Zubac core that has lost it’s first big time players of the future since the de-loading trade of D’Angelo Russell last summer.

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Clarkson was a class act and there from the luck of the late round steal start. Whereas when Nance Jr. ran the floor like his pops all the bleachers snapped shut, tilted up. Lakerland finally thought they would see their own slamming son represent them in the Slam Dunk Contest he should surely win now like father, like dunk today. But now he’ll be doing it all for one and one for all.

But with the fast tracked pace of the Lakers new speedy dynamite dynamo it could still be Showtime again for Magic’s men like when Earvin Johnson was kissing another Isiah Thomas hello in the golden era 80’s. But this Isaiah Thomas-so long as he can ball in the same backcourt as Ball once injury time gives way to the Lavar…excuse me the Lonzo Angeles Lakers-could attract even more free agents like the expected homecoming of Paul George from the Thunder to the purple reign this offseason. Even if rumour has a Black Panther/Killmonger like relationship between this point prince and the King of the Ohio land.

But if it’s between LeBron as a Laker or another one of James’ sidekicks than who do you think will hold the headlines for tomorrows Los Angeles Times? Especially as Isaiah could aim higher than coming off the bench this summer as a free agent without restriction himself. His big contract coming off the books with Channing’s (Frye not Hollywood’s Tatum), another big three big in Brook Lopez and another former All-Star in Luol Deng (yep…he’s still here).

All these multiples of millions would surely make for a kings ransom.

This could be it, so lets enjoy I.T. whilst he lasts.

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Nuggets Jamal Murray breaks Steven Adams Ankles with Filthy Handles

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Nuggets Jamal Murray Breaks Steven Adams Ankles Filthy Handles

Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray breaks OKC Thunder center Steven Adams ankles with his filthy and deadly combination of handles and three-point shooting. Murray was sensational finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a thrilling 127-124 victory. The Canadian guard (Kitchener, ON) is having the best year of his NBA career and has arguably become best Canadian basketball player in the NBA. The 6’4″, 207 lbs guard is flourishing under Head  Coach Mike Malone’s system and is averaging a respectable 16 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game through 50 regular season games including a career-high 38-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers.

BTW. I can watch this all day!

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Like Father, Like Glove…Gary Payton II Makes Family Franchise History

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Like Father, Like Glove…Gary Payton II Makes Family Franchise History
The Gloves Are On For The Lakers.

From L.A. to South Bay the storied Lakers franchise has growing family ties rooted in their ever evolving modern history.

There’s the Walton. Son of Bill, former player and now coach Luuuuke. The Slam Dunk king he runs lay-up line plays for Larry Nance Jr. like his 80’s dunk champ dad. And even former player and D-League, South Bay coach Coby Karl, son of the legendary George Karl.

And then there’s the Glove story.

All trash talking, stop you from scoring, Seattle Supersonics NBA legend Gary Payton joined the Lakers with fellow golden era 90’s great post mailman, Karl Malone to try to get one more ring at the end of the Shaq and Kobe era. Payton ended up getting one with Shaq in the talented South Beach pool of Miami before the G retired. But now the gloves son and fellow Beaver, Gary Payton II (there’s a Tim Hardaway Jr. trend for NBA legend fathers to name their sons after themselves) is putting on the gold for the future of this franchises youth revolution.

After starting his unbelievably undrafted career with the young Milwaukee Bucks led by the alphabet Giannis Antetokounmpo, it wasn’t all A-B-C. But now he’s looking to put up numbers with the purple Lake Show off alphabet street like 1-2-3. Now number 23 (three more than his dad…but that isn’t the reason that number should p### the retire No. 20 off) is looking at a fresh start with Luke and Lonzo’s (not to mention Lavar’s) Lakers like no other.

The two-way guard has signed a two-way contract with both the Los Angeles Lakers and their NBDL team the South Bay Lakers (now more official than their former Los Angeles D-Fenders affiliate name, even if not in city). So now G.P. II will play for both Coach Walton and Coach Karl. How’s that for some family ties!?

Young Gary Payton the second had some impressive debuts off the bench for L.A. But now Payton mark II is assigned to South Bay like fellow two-way dunking Alex Caruso (he really does have a detective grade surname and a game that does not go with his frame) he’s ready to ball. Messing around in his debut and getting a triple double of 14, 11 and 12.

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Payton II could be a big part of the Lakers youth movement too like many of his current teammates going from South Bay to L.A. like Hollywood fans and script-writers can only hope LeBron will decide to this free agent offseason like he did South Beach all those last summers ago. Just like another rookie with a familiar surname in Thomas Bryant (no…Kobe isn’t THAT old) and of course Zupac.

Lead by the Ball family, the even better rookie and in no way number two Kyle Kuzma (who even goes one better in the Twitter troll back and forth with Ball brother LiMelo. “Fire your stylist”?! Oh yeah? “Fire your dentist”! Damn…can we smell a Shaq and Kobe beef cooking?!), three times a great rookie selection in the defensive Hart, big Brandon Ingram, of course Nance junior and the original future Julius Randle and his late round draft genius Jordan Clarkson (who’s not only balling like he’s the Sixth Man of the Year but like he should start too) this young Showtime, purp Laker legacy are making their own, unique legend in Mamba moment black.

This season it looked like the chance for an outside eight seed was thinner than the backlight on a retro Casio, but now the future is brighter than the South Bay sun from downtown L.A.

And with the Payton patent making Lakers history by becoming the first father and son duo to suit up for the franchise, it might just take a glove to hold this young core together.

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