In our never-ending search to learn as much as we can about our opponents, we here at 3 Shades of Blue like to seek out as many sources as we can to glean wisdom and analysis. With the Oklahoma City Thunder in town tonight, we turned to fellow TrueHoop blog Daily Thunder to get some answers to a few burning questions. Lead writer, Royce Young, was kind enough to respond.
1. Most of the experts and pundits have picked OKC to win the West and play Miami in the Finals. What are your expectations for the Thunder this year?
In terms of expectations, I just look for the Thunder to be a more disciplined team that’s clearly grown from last season. I think they can win the West, but there are so many variables in the postseason like matchups, teams being hot and whatnot. I don’t feel like it’s fair to this Thunder team to expect a Finals berth, but I certainly do think they’re capable of it.
2. Much has been made about the alleged rift between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Do you think there is a legitimate issue between them and how will it affect the season?
There isn’t one. Doesn’t exist. Nothing going on. Kevin Durant has repeatedly said he and Westbrook get along fine and I take him at his word. On top of that, watching them interact at practice and in the locker room would never suggest something is going on. The only way this thing affects the season is because the media has loved making an issue out of it and it’ll be something both Westbrook and KD will have to deal with all season, especially in the playoffs.
3. Speaking of Westbrook, he put a killer crossover on T’Wolves’ PG Luke Ridnour on Monday night. On a scale of 1-10, what would you give him for that play?
I would say 10 on first look. But there’s a chance that Ridnour tripped over Anthony Tolliver’s foot and that’s what sent him spilling. If that’s the case, it’s more like a six.
4. I picked Kevin Durant to win the MVP this year. Who do you have winning the MVP and why?
I actually picked Blake Griffin. KD is a quality pick, especially if OKC finishes atop the West standings. But I like Griffin because on top of his numbers likely being absurd, I think he’ll garner more of the credit for Clipper success than Chris Paul. If the Clips finish in the top three or four in the West and Griffin averaged 25-12 or something, I think it’s Griffin’s award to lose.
5. What team in the West poses the biggest problem for the Thunder in the playoffs? Which team has the best chance of preventing them from reaching the Finals in your opinion?
The Grizzlies and Clippers. Both teams will give Oklahoma City difficult matchup issues. The Grizzlies because of their size inside and the Clippers because they’re athletic and can match the Thunder’s speed and talent. Either one in the playoffs would probably be a tough seven-game series and when that happens, you never know.