So I decided to watch a bit of preseason ball on ESPN last night — as if I haven’t had enough exhibition games for one beat reporter. And just as I turned to the broadcast I caught Jamal Mashburn saying during the pre-game show that the Thunder will make the playoffs as the eighth seed. And ya’ll thought my 35-win endorsement of this team was high last year. : ) Avery Johnson gave the eighth seed to the Clippers and essentially laughed at Mashburn’s prediction.
But two days earlier a few of their colleagues, Jalen Rose and Jon Barry, also weighed in on OKC during a national teleconference. Here’s what they had to say.
“I really like the young core group of this team. Kevin Durant is going to be one of the league leaders in scoring. I think he’s a tremendous talent. Russell Westbrook as a combination guard can break defenses down and get shots for himself as well as others. He’s going to continue to get better. The rookie Harden is a slasher. He’s going to be able to score and is real nifty and crafty. And Jeff Green, here’s a guy that can rebound, do the intangibles, get blocks, get steals, he’s real strong, he finishes around the basket. That group of young players continuing to grow together is really going to create a lot of excitement for their fans. Not yet a playoff caliber team, but definitely a team that will show promise and on a nightly basis will be the kind of the team that can put up big numbers and make a lot of contending teams look bad. ”
“Another very young team. The average age is 25, or something like that. I like Harden the rookie. Another year at the point guard position for Westbrook will help. He still needs to learn the position. I think he’s still a bit out of control. Not used to the position. A terrific athlete. He’s going to be a terrific player. Durant is a stud, big-time all-star. I love Collison. He’s a dirty work guy. But they are a couple of years away. As long as they continue to grow, I love the young pieces. I don’t think there are a lot of moves that have to be made. If this team stays together, in a couple of years they are certainly a quality playoff team in the West.”
GET YOUR THUNDER GIRLS CALENDAR
The Thunder Girls are having a calendar release party tonight at 7 at Mickey Mantles in Bricktown. Thunder fans can get and advanced copy of the Thunder Girls calendar before they go on sale for the first time at Wednesday’s season opener. Calendars cost $15, and tonight will be the only time all the Thunder Girls will be in attendance to sign copies of the calendars.