Darnell Mayberry: Eric Maynor's days in OKC 'numbered'

The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry took questions from readers in his OKC Thunder live chat today. Here's a recap of the Q&A.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm •  Published: November 21, 2012
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Passing ... can we expect to see this define the Thunder this year or is it just a small sample of the beginning of the season? Personally I think it makes them very dangerous when they swing the ball and move the D, eventually they get a better shot.

I agree. But it's only been 11 games. We'll see if it holds up. They look like they're making more of a concerted effort to maintain the ball movement. But 31 assists is not going to be a normal occurrence for this club.

How do we feel about Thabeet? I'm not impressed.

I'm more impressed by the game. He's had success in small doses. But that's really all the Thunder is looking for from him.

What level of performance are you expecting from Russell Westbrook tonight?

All I can say is as Thunder fans, the best you all can hope for is Westbrook keeping the personal battle to a minimum and staying within the team concept. If he doesn't, and he tries to make it personal like he did in New Orleans, Paul can show everyone that he's not Greivis Vasquez.

Will you have a Perk/Z-Bo altercation with opposing media?

I don't want to meet anybody by the bus. No thank you.

Can you see the Thunder winning it all this year?

I have yet to see anything remotely close to defense capable of stopping Miami. As for the offense, I'm not sure it is any better equipped to score against the Heat. So as of right now, I'm not optimistic.

Over/under on how many half court shots Maynor makes this season?

Since he's already got one … I'll set it at three.

What matchup are you looking forward to most this season?

Thunder-Clippers is up there. Thunder-Heat obviously is another good one.

Which L.A. team gives the Thunder the most trouble?

Clippers, and I don't think it's close.

Harden's return to the Thunderdome as a Rocket, thoughts?

If he didn't realize what he had before, he sure will on that night.

Is Harden getting a tribute video when he returns?

H-nah!

Which Thunder player is the most frustrating to watch for you?

Westbrook

Will you be listening to KD's mixtape?

Doubt it.

Is K-Mart snotty at times answering questions, or is it just me?

The Thunder has worked him over. When he got here, he was candid and comfortable. Now, everything is team this, team that. We call it "Sam-itizing" players. That's what the team's PR staff does. I'm convinced every one is taught the company line and once here they dare not cross it. The team is still working on Perk. :)

Any pregame rituals fans aren't aware of?

That's a good question since there are so many new faces. I'd have to check and get back to you on that.

Will we see games like last year where Durant and/or Westbrook go for 40+? Or has the offense changed that much from last year?

I don't think it's changed. I think it's inevitable that we see a handful of those. Those cats are just that talented.

Do you think KD will average 30 or more points this year?

I doubt it. He doesn't look interested in scoring a ton.

What would be your second squad line up?

Maynor, Martin, Durant, Collison, Thabeet ... which is what it's been the last two games. I like what I've seen so far out of that group.

If the Thunder don’t make it, how epic would Grizzlies-Clippers, Lakers-Grizzlies, then Heat-Grizzlies be?

I don't really want to see Heat-Grizzlies. If it's not the Thunder, my first choice would be Heat-Lakers.

Did this commercial take a lot of practice or is it video magic?

That's the NBA's new "BIG" commercial, featuring Russell Westbrook. I'm going to say video magic. Oddly enough, it looks like it was set in the Thunder's old practice facility. I'm not saying it was. But it surely looks like that building.

Can Ibaka become an elite scorer down low?

Elite? That's a stretch right now. But I think he can be effective, if not reliable in time.

This offseason, why didn't the Thunder target minimum salary vets to help stabilize its second unit instead of relying on Thabeet, Maynor, and a bunch of unproven rookies/second year players?

This team still wants to build a "sustainable" roster. That means players that can grow together. This season, it might not look the greatest. But imagine Lamb, PJ3, RJ and Thabeet next to Ibaka, Westbrook and Durant three years from now. Pretty scary, huh? Also, vets have to be willing to take the minimum to play here. This might be news to some, but it's much more appealing for most to sign for the minimum in New York, L.A. or Miami than it is to sign up for that in OKC.

See any fights popping off tonight?

I hope not.

You've mentioned before that you feel a move is coming. Where do you think Presti is looking to make an improvement?

I don't necessarily think one is coming. I just think the assets that Presti has at his disposal are too numerous to not explore something. And with the second unit playing so erratically, my guess is that will be the targeted area of improvement.

Do you think it's possible or smart to try to deal Perk and Lamb for Gortat?

I don't think it's possible or smart. Phoenix doesn't want Perk's deal, and the Thunder wouldn't be much better with Gortat, even offensively. Gortat is best in the pick-and-roll. Westbrook is not a very good pick-and-roll point guard. So that wouldn't make sense to get him in my opinion.

Do you own anything similar to what Westbrook owns for his post game shirt selection?

I once had a Hawaiian shirt in college. That's as close as I came to owning anything remotely close to some of the garb Westbrook rolls out.

Do you see the Thunder making a trade right before the deadline? And if so, for who?

The short answer is yes. But I'd have to research it to come up with a list of possible names.

Do you foresee any more big trades for the Thunder by the end of the season?

No. Nothing big.

Do you think Memphis is playing over its head right now?

Not at all. They've added depth and 3-point shooting to complement their core. That is a very good, very dangerous team.

The Thunder is so close to winning a championship. Does it have the right combination of personnel to get it done this year? What does the team lack?

The starting lineup still has its flaws. Bench scoring is now an issue. And while generic, I question whether this team has enough maturity. I'm extremely concerned about Westbrook's decision-making.

Will Perk likely be in the lineup next year?

As of now, my guess is yes.

Do you see the Thunder utilizing the picks it received from the Rockets as trade-bait? Or do you think they will actually use them?

I can't see them trading the Toronto pick. But the Mavs pick probably will be packaged.

Is there a reason it seems this team isn't as fun to watch? Was The Beard our fun factor?

I'm going to say they've played so poorly for the most part that it's taken some of the fun out of it.

Any possible way the Thunder could get Varejao from Cleveland? I love that dude’s game. High energy, high IQ, and just seems to be around the ball a lot.

I think that ship has sailed.

Coming off a big contract, it seems Martin is in the stage of his career where he'd be the kind of guy to sacrifice pay for championships. Do you think Martin would stay for a 3-year, 18 million deal, and do you think the Thunder would offer that?

That would be an extremely reasonable deal for the Thunder, but perhaps more of a pay cut than Martin might be willing to accept. Keep in mind, he's already sacrificing this year by coming off the bench.

Have you eaten at KD's restaurant?

Not open yet.

Do you think fans lose track of how impressive it is for a team to be this young and this good?

All the time.

Will we see more triple-doubles from KD this year? If so, how many are you thinking?

Two more.

Every time I see Liggins in the game, he makes something happen.

Welcome to the club, my friend.

Is it possible that Martin is a better fit than Harden?

In some ways he is. In some ways he isn't.

Can you talk on how underrated Thabo is? LOVE his game, but goes so unnotice.

I think the vast majority of observers know full well how valuable Thabo is, especially against elite wing players. It's the nights where the opponent doesn't have an elite wing player that I think fans want Brooks to sit him down. Can't necessarily make an argument against that desire.

As a very young team, the Thunder is filled with nothing but potential. Which of its young stars do you think has the most untapped potential and which do you think will actually show the most improvement by the end of the season?

Westbrook most untapped. If he ever learns how to slow down and consistently make the right play instead of solely relying on scoring, he would be the best point guard in the league and maybe the third best player overall.

Why does Hollinger hate on the Thunder so much? It would be hilarious if he would ridicule Perk in person since he is such a Perk critic.

I think he's just providing info.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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