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OKC Thunder notebook: Former NBA coach George Karl high on the Thunder

by Anthony Slater Published: December 18, 2013

For the Thunder's entire Oklahoma City existence, up until this season, George Karl has coached a rival team.

But this year, Karl is in the analyst chair, working as part of ESPN's NBA team. And because of that, he can give a more candid opinion on teams across the league.

So far, he's high on the Thunder.

“Quietly, they are under the radar,” Karl said during a recent ESPN segment. “I don't know what it was, maybe (Russell) Westbrook's injury. Early in the season, everybody kind of wrote them off a little bit.”

“They are on a mission, they're focused,” Karl continued. “Two years ago, they got to the Finals, maybe not mature enough to win the Finals. Now they know they want to get back.”

Karl identified the development of Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson as two of the key reasons for the improvement.

“Ibaka might be an All-Star this year,” Karl said. “How they fill the hole that Harden (left), I think it's going to be Ibaka and Reggie Jackson and both of them are having very good seasons. And their bench is finding a different personality along the way.”

“This is a team that has a mission, has a confidence and has a direction and focus that is underrated or at least (overlooked) by the NBA people today.”

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