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Same messages from different voices might have benefitted Thunder Olympians

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are all bringing home medals — and maybe a few lessons, too.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 12, 2012
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Durant scored 156 points in the tournament, a U.S. Olympic record. Bring that mentality back to Oklahoma City, and not one person in Thunder blue will mind.

Westbrook: In London, Westbrook was a defensive stopper, an energy guy. He was called on for some offense, but not much. He was a rich-man's Thabo Sefolosha.

Which is simply fantastic. No way does the Thunder want Westbrook to tone down his offense, but if he could channel more of Thabo's game, we're looking at an even brighter star.

Westbrook's defense is occasionally dominant. Make it often dominant, and he becomes one of the five best players in the NBA.

Harden: The Thunder relies on Harden to score. The Olympians did not, and Harden was reduced to a nominal role.

Which should fuel him. Harden has made remarkable hops in his first two NBA off-seasons, but he still can get better. A lot better.

Harden too often has disappeared in big games, notably the NBA Finals against Miami.

After spending all this time with so many regal talents, perhaps Harden has detected those certain somethings that lift good players to great.

Ibaka: Ibaka didn't have a great Olympics, although he had a great gold medal game, with seven points in the third quarter alone and a great block on Deron Williams' dunk attempt.

But if Ibaka learns a little from Pau Gasol, he will be quite the offensive force. Ibaka doesn't have much of an inside game and has said he wants to work on his turnaround jumper with Hakeem Olajuwon. The Thunder would sign up for that.

But how about Gasol's baseline moves? Gasol is a great NBA player and an even better international player. If Ibaka learns a little from Gasol, the Thunder will be mighty grateful.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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