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Thunder chat: Anthony Slater talks about KD's new nickname, Russell Westbrook's return and Perry Jones' minutes

by Anthony Slater Published: February 17, 2014
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Anthony Slater 11:39 a.m. That'll do it for this chat. Thanks to everyone who asked questions and sorry to those I didn't get to. Talk to you again soon and be sure to check out all our coverage on NewsOK.com.
Anthony Slater 11:38 a.m. How about a Finals prediction?

Thunder over Pacers
Malachi 11:37 a.m. Any bold predictions for the second half of the season and playoffs?
Anthony Slater 11:37 a.m. All of the above. The bench has truly been fantastic this season. Maybe the biggest factor, beyond KD ascending into another dimension. But the question becomes, can Lamb continue his strong play when the stakes get higher, can D Fish continue to hit shots at his recent clip? We'll see come playoff time.
Garrett 11:36 a.m. So far who has impressed you the most on the bench this season. Jeremy Lamb becoming a sort of three point specialist, Derek Fisher coming back like he went to the fountain of youth, or Steven Adams playing the backup role and not in the D-League
Anthony Slater 11:35 a.m. No, there is little to no coaching being done in All-Star games. It's superstars (or Rising Stars) playing no defense, putting on a dunk contest, ad-libbing, firing up threes and generally floating around the court with no structure. It told us nothing about Brooks.
Guest 11:34 a.m. Too bad that both Kalamian and Brooks got beaten for coaching, does that reflect in their actual job as coaches and mentors?
Anthony Slater 11:33 a.m. Yeah, I mean, I think he's got a bright future in this league. If he's willing to stick in Oklahoma City, he would be a great bench/rotation guy. But if his aspirations are a bit bigger (starter, 30-minute a night guy), he may feel it necessary to go pave his path somewhere else. Because that role will likely never come here.
Guest 11:32 a.m. Perry is a good player and a impact player on the thunder,he does the little things on the court and I think he will be the glue guy for the thunder when nick collison retires,u think so?
Anthony Slater 11:32 a.m. And he's done a great job in that role.
Anthony Slater 11:32 a.m. It's tough. He's on such a stacked roster and is essentially the backup for the league's MVP. So it's a numbers game. Not many minutes to go around. And certainly not many isolation, post-up situations. His best asset for this team is as a versatile defender, sticking guards and forwards. And on offense, his spot will continue to be in that corner, as a stretch 4 to space the floor for the superstars.
Guest 11:30 a.m. If Perry Jones is going any further in this team, Brooks needs to have minutes for Perry Jones and not let him stand at the 3 point line, instead let him make post moves, rebound, put backs and block shots, What do you think?
Anthony Slater 11:30 a.m. I actually agree. It's probably the one tweak I'd prefer in his rotation. Adams is the center of the future and seems to always have a positive impact in his minutes now. He averages 14.4, wouldn't mind seeing him get 20.
Guest 11:29 a.m. Brooks really needs to play more minutes for Adams, as his peers already were given the minutes for experience, your thought?
Anthony Slater 11:29 a.m. And late in the year, especially if they clinch early, Brooks will probably use that time to rest some starters, particularly Westbrook for the stretch run.
Anthony Slater 11:28 a.m. I'd put the probability at less than one percent. I'm still amazed the Heat were able to do that last year. It's the NBA, losses (to anyone) will happen over the course of the season.
Guest 11:27 a.m. Do u think the thunder can go on a 27 game winning streak for the remaining of the season to have 70-12,seems kind of hard but not impossible if they are really better than before if Russ comes back
Anthony Slater 11:27 a.m. I don't think Westbrook will adjust his game much, if at all. That's not who he is. And I'm not sure he should. Before his injury, RW was playing the best basketball of his career and the Thunder were rolling, even more than they are right now. Without RW, OKC is 22-8. With him, OKC is 21-4.

Wrote about it a little today: http://newsok.com/what-will-russell-westbrooks-return-mean-for-the-thunder/article/3934511

Guest 11:25 a.m. Given the success of thunder now without Russ,was does Russ need to do differently to maintain the success?
Anthony Slater 11:24 a.m. I think it remains a possibility they make a trade. The deadline is Thursday. But I'd put the chances at less than 50 percent. This is a team that can win the title as currently constructed. I'm not sure you want to mess with that rotation. But if you can add a guy (like, say, Gary Neal) without giving much up, maybe Presti pulls the trigger. We'll see.
Josh 11:23 a.m. Name the player most likely to be traded to OKC before the deadline.
Scott 11:23 a.m. Do you think we make some kind of trade this week?
Anthony Slater 11:22 a.m. Doubt it. They didn't put him on one the first time around, don't think they will this time.
Cole 11:22 a.m. Do you expect Russell to be on a minute restriction when he comes back?
Anthony Slater 11:21 a.m. That's a good question. Would have probably been a tight vote. I would guess Blake, from a pure highlight perspective.
Guest 11:20 a.m. Who deserves to win MVP if west wins,Blake or KD?
Anthony Slater 11:20 a.m. Possibly. But only a little bit. I believe he's third in the league right now in minutes per game, which seems a bit high. And assuming an impending deep playoff run, he's gonna put plenty of miles on those tires. But Scott Brooks always shoos away the issue, saying 'He's 25'. So I don't think it concerns he or KD.
tom 11:19 a.m. Do you think KD's minutes will be reduced in the 2nd of the season to rest him for the playoffs?
Anthony Slater 11:19 a.m. My guess: Upon return, Westbrook is the permanent starter, playing 30-plus minutes a night and attacking the rim like he always has. KD said it best: "That guy is a dog. You can't put a leash on him"
Thunder clap 11:18 a.m. Do the Thunder alternate Reggie and Westbrook as starters for the first few weeks, or let Westbrook just take over right when he comes back?
Anthony Slater 11:18 a.m. I think it's going to be really nice for Reggie Jackson. He's been spotty with his play as a starter and still doesn't seem to entirely fit into that role alongside KD and Ibaka. As he slides back to the second unit and is allowed to be more of a playmaker/shoot first PG, I think he'll thrive a bit more. He was the frontrunner for 6th Man before RW went down.
Marshall 11:16 a.m. Who will benefit most from Westbrook's return?
Anthony Slater 11:15 a.m. LeBron-Durant, Thunder-Heat, Westbrook's (potential) return. The Peake will be popping. It's gonna be fun...Beyond that, I don't know that I have a score prediction. I'd assume OKC will be the slight favorite, as they should be at home, and I assume the Heat will come out angry after what happened to them in South Florida. I'll say Thunder in a tight one, but could see it going either way.
Guest 11:13 a.m. Prediction on the upcoming thunder vs heat game??
Anthony Slater 11:13 a.m. Also agreed.
Guest 11:13 a.m. KD is too cool to be called the servant....
Anthony Slater 11:13 a.m. If you didn't know, that's the nickname KD kind of attempted to give himself this weekend. And we all know that self-imposed nicknames never work. And I'm not sure any of Durant's hundreds of other nicknames will stick over time. "KD" is easy and it's here for the long haul.
Guest 11:11 a.m. Thoughts on the servant??
ErnieV 11:11 a.m. "The Servant" nickname, what's your take? I like KD if it had a double meaning like "the Komplete Dominator"
Anthony Slater 11:11 a.m. KD. Far more polished offensive player, closer to his prime, taller, longer, more impactful on the game. Defensively, I think PG is more of a stopper than KD. That 'I''ll guard your best scorer for 48 minutes' mentality. But Durant has become a much better defender. The difference between KD and PG on defense is small. The difference on offense is big.
Guest 11:09 a.m. Just asking? KD or PG a better 2 way player?
Anthony Slater 11:09 a.m. A little bit. But that's basically what All-Star games are for. Showcase your skills. Chris Paul passes, Blake Griffin dunks, Kevin Durant scores...Maybe the 17 threes, which broke the ASG's previous record of 11, were a bit much. But oh well. He was the best player on the team and he played the most minutes. Don't think it's something he should be criticized for.
Guest 11:07 a.m. Is KD a ball hog in the ASG?
Guest 11:07 a.m. Why does KD always like to shoot so much in an ASG?
Anthony Slater 11:07 a.m. Ehh, in Durant, we're talking about a career 38 percent 3-point shooter who has hit at a 41 percent clip each of the past two seasons. That's a great number from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Westbrook is a career 30 percent 3-point shooter who has never shot higher than 33 percent for a season. So I wouldn't view them in the same hemisphere as far as 3-point shooting goes.
Guest 11:04 a.m. Why does when KD shoots a lot of 3s,he doesn't really make a lot tho,is he trying to be the Russell Westbrook of the 3 point line?
Anthony Slater 11:04 a.m. Also, thanks to everyone for coming on the chat. I'm pumped for the second half.
Anthony Slater 11:04 a.m. That said, I think should these two meet in the Finals and it becomes desperation time, Brooks may be forced to change the starting lineup and give Perk a permanent seat on the bench. You can afford a bad start in a mid-February game. It won't cost you a ring. But you can't in a Finals game. That could be deadly.
NewsOK 11:02 a.m. My guess: Yes. Just to keep some continuity, particularly coming out of the break. I think Brooks will handle it similar to the game in Miami. If the starters are getting pummeled, give Perk a quick seat on the bench and don't bring him back, even to start the second half.
dr. el prez 11:01 a.m. Anthony, will Perk be starting on Thursday night against the Heat? If so, is there logical justification for this?
by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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