The Oklahoma City Thunder received a lot of attention on a TNT conference call Thursday to preview the network's NBA All-Star Game coverage next week. Here are excerpts from comments from TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith:
Barkley on Thunder coach Scott Brooks: “Scott Brooks is the most underrated coach in the NBA right now. They've won every single year and they keep getting better. I think they would have been in the Finals last year if (Russell) Westbrook had not gotten hurt, and missing Westbrook this year they still have the best record in the NBA. He's like (former Lakers head coach) Pat Riley, who never got credit for being a great coach. People say, ‘Well, he has great players.' (Miami Heat coach) Erik Spoelstra gets credit and he has three great players. Oklahoma City is quickly becoming the best organization in the NBA. He is the one consistent force with that group. It bothers me that he doesn't get enough credit.”
Smith on the Thunder's championship chances: “Oklahoma can win a title. This is the year that they possibly can. Miami has done it for three years with no low post scoring. If they play a team like Miami, I think they are more efficient this year at shooting the basketball than they were in the first time they were in the Finals. They were a little more reckless. Now they are a lot more efficient and cohesive. The maturity of (Reggie) Jackson and (Jeremy) Lamb has shown that they're ready.”
Barkley on the Thunder: “I like everything about Oklahoma City except their lack of low post scoring. It's always going to come back to bite them. You can't judge this team because it's going to be such a different dynamic when Westbrook comes back.”
Barkley on a LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant matchup: “The reason they can't beat Miami is LeBron James is the only guy who has a chance at guarding Durant. That's the biggest problem. If you're going to beat Miami, you see (Pacers forward) David West and (Pacers center) Roy Hibbert owned them (and) beat them like a drum down low. The problem with Oklahoma City not having a low-post scorer is you're not going to beat Miami on the perimeter. LeBron James is such a unique player. He's the only person big enough and strong enough to make Durant's life a nightmare.”
Continue reading this story on the...