TNT analyst Reggie Miller raves about development of young Thunder players Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams

Miller says Thunder is best team in the Western Conference
by Mel Bracht Published: January 8, 2014

TNT analyst Reggie Miller will broadcast the Thunder-Nuggets game at 9:30 p.m. Thursday with Kevin Harlan and reporter Craig Sager as the second game of TNT's doubleheader. New York hosts Miami in the first game at 7 p.m. (Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and reporter Rachel Nichols). The Thunder-Nuggets game also will air on FSOK (Brian Davis, Grant Long and reporter Lesley McCaslin). Miller, a former UCLA and Indiana Pacers star guard, discussed the Thunder and NBA in a phone interview.

What has surprised you about the Thunder?

“The play of Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams really intrigues me because for so many years the success was the big three, originally with Westbrook, Harden and Durant. Then with Harden going to Houston, everyone was wondering who is going to be that third person. Ibaka has shown that at times, but hasn't been consistent. But between Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb, those two guys are forming up to be pretty good. With more time with Westbrook on the mend for another two to three weeks, this time really helps Reggie and Jeremy. I really like how Jeremy is playing right now. He seems to be comfortable with his game. He's making that outside shot, which was a question mark. And he's showing a level of maturity and toughness that I haven't seen at all last year.

“They are deep, they're young. At the end of the day, it comes down to the health of Westbrook and Durant. And Durant has been fantastic. To me, they're the team to beat in the West because it's all about matchups. When Westbrook got hurt last year, obviously (it) opened the avenue for them to be beat. San Antonio can't match up with OKC. But in my opinion, OKC has a problem with teams like the Clippers and Golden State whereas San Antonio beats up Golden State and the Clippers.”

Three knee surgeries in one year, is that something the team has to be concerned about?

“Oh, I'm sure. But again this is a guy who hasn't missed a game dating all the way back to high school. So a lot of it could be wear and tear over the years, overusage, and this could be a blessing in disguise. He was never going to beat A.C. Green's (consecutive game) record. Why push yourself to that? What's more important? Is it being healthy going into playoffs for that stretch run? It's a blessing because of the development of Jackson and Lamb. Look, Sam Presti did it again with Steven Adams. I love that kid. He's tough. He knows his role. He rebounds. He gets hit in the face and looks at you crazy. He has great hands. But again it's the scouting department, and Sam Presti. They don't have the luxury of getting big free agents because the owner will open up the pocketbook because they don't care about the luxury tax. ... I love everything about OKC because they remind me a lot of my 18 years in Indiana. They play in a small market. They are really the only show in town. Although we had the Colts, they didn't really come on until I retired. When you're the only show in town, they live and die through your every game. That's what makes it so special.”

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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