Monthly Archives: November 2010

Are the Thunder (and Kevin Durant) in danger of becoming overrated?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the way up, there’s no doubt about that. Fresh from a 50 win season and a trip to the playoffs, where they ran eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers close before succumbing in 6 games, expectations have increased considerably. Kevin Durant has come off a summer as the star of Team USA’s run to a gold medal and Russell Westbrook could be set for a breakout season as an All-Star, but how far can this Thunder team go this season?

Let’s start with Durant. Last year’s scoring champ is a sensational player that can score from anywhere and after Kobe retires, could very well take up the crown of the NBA’s best player. But claims that he will run away with the MVP and is the best small forward in the NBA (ahead of Lebron) are completely exaggerated. For the record, I think Durant will win the MVP award this season but I don’t think he’s better than Lebron at the moment, or even Melo at the moment (at least not offensively, as he lacks the post game of Anthony).

Then there’s the Thunder. Durant is a superstar, Westbrook in my opinion, can be an All-Star this season, and then you have a set of one-dimensional role players in Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Nenad Kristic, with young players like James Harden, Cole Aldrich and Eric Maynor yet to show their full potential. The problem though for OKC is their frontcourt, which has been well documented as a problem area. They just don’t have the size that the Lakers, Blazers or Mavs and lack the experience of a Spurs. Nenad Kristic, Cole Aldrich and Jeff Green, no matter how you put it, don’t match up to the likes of Dirk, Tim Duncan and Gasol and the various other 7-footers in the West.

I do like the Thunder and believe in a few years, when Durant begins to hit his peak, that they could take over the Lakers when Kobe begins to decline. But reports that the Thunder will be the second seed in the West automatically and get to the Western Conference finals are exaggerated, especially as they lack the playoff experience of a team like the Spurs.

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Where do Melo and the Nuggets go from here?

The press coverage surrounding the Denver Nuggets and their superstar forward Carmelo Anthony has been going on for weeks now: the will he/won’t he saga about Melo’s future continues to go on, but despite the constant rumours: are the Nuggets better holding on to or getting rid of their franchise player?

The rumours of a four team trade involving the Nuggets, Nets, Jazz and Bobcats are set to be “dead”, according to sources. While Denver are understandably cautious to offload their best player, they do not want to see him leave for nothing in the summer, just like the situation in Cleveland with Lebron. Melo, on the other hand, has watched the likes of Lebron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh form the super-trio in Miami this offseason and wants to win a championship, and feels that is not a possibility in Denver. While Carmelo has performed a U-turn and said he never demanded a trade and wants to stay with the Nuggets, if he is unwilling to sign that 3 year, $65 million extension, they need to look at trading him, particularly before the trade deadline.

If the Nuggets are looking to trade Anthony this season, they will never be able to get the exact value back, as Carmelo is a top 5 player in the league and there is no chance of getting a Lebron, Kobe, Wade or Durant back. What they can hope for though is a solid building block for the future or a player that is just on the cusp of being an All-Star, that they can pair with the likes of Chauncey Billups, Nene and Kenyon Martin.

Melo has refuted speculation that he is unhappy in Denver and insisted he wants to keep his options open. But the Nuggets will need to do something or risk losing him for nothing. Here are some trades I would look at that haven’t been in the news, as New York and New Jersey have little to offer Denver:

Sixers get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Andre Igoudala, picks +cash (or someone like Thaddeus Young)

The Sixers get a go-to-guy in Anthony who could team with promising youngsters Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner in Philly. The Nuggets get a good replacement in Iggy, who doesn’t have to be the number 1 option in Denver and can sit behind Chauncey Billups. The only thing is would Melo be happy in Philly, or would this be just a one-year rental?

Blazers get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Greg Oden, Nic Batum +picks

The Blazers get another superstar to pair with Brandon Roy and would be an instant title contender with a lineup of Camby, LaMarcus Aldridge, Melo, Roy and Andre Miller. The Nuggets need size and get former number 1 pick Oden, who still has amazing potential and when healthy, is productive, as well as Nic Batum, who also has tons of potential.

Wizards get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas is no longer “the man” in Washington with the arrival of John Wall, who is the future of the franchise. Arenas notoriously had the gun suspension last season and really needs a change of scenery. His contract is huge, but Denver may be able to help him be an All-Star again, which is possible if Gilbert can stay healthy. The Wizards get Melo to pair with Wall, which could be a devastating two-punch combo. But Melo wouldn’t really find himself in a better situation than he already has?