The Oklahoma City Thunder: A Young Team on the Rise

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Oklahoma City Thunder logo

Image via Wikipedia

A few years back hurricane Katrina barreled through New Orleans leaving buildings crushed and families without homes. The NBA franchise, the New Orleans Hornets, were left without a home court as well, when the stadium suffered major damage and was used as a makeshift shelter for residents after the storm hit. The Hornets moved to Oklahoma for two seasons and were embraced by the locals and had success, but the move was only temporary.

A new beginning:

After the Hornets returned to New Orleans the Oklahoma sports scene took a hit. In 2008, Oklahoma was awarded a franchise of their own when the Seattle Super Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. The team changed its name to the Oklahoma City Thunder and drafted some great young talent that is preparing to take the entire league by storm.

There are four young players that make up the core of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The hope is that this talented group will lead the franchise to a number of rings in the near future as they grow and gain experience on and off the court.

The leaders of the pack:

Kevin Durant is the face of the franchise and one of the best scorers in the NBA. He’s one of those players you watch and expect to see at least three or four plays a game that will completely amaze you. He is a smooth player who glides across the court, has a pure jump shot, and can handle the ball like a shooting guard. The fact that he is 6’10” with long arms isn’t even fair for anybody who has the unenviable assignment of trying to guard him.

If Kevin Durant is Batman then Russell Westbrook would be Robin. The athletic point guard is feared by opponents for his ability to get to the basket and finish over bigger opponents with rim shaking dunks. He is the second option for the Thunder and is given the green light by head coach Scott Brooks to make plays for the team. James Harden and Serge Ibaka are two other young players who continue to improve every year and will see their roles with the team continue to expand.

The Thunder went from not making the playoffs to winning their division title. Last season they were bounced from the playoffs by the eventual champions. The next step for them is to win the NBA championship.

Goals put on hold:

If you follow the NBA you surely know that the league is currently facing a lockout that keeps players from working out at their teams facilities or playing in games. It’s a depressing time for fans of the NBA and people who work at the arenas and own businesses in the surrounding areas. It is a difficult and anxious time for many as the players and franchise owners continue to meet and try to work out a new deal that both sides agree on.

During this lockout period the players have adopted the mantra, “basketball never stops,” and have set up a number of All-Star charity games across the country. A new tournament is being put together now that will have players on a world tour playing exhibition games in Australia, Macau, and London among other stops. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden have all been playing in these games and improving their skills. When the NBA season resumes the Thunder look like they will be ready to take the next step.

  • Finding Things To Do In Oklahoma City (mailamovie.info)
  • Oklahoma’s Annual Fair Features a Rodeo and Horse Show (mailamovie.info)
  • Author:
  • Published: Oct 24th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Around the NFL for 10/24/09

Around the NFL for 10/24/09

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

nfl

There are some critical games this weekend that will define the leaders at the half way post of the season.

Vikes @ Steelers

The Steelers are behind the Bengals by virtue of their loss to Cincy a couple of weeks ago. They need to keep winning not only to insure they win the AFC North but because they don’t want to go to either Indy or New England in the playoffs. This will be a real test for them. They have not been dominate on the ground for a couple of years and it won’t do much against one of the best D lines in the league. The Steelers will rely on the arm of Roethlisberger. On D they will have to balance their efforts to both control the running of Peterson and the passing of Favre.

The Vikes will be at a disadvantage against the pass as all pro DB Winfield is out for the game. Look for them to rely more on the run with AP and keep the Steeler O off the field. The O line of the Vikes has not produced up to their billing blocking for the run. AP is averaging only 5.1 which is below his lofty standards. The line will have to get to the linebackers if AP is going to be successful.

The Vikes passing game has not produced the yards per game that Favre is used to but he has no complaints. The best WR is Rice who averages over 17 yards per catch. Harvin is expected to play and he is outstanding as well. The Vikes should win this game on the road and keep their record perfect.

Falcons @ Cowboys

The Falcons come off an exciting win over the Bears and will face the division leading Saints next week. That is a classic sandwich game. The Birds will have to be focused on this game because the Boys are dangerous particularly at home. The Bird O is only average because the running game has not been up to what it produced last year. RB Turner was outstanding last year but is only averaging 3.5 per carry this season. Part of that is due to a chest injury that has limited his practice. Another aspect is that teams are game planning to stop him after his first big year as a starter. The result is that they are getting less than 100 yards per game on the ground. That puts a lot more pressure on the passing game of QB Ryan.

The Falcons D has played well at times but tends to struggle against really good teams that can run the ball. To make matters worse, they have lost both starting S. The front 7 will have to keep the Boys ground game under control and put pressure on the QB.

The Boys have been as inconsistent as any team in the league. QB Romo is struggling but the team passes almost twice as often as they run despite both backs averaging more than 5 yards per attempt. Romo will have to stop throwing picks and get more accurate in the 4th quarter. He has not come through in close games and that is preventing him from getting into the top 10 of NFL QBs.

The D has been playing OK but not great. The team is 3-2 and needs to keep winning to stay competitive in the NFC East. The Falcons will win when Romo throws another pick late in the game.

Bears @ Bengals

Both teams come in needing a win. The Bears are in 3rd behind both the Pack and the Vikes at 3-2 2.5 games behind the latter. They suffered a tough loss last week at Atlanta. While the passing game has been fine with QB Cutler, the running game has struggled. RB Forte is averaging a poor 3.4 per carry. That has resulted in the Bears averaging less than 90 yards per game rushing. They have to do better.

The Bear D has had a lot of injuries losing MLB Urlacker to the IR and star DT Harris is doubtful for the game. Because of the injuries the Bears will struggle to stop the running game of the Bengals averaging 113 yards per game.

The Bengals were playing very well but looked more like the Bungles in a loss last week to the Texans. That cost them sole possession of 1st place in the AFC North. The Steelers are just a half game behind in the tie breaker because they lost to Cincy. The O is going to have to give Palmer better protection than they did last week. RB Benson has been a jewel. He has given the team the first real rushing threat in several years.

This game will tell us which Bengals team is likely to play the rest of the season. Is it the team that beat the Steelers and Ravens or the one that blew the game to the Texans? I think it is the former and the Bengals win at home.

Saints @ Dolphins

The Dolphin D won’t be able to handle the O of New Orleans and the Saints win.

Cards @ Giants

I love QB Warner. He is one of the best in the league. But the Arizona D is so inconsistent that I can’t bet on the Cards getting the win on the east coast. The Giants win in a shoot out.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,NFL,NFL Draft,Vikings,Steelers,Patroits,Roethlisberger,Favre,Falcons,Cowboys,Romo,Ryan,Bears,Bengals,Ulacker,Harris,Benson,Saints,Dolphins,Cardinals,Giants,Warner

Around the NFL for 10/17/09

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

nfl

There aren’t many decent games this weekend. Most of the games are either the very good against the very bad or 2 bad teams playing each other. Here are a couple I like.

Game of the week NY Giants 5-0 @ New Orleans 4-0

Two undefeated teams meet to decide the early inside track to the top seed in the playoffs. The Giants come in off the closest thing the NFL has to a game week bye beating Oakland easily. The two issues that the Giants have to find an answer to are RB Jacobs who is under performing and the injury to their QB. QB Manning has a foot problem that is not going to get better during the year. It is a problem because there is no quality backup.

The D has played as well as it ever has and is holding the opponent to a 24% 3rd down conversion rate. That is outstanding. They have 14 sacks and is holding the passing game to 4.9 yards per passing attempt.

The Saints have played much better on D than anyone expected them to. They have stuffed the run holding opponents to 3.7 per carry. There is no question about the power of the O through the air. QB Breez is a top player and has a passer rating of 108.4. But the running game is struggling. RB Bell ran very well but has been hurt and should return this week. The Saints have had a week off and that should help but the Giants are the 2nd best team in the conference and will win on the road.

Baltimore 3-2 @ Minnesota 5-0

This game could end up 6-3 without the benefit of a 50 MPH wind like Buffalo/Cleveland faces last week. The Ravens have the most improved player in the league this year in QB Flacco (90.2). He was a care-taker last year but is making plays to win games this season. He will be without his LT Gaither (neck) but still should make some plays. The question is will he make enough? The running game has passed from McGahee to Rice and the latter is averaging 5.8 per carry. They will have to run the ball this week because the Vikes D puts a lot of pressure on the QB in passing situations.

The Vikes have had running problems this season. RB Peterson is fine averaging 4.9 per carry but his partner Taylor is not. He is getting only 2.5 per attempt. Peterson is not a 30 carry a game guy. The Vikes are going to have to find someone to reduce the burden on AP. Favre is doing what he needs to in order win. The D is outstanding but has not yet played up to their level last year. They are giving up too many yards on the ground and have trouble getting off the field despite an easy schedule so far.

The Ravens are mad and will come in and take Minnesota out of the undefeated category.

Chicago @ Atlanta

Two 3-1 teams face off in a critical game for both because they are chasing undefeated teams leading their respective divisions. This game could determine which team gets a wild card spot in the NFC. Both teams have struggled with the running game averaging only 3.8 per attempt. But this game highlights two of the best young QBs in the game—the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (102.9 passer rating) and the Bears’ Jay Cutler (89.3). There will be a lot of balls in the air.

Both teams depend on a well above average D. The Bears have allowed 78 points and the Falcons have given up just 68. The Bears are +3 and I will take the points and Chicago.

Denver 5-0 @ SD 2-2

The Chargers have their backs to the wall in the division. No question that DV has been very lucky to be undefeated. SD is 2.5 games behind and needs a win to get back into the race for the division. DV has 2.5 signature wins including the .5 win over NE because they won the toss in overtime. QB Orton has proven to be a good fit for the short and medium throws he is asked to make. He has assembled a passer rating of 97.4. RB Moreno is averaging 4.2 but struggles to get the key short yard 3rd down coversions. The Bronco D has played well but racked up better numbers against Cleveland and Detroit. The one thing that the D has been able to do is put pressure on the QB. The team has 16 sacks with DE/LB Dumervil having half of those.

The Chargers are struggling running the ball averaging only 2.7 yards per attempt. RB Tomlinson has been a non factor most of the season so far. The team placed the Franchise tag on RB Sproles to keep him in SD. But he is only getting 2.4 yards per carry. The lack of a running game has put a lot more pressure on the passing game and QB Rivers. He has a passing rating of 90.6 which is hard given the lack of quality protection from the O line and the opponent knowing you have to pass on almost every down.

Denver will run out of luck soon but not this week. The Broncos put the SD hopes for the division title on life support.

Stinker of the week:

There are several nominees for this “honor” but one stinks beyond all others. The NFL should pay people to watch the Rams @ the Jags. The winner? The UFL.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Football,Saints,Giants,Jacobs,Manning,Breez,Bell,Ravens,Vikings,Flacco,Favre,McGahee,Gaither,Rice,Bears,Falcons,Cutler,Ryan,Broncos,Chargers,Orton,Rivers,Dumervil,Tomlinson,Sproles,Rams,Jaguars

What does the Williams' case mean for the NFL's drug policy and the future of the league?

Tags: , , , , , ,

nfl

Six events have put the entire drug policy of NFL and every other sports league’s policy in serious jeopardy.

Event 1—The state courts of Minnesota prohibiting Comm. Goodell from suspending Pat and Kevin Williams (DT, Vikings) for having tested positive for banned substances. When the league first announced the suspensions of several players including both all pro DTs of the Vikes, the Williams took the issue to the Minnesota state courts. The state courts found for the Williams.

Event 2—The NFL took the issue to the Federal court system. The League claimed that since it is a national organization, only the Federal system could decide the issue. A lower federal court used the state decision in part to decide in favor of the players. The league appealed and the Minnesota federal court of Appeals heard the case.

Event 3—The NFLPA joined the fray. When the case was moved to the federal courts, the Union filed suit on behalf of both the Vikings players and three Saints players that were also suspended by the league. The NBA, MLB and the NHL filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the NFL’s position.

Event 4—Last week, that court announced the verdict—no suspensions now or in the future for the failed tests. The decision to cancel the suspensions only affects the Williams because they were the ones that brought the initial suit. The suit by the NFLPA was dismissed. However, there was something more in their decision. The Federal Court sent part of the case back to the Minnesota state court for determination.

Event 5—NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said on ESPN Radio that one of the issues he was interested in negotiating in the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was a way to take the power of suspensions including those for failed drug tests out of the hands of the NFL Commissioner. He said that there should be an independent arbiter or panel that would decide on who would be suspended for how long.

Event 6—New Orleans plays Minnesota in week 2. This is important because 2 of the Saint’s D linemen were also suspended for failing the same test. Both DE Will Smith and Charles Grant had been suspended along with Deuce McAllister who has since been cut. However, the Commissioner reinstated both Smith and Grant earlier this week sighting the need for competitive balance as the reason.

So what does all this mean?

The League’s control of the drug policy is subject to both state and federal courts. The fact that the Federal court saw the state court as having jurisdiction is particularly troubling for the League. There are several suits against the league. The chances for success in these cases will depend upon the league being able to maintain its status as one from many. The right of the league for example to grant a license to EA Sports for the sole use of the names and likenesses of players for its video game depend on the courts seeing the league as one unit.

The NFLPA’s nosing into the issue is also a sign of trouble for a new CBA. The league is not going to give up the right to suspend players willingly. This could be the single issue that prevents an agreement in time to avoid a work stoppage.

The only good news for the NFL in the court’s decision was that the NFLPA’s suit was rejected. But it was rejected only because the union had agreed to the terms that the NFL had the power to suspend.

Look for the league to lose more suits due to the court’s decision. This decision sets a bad precedent because it breaks what had been a continuous run of the courts seeing the league as one unit. It also reestablishes the right of the courts over the CBA and league rules.

I see the reinstatement of the Saints as the league accepting this new reality. I cannot see a resolution to the CBA before the start of the 2010 season. That means 10 will be an uncapped year. The likelihood of the NFLPA agreeing to a new cap after an uncapped year is remote at best. The probability is also that the union will win some type of guarantee for contracts. It’s too early to tell exactly which deals or how much of contracts will become guaranteed. But these two changes will destroy the competitive balance of the league as we have known it. And those of us that love the game will remember the old CBA fondly.

This will be a major sticking point over which a strike/work stoppage could well result.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: nfl,nflpa,collective bargaining agreement,CBA,Goodell,Smith,Williams,Federal Court,ESPN Radio,steroids,drug policy,Grant,law suit

© 2011 FryingPanSports. All Rights Reserved.

This blog is powered by the Wordpress platform and beach rentals.