Tag:Oklahoma City Thunder
Posted on: January 28, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 1:06 pm
 

Durant asks reporter questions about Westbrook

Durant wants everyone to know he's cool with his buddy Russell Westbrook. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

Typically, it's the reporter asking the player the questions. That script got flipped Saturday night before the Thunder took on the Warriors at Oracle Arena.

Kevin Durant decided to go on the offensive about the whole supposed Russell Westbrook rift. Matt Steinmetz CSN Bay Area tells an interesting story about an encounter he had with Durant:

I had just finished doing a television segment from the floor of Oracle Arena a little after 5 p.m., while some Thunder players shot in the background. I was a guest on Chronicle Live, and was talking about Durant, Russell Westbrook and the game itself. After I was done with the hit, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Durant, whom I’d never met.

“Hey my man, I’ve got a question for you,” Durant said. “Why does everyone want to talk about who the best player is on our team, whether it’s me or Russell? Why does everyone worry about that?”

Naturally, I was defensive and told Durant that’s not what I was talking about on television.

“I know,” he said. “But you’re in the media so maybe you know why some writers and guys like that do it. I just don’t get it.”

“I’m not sure,” I answered.

“I mean, we’re on the same team, Russell and me, so what does it matter?” Durant said. “Who cares whether he’s better than me or I’m better than him?”

Here's who cares: Media and fans hungry for a fun conflict story. That type of stuff is what's fun to talk about, fun to argue about and fun to read about. It sells. It's a classic teammate vs. teammate story and it's something that's easy to run with.

The question is, what made Durant want to bring this up on his own? Why did he feel the need to talk about it at all? Potentially it had something to do with ESPN's Ric Bucher declaring Westbrook better than Durant in a rankings a couple weeks ago. Who knows.

Some kind of see the over-defensive behavior from Durant and Westbrook as a sign they're trying to hide something. But what I see, as a person that's pretty close to the team, is a group of guys frustrated with the negative attention.

It doesn't surprise me at all Durant did that, because he's completely annoyed. Nobody wants quiet synergy and togetherness more than Durant. He wants everyone happy, everyone getting along and the more the noise builds, the more chance it has to shake the walls.

There's no getting around it: Russell Westbrook is an emotional player. He's easily upset, easily excited. He's a ridiculously competitive person and Durant knows all this better than anyone. So I think Durant doing this type of thing is more to try and defend and cover for Westbrook. He wants to deflect everything.

The answer is that it doesn't matter who is better, as long as the team wins. That's the right answer. But that's not really reality. With Durant the team's alpha, Westbrook is supposed to take a back seat to Durant. He's supposed to defer. Durant is attempting to make Westbrook his equal, which is something Westbrook certainly would appreciate. They know this story won't die despite the fact both have signed extensions to play together for five more years.

Whether they like each other or not, the Thunder have a terrific duo and one that says and does all the right things. So from that perspective, Durant has a decent reason to be frustrated. He knows the real story, what's actually going on. Kevin Durant is a very real individual. What you see is what you get. There's no show. So it's not shocking that he'd let down his guard and speak directly to a reporter like that. He's being the Thunder's leader, their spokesman and most importantly, himself.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 9:35 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 11:43 pm
 

NBA Extension Buzz 1.25.12



By EOB Staff

The deadline for rookies from the 2008 draft class to receive extensions is Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.. We'll help keep track of those getting the big payday, and those left out in the cold for restricted free agency, below. 

Wednesday 10:40 p.m.
  • Yahoo Sports reports that New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon will not receive a contract extension, instead heading on the path towards restricted free agency next summer. The Hornets reportedly made a 4-year offer to Gordon but the sides could not reach an agreement.
Wednesday 7:03 p.m.
Wednesday 7:03 p.m.

Wednesday 6:34 p.m.
Wednesday 3:50 p.m. 
Wednesday 12:50 p.m. 
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the Nuggets have signed Danilo Gallinari to a four-year, $42 million extension. That's great value for a player of Gallo's upside and ability. He's expanded his ball-handling abilities and is operating in a hybrid point-forward role at times in the pick and roll, attacking the rim and working the offense. Great value for a player that looks to be part of the Nuggets' contending core going forward. 
  • Fox26 TV in Houston reports that the Rockets will not be extending Hasheem Thabeet, Terrence Williams or Jonny Flynn, and Jordan Hill is still up in the air. No shockers here as none of those players have proven themselves to be legit NBA rotation players on a consistent basis. 
Wednesday 9:30 a.m.: 
  • The saga of Eric Gordon and the NBA-owned Hornets continues. Yahoo Sports reports that the league has finally given the Hornets permission to offer Gordon a four-year extension. This is clearly short of the five-year "designated player" extension. The Hornets want to hedge their bets a bet with whoever they land in the draft this season as well as Gordon's injury issues. Still, the league not granting permission until the day-of is really an absurd approach and again hinders the Hornets' ability to maximize efforts to lock up their solitary star player. 
  • Fox Sports Arizona reports that the Suns say they reached out to Robin Lopez' representatives, but that Lopez' agent preferred to see what Lopez could pull in in restricted free agency rather than take what is likely to be a lesser extension offer. No shocker. Lopez shows flashes but has yet to put together any sort of consistent ability and the safer approach is to wait and see if Lopez can boost his value in the next five months headed into free agency
  • A report surfaced Tuesday night that Kevin Love and the Wolves had agreed to a four-year, $60 million extension, but Love later tweeted that conversations were ongoing and reports indicate that the deal is not done. It's clear the Wolves will get this done today, the question will be for how much, and how much they're going to frustrate and anger their star player through this process. There's absolutely no reason the Wolves have not just offered love the max, five-year, designated-player offer. 
Earlier:
  • Roy Hibbert is unlikely to receive an extension, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. It's more than a little shocking, especially considering Hibbert is coming off one of his most dominant performances of his career against the Lakers, backing down and scoring over Andrew Bynum, even. The Pacers tried to make a bid for Nene in free agency, but without him, if they were to lose Hibbert, their center position would be a massive question mark. Hibbert has been uneven through four seasons, but there's every reason to believe he'll continue to develop ino a top-ten center in the league. A player with his abilities on both sides of the ball should not be overlooked. 
Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:00 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 6

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

memphis-grizzlies

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the sixth weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Memphis Grizzlies at No. 6. I was as impressed as anyone by the Grizzlies comeback over the Warriors. But not by Memphis. I was impressed at the complete unraveling the Warriors pulled off. Playing that terrible and blowing a 20-point fourth quarter lead isn't easy to do. The Grizzlies have endured injury and have stayed afloat in the West winning seven straight, but without Zach Randolph, that team is not six material. Their toughness is nice and it's a good story that they're fighting, but six of those seven wins are against sub .500 teams and the Bulls without Derrick Rose. So let's pump those brakes. -- RY

2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 10. Look up the term "recency bias" in an encyclopedia and you will find this headshot of Matt Moore accompanying the explanation. Yes, the Magic were historically awful on Monday night but if we've learned one lesson over the last month, it's that there will be the occasional super-ugly shooting night where great teams look terrible. This team has posted exceptional offensive efficiency numbers through the first month of the season; their body of work on that end is beyond reproach. They clocked the Lakers, dumped the Knicks and handled the Bobcats last week too. There's no way there are nine teams in the NBA better than the Magic. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Toronto Raptors at No. 27. OK, so they're 27th in the rankings. But that's too high. See, that's the challenge of power rankings. There has to be a hierarchy, when in reality, it might just be better to have five teams tied at 29. Because right now, the Wizards are the clear worst team with about five others stacked up right together for the honor of second worst. The Raptors have lost eight straight and look rather hopeless. To give them the credit of saying they are any better than 29, or even 28, is giving them far too much reward. -- RY

4. Most Overlooked: Los Angeles Clippers at No. 11. The No. 3 seed in the league's premier conference ranks No. 11 out of 30 teams here. That definitely makes sense. Come on, the Clippers are still benefitting from having a home-loaded schedule and a slow ramp up to the season but they were above .500 last week and within a buzzerbeater of going 4-1. They have premier wins over the likes of Los Angeles and Miami and have weathered an extended Chris Paul injury better than anyone could have reasonably expected. They could slip as the 10 home games vs. four road games disparity tightens up, but give them some credit now. -- BG

5. Sure Thing: Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2. Catastrophic injury or apathy seems to be the only ways OKC will drop from the top-3 spots in the Power Rankings all season. They've won at home and on the road, they've beaten good teams and bad, and they've dominated in conference play. Russell Westbrook's contract status is settled. All that's left to do is nitpick the play of the lower rotation players until the playoffs finally arrive. A postseason rematch versus Denver at some point sounds like a mighty appetizing idea, doesn't it? -- BG 

6. Wild Card: Houston Rockets at No. 14. I hate it when people do this, but if the playoffs started today (why would they, it's January?) the Rockets would be the eight-seed. That's right, the Rockets, who everyone thought was terrible and underachieving to start the year. Now that they've moved past a killer start to their schedule, they've won games they should and are two games up on .500. It's hard to know if they're good or if this is just a product of beating teams you should, but the Rockets likely will figure into the Western playoff race down the stretch in some regard. -- RY
Posted on: January 19, 2012 1:10 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 3:50 pm
 

Russell Westbrook gets $80 million extension

Posted by Ben Golliver russell-westbrook-smile

The second All-Star has been locked up.

Yahoo Sports reports with confirmation from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the Oklahoma City Thunder have signed All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to a 5-year extension worth $80 million.
All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook has signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti finalized the deal with Westbrook’s agent, Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, on Wednesday night. The Thunder will hold a news conference when the team returns to Oklahoma City on Sunday.
SI.com confirmed the deal's terms.

The Thunder formally announced the signing in a press release later Thursday.
“We are thrilled to solidify Russell's future with the Thunder,” said [GM Sam] Presti. “Since we arrived in Oklahoma City, Russell's work ethic, persistence, character, and involvement in our community have helped us establish the standards that we are committed to on a day-to-day basis. He is a valued member of our organization and we look forward to his continued contributions on and off the floor.”

“We are very excited that Russell will continue to be a part of the Thunder organization,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Clay Bennett. “He has demonstrated high personal character, a strong commitment to his teammates and a remarkable dedication to the development of his performance as a player. We especially value his role in the community as he has consistently represented "Oklahoma City Basketball" with pride and integrity.”
Westbrook, 23, is an elite point guard in the NBA, boasting athleticism and explosiveness that few can match.

After making his first All-Star appearance in 2011, Westbrook is averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He was recently named as one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Olympics' Team USA. Westbrook was named to the 2009 All-Rookie first team and the 2011 All-NBA second team.

All-Star forward Kevin Durant and Westbrook represent arguably the best young 1-2 punch in the NBA. The Thunder inked Durant to a 5-year max extension in 2010. The pair led the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals in 2011.

Westbrook was selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft after spending two seasons at UCLA. Known for his competitiveness and fiery demeanor, Westbrook has received criticism for his shot-selection, turnovers and temper, especially during the 2011 playoffs, but his importance to Oklahoma City's long-term plans was never in question. Neither, really, was the size of his pay day. It's difficult to perform better during your rookie deal than Westbrook has in his 3+ seasons with the Thunder.

Oklahoma City currently holds the best record in the Western Conference at 12-3.
Posted on: January 18, 2012 8:02 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 8:08 pm
 

Video: Nazr Mohammed's half court blooper

Posted by Ben Golliver

Oklahoma City Thunder center Nazr Mohammed has never made a 3-pointer during 785 regular season games. That streak continues. But not for a lack of hilarious trying! 

Mohammed tried to be a hero as the first quarter came to a close during a Wednedsay night game against the lowly Washington Wizards. As another Washington possession failed through the carelessness of forward Andray Blatche, Mohammed found himself with the ball in his hands with 5.7 remaining on the clock. Unfortunately, there was also 1.5 seconds remaining on the Wizards' 24-second shot clock, which had not yet reset, and Mohammed got confused, thinking the final seconds of the quarter were ticking off.

He responded the only possible way: instead of getting out into a 2-on-1 fastbreak with guard James Harden, he heaved a half court attempt in an effort to duplicate the recent buzzer-beating success of guys like Los Angeles Lakers guard Darius Morris (here) and San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (here), who each hit 50-footers this week.

Instead, Mohammed's attempt hit nothing but air, and the ball turned back over to Washington with 2.7 seconds left. Whoops! This exact shot attempt has been made by every person attempting to play NBA 2K12 for the first time in their lives.

Here's the video of Oklahoma City Thunder center Nazr Mohammed's half court airball with time remaining. 


Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:50 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Class of 2008 still hunting for extensions

Posted by Royce Young



The clock is ticking for a lot of players in the 2008 draft class. Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon and Nicolas Batum are all looking for extensions, while Derrick Rose is the only guy to have signed one out of that group.

Blame the new collective bargaining agreement, I guess. I don't think it's any coincidence that the one guy that has his extension plays in Chicago, while the three that are still waiting play in Oklahoma City, Portland and Minnesota.

The deadline for extensions is Jan. 25 and with that just a week away, there isn't a whole lot of time to hammer something out. Don't get a deal done and those guys will become restricted free agents on July 1, which opens up a lot of possibilities. And less money, most likely.

Love reportedly will be getting an offer of four years, $60 million
, which he almost surely will turn down. Batum wants an extension but with his role being complicated behind Gerald Wallace, he's up in the air. Gallinari might be getting closer and Gordon has himself quite the awkward situation in New Orleans.

But what about Westbrook? He was an All-Star last season, second-team All-NBA and a rising star in the league. It should be a no-brainer for him to have an extension in his pocket and five more years in Oklahoma City. Shouldn't he have had his done a long time ago?

Except that situation is complicated and there are a number of reasons that Westbrook very well may not get extended before the Jan. 25 deadline. Why hasn't he been extended? The new CBA certainly has a hand in it, as well as Westbrook's teammates.

Westbrook and the Thunder are "dug in right now," according to Yahoo! Sports, but indications are the two sides will find a common ground between five years $80 million which is reportedly what OKC is offering and the max, which could potentially be five years and $94 million if Westbrook qualifies for the Rose Rule.

Which is exactly what's holding back the Thunder.

Based on observations, instinct and a few conversations with people in the know around and in the organization, the Rose Rule is what’s making the Thunder are bit more conservative than they otherwise would’ve been. Because if you extend Westbrook for the max right now and then he goes on to make an All-NBA team, he’d retroactively get a big pay bump.

What's the Rose Rule and why does it matter? It was added to the new collective bargaining agreement as something to help franchises keep their young stars. If a player is named MVP -- hence "Rose Rule" -- is voted twice a starter in the All-Star Game or makes two All-NBA teams, he qualifies for an extra five percent salary bump. So instead of getting a max extension, which is normally 25 percent of a teams cap, the player would get 30 percent. The rule has good intentions but for a team like Oklahoma City, it could be devastating because it has two players that could be eligible. Which would mean the Thunder could be paying out 60 percent of their cap to just two players.

For instance, Kevin Durant had his contract affected by the new Rose Rule and will make almost $15 million more over the life of his deal because of it. That prospect is something that the Thunder are leery of, especially considering James Harden and Serge Ibaka will be eligible for extensions next season.

Harden could be complicating that as much as anyone because of his rise as a high-caliber player. Harden has been compared often to Manu Ginobili, but that’s exactly the kind of dollar situation OKC wants to place Harden in. In 2010, Ginobili signed a three-year, $38 million extension with the Spurs. It paid him $11.8 million last season, $12.9M this season and $14.1M next season. The Thunder would love for that to be a five-year deal, but the dollar range is similar. Have Harden on the books for around $12 million a year, Durant at $17 million and Westbrook in the $15-16 million range.

That’s about $46 million which leaves room for a potential extension for Ibaka and role players like Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Daequan Cook and others. Remember, the luxury tax line was set at $70 million last season and that’s the number the Thunder want to stay away from. Right now though, because of the Rose Rule bumping Durant’s deal, OKC is actually over the cap. Which isn’t helping things.

There has been a good amount of chatter about “choosing” between Westbrook or Harden and Ibaka, but that’s not the thinking of the Thunder’s front office. Multiple sources have told me that the Thunder’s preference is to keep the entire core. That might sound painfully obvious, but in the team’s mind, they don’t want to be choosing between anything. They want this group to stay intact for a long run together where they grow, mature and develop. It might not be possible, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to try. That’s been the plan all along. These guys weren’t drafted just to develop over the life of a rookie deal and then move on. They were drafted to be part of a long-term vision.

That’s the plan. And that’s why there’s a hold-up. It’s a negotiation though. Westbrook and more important, Westbrook’s agent, obviously see Westbrook as a max player. While he probably is, or at least very close to it, in the best interest of the Thunder, he isn’t. I’m not saying it would be good for Westbrook to not play well enough to make All-NBA again, but if he didn’t, it wouldn’t be all bad.

Westbrook wants to remain a part of the Thunder and obviously the Thunder want to keep him. But it’s about dollars and cents lining up for the long-term sustainability of the team. I can’t say with any large amount of confidence that Westbrook gets an extension before Jan. 25, but I do believe he will be in OKC for the next few years.

But I guess we’ll get a better idea of that in about a week.

Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:25 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 2:27 pm
 

NBA GMs survey: Heat over Thunder in 2012 Finals

Posted by Ben Golliver  

lebron-last-second

The NBA's chief basketball operations executives have weighed in: The Miami Heat should win the 2012 NBA Finals.

An annual survey of the NBA's general managers by NBA.com reveals that 74.1 percent believe the Heat will revenge their 2011 Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Back in November, Miami was set by Las Vegas as the early favorite to win the title.

An overwhelming 96.3 percent voted Miami as Eastern Conference champions. Miami is currently the No. 6 seed in the East, trailing the conference-leading Chicago Bulls by 2.5 games. The Bulls received just 3.7 percent of the vote. Miami topped Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

Out West, the conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder are the clear favorite. 67.9 percent of voters believed the Thunder will win the Western Conference. OKC is currently 12-2 and already holding a 3-game lead in the conference. The Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs also received votes. The defending champion Dallas Mavericks,  who started the season slowly, did not receive a single vote.

The survey's selection for Division winners tended to favor established, veteran teams. In the East, Miami, Chicago and the Boston Celtics, currently toiling at 4-8, were picked. In the West, Oklahoma City, the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers were the picks.

Voters selected Thunder forward Kevin Durant over Heat forward LeBron James as the guess for league MVP. Durant is currently averaging 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.1 blocks in 35.9 minutes per game. James is averaging 29.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 2.0 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 37.5 minutes per game. Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, who is leading the NBA with 30.8 points per game, did not receive a single vote.
Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:55 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Baseline Awards 1.16.12: Rosey Run



Welcome to the Baseline Awards, a weekly feature that goes over the biggest stories of the past week and hands out awards. Because awards are fun!

Eastern Conference Player of the week: Best overall performance by Eastern Conference player

Tie: Dwight Howard/Derrick Rose

Dwight Howard absolutely annihilated teams this week. He only played in two games. During that back-to-back set he destroyed an elite team, the Blazers, and a pretty good team, the Warriors. Howard missed an epic tonnage of free throws vs. Golden State... and still scored 45 points and grabbed 23 rebounds. Against Portland he only scored 13 but had 13 rebounds and four assists. Howard is showing why everyone wants to trade for him.

But Derrick Rose? He's back to playing at an MVP level. No, I'm sorry, that's not right. Because he won the MVP last year and he's actually playing better this season, and did so this week. Rose played four games last week, sitting out with turf toe against the Wizards, and averaged 24 points and 9 assists. That last digit is particularly important. Rose has become a better passer, and is helping what is largely the same Bulls unit become better offensively. Be afraid, NBA.

Western Conference Player of the Week: Best overall performance by Western Conference player

Kobe Bryant

Um... have YOU scored 40 points in each game this week, four times straight? I didn't think so. If I have to explain this, you've been either living in a cave or in suspended animation only to discover a strange new world. Either way, let me break it down. Kobe Bryant = dominant offensively this week. There may be a cost on the Lakers' offense as a whole and the competition was a little weak, but that doesn't change the fact he scored 40 freaking points in four straight contests at age 33.

Struggler of the week: Player with worst performance qualified for expectations

LeBron James

The numbers are fine. The numbers aren't everything. I rarely if ever use the phrase "choked" but James choked away a very winnable game vs. Golden State by missing free throw after free throw. Then had similar issues against the Clippers, struggling in the fourth quarter and overtime. And finally he was frustrated and beaten handily by the Nuggets.

It was probably an outlier, he'll likely rebound, at least in the regular season. But James had a huge letdown after a promising start to 2011-2012.

DOMINATOR AWARD: Most dominant performance

Paul Millsap

Millsap was an absolute beast for the Jazz this week, helping them to a 3-1 record while averaging 23 points and nine boards...while shooting 62 percent from the field. In three of those games, he shot better than 55 percent. Millsap's ability to hit from range, finish inside, and score in the post is making him one of the most complete power forwards in the league. The Jazz really have something going (again) in Salt Lake, and Millsap this week has been a huge part of it.

Broken Promises Award

Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors

Jackson's guarantee of a playoff trip was questionable when he made it after being hired last summer and it looks even worse now, just 12 games into the season. The team's major free agent prize, Kwame Brown, is likely done for the year, a desperate ownership is realizing it can't make stars appear out of nowhere, and Stephen Curry is tragically sidelined yet again. Jackson, meanwhile, embarked on an historically stupid Hack-a-Dwight strategy en route to a home loss and then watched as his team laid an egg in Charlotte, of all places. The good news: the W's season will be over and Jackson will have plenty of time to get back to the rhyming dictionary to craft some new catchphrases. I know you wanted to make a splash; your mouth made a promise that your team can't cash.

Home Cookin' Award:

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland's hot start and contender buzz hit the brakes this week thanks to a 3-game losing streak. After an early-season win at Oklahoma City raised hopes that this new-look Blazers team might be over the road struggles of previous years, Portland lost back-to-back games in Texas to start its current 6-game road trip, bringing their road record to 1-4 through 11 games. Losing to the undefeated at home Spurs is no shame, but dropping one to the Houston Rockets in overtime can't happen if Portland is to reach its high internal expectations.

Fuzzy Math Award 

Boston Celtics 

The "Big 4" is Boston wasn't supposed to be a reference to how many wins the Celtics have through the first three weeks of the season. But that's where the aging C's find themselves and it's brought on the possibility of a full-fledged identity crisis in the works. Boston is average on offense, average on defense and pathetic on the boards. Given the major cap flexibility the Celtics will have this summer, the worst case scenario is that this season ends up being a waste of time between eras. But settling for that is painful given that four Celtics were 2011 All-Stars.

The Walter White Award

Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder.

It's not a coincidence that the two teams rolling along early in the season are the two squads that had virtually everything in place. With teams like the Knicks and Mavericks looking a bit lost with new pieces early on because of no training camp, the Thunder and Bulls haven't had issues because they haven't had to work on any chemistry. It's already there.

Dead Man Walking Award

Deron Williams 

I don't know how Deron Williams is putting up with this stuff, but he's obviously playing through gritted teeth. Kudos to him, but it has to be painful to basically be flushing a year and a half of your career down the toilet. The injury to Brook Lopez was unfortunate, but let's be honest: The Nets weren't going to be good regardless. If it all works out and Dwight Howard finds his way there, I'm sure he'll look back on these days as a good character builder, but if Howard goes elsewhere and Williams does as well, it'll just be wasted time.

The "Really, guys? Really?!" Award: Worst performance that isn't just bad, but inexcusable

Washington Wizards

You lost to the Bulls without Derrick Rose? Really? You let John Lucas go off on you, John Wall? Really? It's like every time we think the Wizards have hit the very bottom, they show us they can go just a little bit lower.

The "Begin Assembly" Award: Team starting to get it together

Memphis Grizzlies

A tough loss to the Lakers seemed to spark this team. They needed a boost and since that game in which they competed to the end, Rudy Gay has started to produce at the level he has to. Mike Conley is playing well. Marc Gasol is beasting. O.J. Mayo has his shot going. The Grizzlies are moving away from the debacle that was their first game against Chicago.

The "Tom Brady Is Better Than You" Award for Offensive Failure

The Sacramento Kings scored 42 points on Saturday through the third quarter. The Patriots scored 42 points againt the Broncos on Saturday. The Kings were outscored by an NFL team. I don't know who that's sadder for, the Kings or Tebow and the Broncos.

Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle:

Mark Jackson

Jackon's own players asked him not to go hack-a-Dwight vs. the Magic, feeling they could defend Howard. It would be one thing if it had worked, but Howard dominated them even with the missed free throws and it completely detonated the Warriors' offensive flow. Jackon's been pretty good overall this season, but that was a pretty damaging series of events.

Blog of the Week:

The Two Man Game

With the Mavericks starting to put it together, their analysis is relevant again, and TMG is the best Mavs blog out there. Thoughtful analysis and discussion on the bigger picture, which is what the Mavericks are all about this season.

Awards Watch:

MVP Five to Consider (no particular order):
Derrick Rose
Kobe Bryant
LeBron James
Dwight Howard
Kevin Durant

ROY Five to Consider:
Kyrie Irving
Ricky Rubio
MarShon Brooks
Kawhi Leonard
Iman Shumpert

6th Man of the Year Five to Consider:
James Harden
Al Harrington
Lou Williams
Jamal Crawford
Ricky Rubio
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com