Check out the OK Hoops exclusive on how coach Lenny Hatchett brought in Tommy Griffin to join his staff at Edmond Santa Fe. Griffin is the father of LA Clippers All Star Blake Griffin. 

#ICYMI check in with the OK Hoops staff as they overreact to the first 72 hours of #NBA basketball. Check back tomorrow for more quality content from our guys!

Apparently Scott Brooks read this article because it seems like Perk is playing less… as he should be. Seriously though, is there a single national media member/outlet etc. that doesn’t agree Perk is awful??? It seems the only media people on the planet that actually defend Perk still being on the team for any reason are those “indirectly” employed by the Thunder… 

Anyway very entertaining read by Grantland’s Brian Phillips. 

Need more #NBA analysis than @okhoops can give you? Check out all the great stuff, and not so great stuff (I am talking to you Jalen Rose) on www.grantland.com 

ESPN “analyst” and Fab 5 member Jalen Rose made a couple controversial statements this week in regards to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

He made predictions that both KD and Russ would leave town for Houston and LAL respectively when their contracts expire… Or as he said it, “in a couple of years.” Well Jalen, a couple is 2. Last time I checked KD has 3 years remaining and Westbrook has 4. Also a quick trip to Logic Land would tell you Houston couldn’t fit KD, Harden and Dwight Howard under the cap, but hey who needs logic. 

Jalen and Bill have decided that last years #1 seed in the West can’t possibly overcome the loss of Kevin Martin and are now just the #6 team in the NBA going into the season. Only time will tell… 

Oklahoma Sooner section editor Trevor Rogers checks in with the recruiting happenings in Norman.

As first reported by Reggie Rankin of ESPN, Oklahoma picked up a commitment from 6-foot-9 post Kahdeem Lattin, out of Houston, Texas this morning. The commitment comes as a surprise to some, and is exciting nonetheless. Listed 96th in ESPN’s Top 100, Lattin, joins Jamiuni McNease of Allen, TX as Oklahoma’s second big man commitment for the class of 2014.

Lattin is the grandson of Texas Western’s David Lattin, whom was a part of the 1966 NCAA National Championship team that changed the face of basketball, and sports as a whole.

The 6 foot 9 post comes in as another player that fits Kruger’s game-plan of a defense first mentality. His ESPN scouting report lists him as an athletic, defensive center that can guard both inside, and out.

There is a lot of potential riding on the notion that he is a shot blocker, which bodes well for the Sooners. His explosiveness, and athleticism should also allow him to become a nice college rebounder as well.

The Texan’s offensive game needs work though. While his post game needs to be refined, he’s noted for is awareness at the top of the key, and can hit an open jump shot. In a motion-based offense, passing, and time is crucial. Having a big that can work in and out of the paint with a passing game, makes that offense work a lot more effectively. If a solid post game is developed Lattin, could go from a steady player to a force in the Big 12.

Other Front Court Options

The jury is still out on power forward Dante Buford, and small forward D’Angelo Allen and weather they will commit to Oklahoma.

Buford has received offers from South Carolina, Miami, Memphis, Oklahoma, SMU and others. Oklahoma did make his recent narrowing of his listt, along South Carolina and Miami. According to 247 Sports, he is expected to visit Oklahoma this weekend, then South Carolina before making a decision.

D’Angelo “Spyda” Allen, an athletic wing, could be in the same position of not announcing until National Signing Day. Allen has expressed interest in Texas, and Baylor, but has yet to receive an offer from either Scott Drew, and Rick Barnes. Along with his Oklahoma offer, he holds offers from Arkansas, Georgetown, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Marquette.

Should Oklahoma pick up either of these two forwards, the future of the Sooner’s front court would be promising.

One more potential big man option for the Sooners is Josh Cunningham, out of Chicago. He visited Oklahoma earlier this month and is another forward who’s stock is rising. He’s only listed at as a 3-Star recruit on ESPN, and Scout, but he is an explosive player that plays with intensity.

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The NBA season is nearly here, which means its time to preview the Thunder and their attempts to prove their title window is still wide open. OKHoops’ first bit of preview content will be an eight part prediction series of the Thunder’s 82 game season. To add an unique spin onto the preview, we’re adding a song from the catalogue of the world’s number one living and breathing Rock Star, Kanye West (his words, not mine. Please send hatetweets to @KanyeWest not @Sam_Duren). Each song will be the best attempt to capture the theme and attitude of each predicted stretch of games this season.

The Song: 

"Touch the Sky" from Late Registration (2005).

13 games, 9-4 

December 8th: vs Pacers W

December 10th: at Hawks L

December 11th: at Grizzlies L

December 13th: vs Lakers W

December 15th: vs Magic W

December 17th: at Nuggets W

December 19th: vs Bulls W

December 21st: at Spurs L

December 22nd: vs Raptors L

December 25th: at Knicks W

December 27th: at Bobcats W

December 29th: vs Rockets W

December 31st: vs Trail Blazers W

On the Season: 21-10

Key Verse:

””I gotta testify
Come up in the spot lookin’ extra fly
Fore the day I die, I’mma touch the sky

The December 8th home contest with the Indiana Pacers will be five weeks and one day into Oklahoma City’s season. Russell Westbrook is expected to miss four to six weeks of the season. *pauses to do math* Why yes, December 8th is right in the middle of four to six weeks. Which means Russell Westbrook in this 100% inaccurate prediction series will be making his return to the Peak for the Sunday December 8th match up with the Indiana Pacers. His return will be much like the joyous horns in “Touch the Sky” and fill Chesapeake with celebration, energy and the sweet smell of victory.

The good vibes of “WESTBROOK BACK” are short lived though, as the Thunder head back on the road for trips to Atlanta and Memphis. Hopefully the Thunder keep closes tabs on the young and impressionable Steven Adams and he doesn’t start the road to being the big man version of J.R. Smith after seeing too much of the ATL night life. After the loss in the 404, it’s a return to the Grind House of Horrors, which lives up to the name as OKC receives another L.

Things take an upswing when a pair of teams (Lakers and Magic) that are potential landing spots for Andrew Wiggins visit OKC, and the good times start rolling once again. After that it’s a Mile High victory, where Westbrook blocks’ another of Rocky the Nuggets’ mascot shot while “Touch the Sky” plays in the Pepsi Center. Then OKC wins the battle of surgical repair knees over the Bulls.

The reality of losing is often a cruel mistress, and who better to administer such a lesson than the cold and calculated San Antonio Spurs. Fallout from the loss at the hands of Popovich is still heavy in the air as a big performance from Rudy Gay gives the Thunder back to back losses for the third time this season.

A trip to New York for Christmas means a 1 PM local tip off time for the Thunder. And because of the early start time, the percentage of exasperated Oklahoma fathers breaking their children’s new noisy toys during the game will be higher than Carmelo Anthony’s and J.R. Smith’s shooting percentages in Oklahoma City’s victory. From there it’s a victory over the Bobcats that is so unremarkable, that the biggest story line is the fact that Michael Jordan wasn’t even in attendance for the Charlotte. Turns out that Jordan was too busy golfing somewhere sunny, over watching his bad team.

As Houston makes their first visit to OKC on the season, this contest becomes the first time all year the narrative surrounding a Rockets game is about “The dangers of Patrick Beverly” and not “Dwight Howard is a Rocket!” Grant Long also becomes the first color commentator to be ejected this season. During a timeout in the middle of the second quarter, Beverly came dangerously close to bumping into Westbrook, which caused Long to chunk a shoe at Beverly. Despite all the hoopla surrounding Beverly, OKC gets a comfortable win, even though angry Russell Westbrook showed up and missed two break away dunks by attempt to dunk too hard. The Thunder close out the year with a blow out home win over Portland, giving Thunder fans plenty of time to get to their New Year’s Eves parties.

OK Hoops’ Thunder writer Alex Joseph attended the recent Thunder-Jazz preseason contest

There comes a time in every man’s life when he is presented with an important choice. Whatever he chooses will forever reflect back to this one moment in time. Will his decision prove to be fruitful, or will he continually be haunted by what could have been? As I waddled away from my seat during Oklahoma City’s preseason game against the Utah Jazz last Sunday, I just so happened to fall victim to this scenario. Needing to stretch my legs for a bit, I decided to walk around the 3rd floor concourse of the Chesapeake Arena and ogle all of the food stands. I looked to my left—cotton candy; to my right—nothing but barbeque. I continued my stroll and somehow fell victim to the mixed aromas (not sure how, as open-passageway bathrooms are near all of these mini-eateries). I was suddenly hungry.

But where to begin? I only had a few minutes until halftime was over and more on-court preseason hilarity ensued. I needed something quick, something not overly messy and something I could carry without needing both hands. It was Sunday, therefore I kept getting fantasy football updates—that other hand needed to be free at all times, okay? After walking past a few beer carts and t-shirt stands, it was time to nestle into the shortest line I could see. I looked up at the menu: Hot Dog ($4.50), Nachos ($6.50), Footlong Corndog ($5.50). It seemed like no time had passed before I heard the phrase that ultimately ruined my night, “What can I get for you, sir?”

There I was, presented with three options that would forever decide the fate of the rest of my night (maybe even my life). After hearing the buzzer go off signaling the players to return to the court, I rushed my decision.

“I’ll take a hot dog, please.”

At first, I felt the weight being lifted off my shoulders. I thought I had made the right decision. Not only was the hot dog easy to carry, but it was the cheapest item of the bunch. Unfortunately, when the money-for-hot-dog exchange took place, I immediately saw what a terrible decision I had made. This so-called hot dog was wrapped in foil, bun and all, and looked like it had been beaten with a mallet. The bun was falling apart, the hot dog was unusually cold; I didn’t even stop for condiments. I was so perturbed with myself.

Instantly, I knew the footlong corndog was the right decision. Hell, even the frozen yogurt stand looked more appealing than the hot dog. For the rest of the second half, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my decision was bigger than the hot dog. I had to have chosen the hot dog for a reason, but what was it? Then it hit me. My hot dog was the Thunder (for at least that night). I had just spent the last 24 minutes watching undeniably boring preseason basketball and it left me wanting more. I wanted to see more from Kevin Durant than just five points and a pedestrian skyhook attempt. I wanted to see more from Steven Adams than the 10 solid minutes that he posted in the first quarter. I wanted to see more from the Thunder, in general. Instead, I got a hot dog.

Here are a few takeaways from the game that might actually be relevant to the season:

  • The Thunder won 88-82. It wasn’t pretty, though.
  • Utah is a definite bottom-dweller. It was hard for the Jazz’s first-team to get off good shots against Thunder reserves.
  • With that being said, Gordon Hayward is a really neat player. I want him to play for Oklahoma City. Also, on a team that will struggle to find its offensive identity, Hayward is going to be a late-round steal in fantasy basketball (just so you know).
  • Kevin Durant looked like he was moving in slow motion, and it still looked too easy for him to create shots. Durant and Hayward are complete opposites. Durant is the old guy playing pickup that is smooth with the ball and noticeably better than everyone else. Hayward is the young guy playing pickup that is really hustling and is trying to prove that he’s better than everyone else.
  • Serge Ibaka looks way more comfortable handling the ball. He was dribbling, spinning, posting up, etc.
  • Ibaka also might be way too comfortable taking jump shots. I know it’s only preseason, but my records show that he put up 482 free-throw-line-extended jumpers against the Jazz.
  • Jeremy Lamb had a really shaky game (and has had a really shaky preseason). He’s trying too hard, and it’s getting him in bad positions on the floor. There’s only so many guys he can crossover…
  • Like I mentioned earlier, Steven Adams had a really solid game. He held Enes Kanter scoreless in the first quarter and played him drastically better than Ibaka, Nick Collison or Hasheem Thabeet. Maybe just a hunch, but Adams will be starting over Perk a lot sooner than we might think.
  • Then again, Scott Brooks.
  • Andre Roberson fouled out in the third quarter. He also clanked a three-pointer off the side of the backboard. Not a stellar night.
  • Reggie Jackson had the stat line of the night (18 points, six assists and three rebounds). He also hit the first three-pointer of the game for the Thunder.
  • Unfortunately, that three-pointer didn’t come until there were three minutes remaining in the first half.
  • Thabo Sefalosha seemed to be way more involved in the offense. I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing.
  • The Thunder tried to run an extended 2-3 zone defense for a few possessions. That resulted in two wide open threes and a layup for the Jazz.
  • Scott Brooks trotted out 8 different lineups in the first half alone. I think it was because Perkins was out and he couldn’t employ his Perkins-Derek Fisher two vs. five strategy that he’s saving for the regular season.
  • Speaking of Fisher, I am always thoroughly impressed by his ability to dribble two basketballs at the same time so well during warmups.

The NBA season is nearly here, which means its time to preview the Thunder and their attempts to prove their title window is still wide open. OKHoops’ first bit of preview content will be an eight part prediction series of the Thunder’s 82 game season. To add an unique spin onto the preview, we’re adding a song from the catalogue of the world’s number one living and breathing Rock Star, Kanye West (his words, not mine. Please send hatetweets to @KanyeWest not @Sam_Duren). Each song will be the best attempt to capture the theme and attitude of each predicted stretch of games this season.

The Song:

"Through The Wire": College Dropout (2004)

9 Games, 7-2

November 18th: vs Nuggets W

November 21st: vs Clippers W

November 24th: vs Jazz W

November 27th vs Spurs W

November 29th: vs Warriors W

December 1st: vs Timberwolves W

December 3rd: at Kings W

December 4th: at Trail Blazers L

December 6th: at Pelicans L

On the Season: 12-6

Key Verse

Yo Gee, they can’t stop me from rapping, can they? Can they, huh?

I spit it through the wire, man There’s too much stuff on my heart right now, man

Despite the song selection, this isn’t suggesting an early return from Westbrook that has him playing on a bum knee like Kanye rapping this song with a broken jaw. This is about the Thunder stepping up following a rocky start, and taking care of business with a home heavy schedule.

Six straight home games make up the bulk of the stretch and even though it is loaded with likely playoff teams, the Thunder still find their footing and reel off six straight home victories. The little things start to break OKC’s way. After a slow start, Jeremy Lamb shows signs of life and basketball skills off the bench. Derek Fisher feeds off the crowd energy and has a couple of games filled with “Why is he shooti…. great shot” moments. Reggie Jackson also will play very strongly during this stretch. His performances will be so strong that some people will have strong sports takes that the Thunder are better with Jackson than they are with Westbhahahahahahah, sorry I can’t. Seriously if Jackson plays well, no one suggest that the Thunder are better off without Westbrook, please.

This six game home stand is also when the biggest garbage man in Oklahoma really starts to bond with the Chesapeake crowd. Steven Adams likely won’t set the world on fire this season, but he’s going to do the little things and slowly start endearing himself to the smart supporters. During this stretch people are going to notice his hustle to get the occasional transition dunk, the opportunistic put back, the actual catching and successful gathering for an easy dunk. The seeds planted here will set the stage for the fierce Perkins-Adams debates of 2014, which will surely be more hotly contested and covered than the 2014 Gubernatorial Election in Oklahoma.

Oh yeah, Durant scores a lot of points during the home stand. He goes over thirty points every game, maybe he even flirts with a fifty point game too. Because that’s what Durant does, he scores. A lot. He probably hugs his mom, Wanda, during the stretch too, because that’s something also he does. If he really wants to cut loose, maybe he even tells people that James Harden is better than Dwyane Wade again.

The final three games have the Thunder leaving the comforts of home and traveling around the Western conference. One game is at the Kings, and despite their new ownership, they’re still going to be bad. So that’s a win.

The other two are against a pair of teams that spent the off season making the moves to go from the lottery to the playoffs. With the combination of the road environments and rising young stars Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis seeing the chance to prove themselves against the Thunder, the Trail Blazers and Pelicans both trip up the Thunder to end this stretch.

The NBA season is nearly here, which means its time to preview the Thunder and their attempts to prove their title window is still wide open. OKHoops’ first bit of preview content will be an eight part prediction series of the Thunder’s 82 game season. To add an unique spin onto the preview, we’re adding a song from the catalogue of the world’s number one living and breathing Rock Star, Kanye West (his words, not mine. Please send hatetweets to @KanyeWest not @Sam_Duren). Each song will be the best attempt to capture the theme and attitude of each predicted stretch of games this season.

The Song:

"Spaceship", from "College Dropout" (2004)

(Note: The song does have a few expletive words)

9 Games, 5-4 

October 30th: at Jazz W

November 1st: at Timbewolves L

November 3rd: vs Suns W

November 6th: vs Mavericks W

November 8th: at Pistons L

November 10th: vs Wizards W

November 13th: at Clippers L

November 14th: at Warriors L

November 16h: at Bucks W

Key Verse

"I’ve been working this grave shift, and I ain’t made ****.

I wish I could buy me a spaceship and fly past the sky.”

On October 30th, Oklahoma City’s season will have officially started. There will be effortless Durant jumpers, Derek Fisher heat checks, perplexing Scott Brooks’ line up decisions, Serge Ibaka’s blocks and funny turnovers from everyone’s favorite center, Kendrick Perkins. But it’s going to be a hallow start because missing will be the complaining on Twitter about how a certain 6 foot 4 point guard is taking more shots than a certain 6 foot 10 small forward.

Russell Westbrook will still be on the sidelines when OKC tips off in Utah, and baring him developing a Johnny Manziel like healing ability, he will be watching from the bench for this nine game stretch. With his absence, this is going to lead a few frustrating losses that likely would’ve been avoided if Westbrook’s knee allowed Westbrook to be Westbrook. In Westbrook’s case these first few weeks will be similar to Kanye complaining about how he has been doing five beats a day for three summers and deserves to do these numbers. Because sadly, Westbrook spent all summer planning out of his pre and post game fashion choices and now will be forced to watch Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson attempt to pull them off (spoiler alert, neither can).

This is a manageable stretch for OKC without Westbrook. A pair of opponents that are clearly tanking (Utah and Phoenix) should be chalked up as wins. And home match ups against the Wizards and Mavericks make for two more wins, although if Derek Fisher is trying to stay in front of John Wall for an extended period of time, just turn off the TV. Just turn it off and walk away, because it’s not nice to laugh at your elders.

But here’s where the struggle lies without the spaceship like Westbrook, there are six roads games in this stretch. Trips away from Loud City are always choppy, but without Westbrook it could be downright ugly.

The back to back against California’s two best NBA teams (yes, we’re living in a world with the Clippers and Warriors are really good) would likely be losses even with a fully healthy team, so no shame there. But those trips to the great Northern cities of Minneapolis and Detroit is where the lack of Westbrook really hurts. Both the Timberwolves and Pistons have spent the last half decade losing a lot of games and making funny moves in the off-season. Along the way though, they have both picked up some nice young building blocks and this should be the year both make the move into being respectable NBA franchises again. Which means that the limping Thunder will be tripped up by these hungry for success squads.

The Bucks would be included among the road defeats, as they should be a competitive and average NBA team, but Durant is going to drop an angry forty spot to get the win there. This will not only close out the “Spaceship” stretch on a positive note, but KD’s destruction of the Bucks will double as a promotion for his new shoes that are inspired by Venison Chili. The “VC” shoes will surely be a bigger seller in Oklahoma than his current Peanut Butter and Jelly inspired kicks.