Clay Bennett Should Hire Jerry West

Any real big surprise the LA Clippers have turned their culture around since the Jerry West hire as special executive director to owner Steve Ballmer? None from me. Obviously… I’m not picking the 15-6 Clippers to win the West, but they will be a team I watch very closely this summer as several super stars relocate.

Jerry West just wins. He won as a Laker. As a player, as a coach, and as a GM. He won as a GM in Memphis. He helped turned the Golden State Warriors into what we see now in as I mean the good parts. And now Jerry West is with the Clippers because evidently Steve Ballmer became weary of pissing his money away on an under achieving team.

Clay Bennett should call Jerry West. He really should and at least try to pick his brain if he can’t hire him at some point. The one glaring weakness I see in Sam Presti is his inability to hire a coach who in essence might challenge him for alpha status within the organization. I see that as the glaring weakness in the Thunder as to why the Thunder with all their MVP’s have never won anything. A strong coaching voice would never have allowed Russell Westbrook’s bad habits to stay in place this long. I would love to hear what Jerry West would do with the Thunder. I would. I know what I would do. That being, I’d trade Russell Westbrook at the conclusion of this season if the team doesn’t make the Western Conference Finals and get as much in return as I could. I’d love to know what Jerry West would do.

Westbrook Ties Kidd As Thunder Beat Lowly Cavs, 100-83

Even with Kyle Korver the Cavs are a horrible basketball team, without him they’re borderline unwatchable. So with Kyle Korver being traded to the Utah Jazz there really wasn’t much to watch as I now can stop wasting my time wondering if Sam Presti would somehow acquire Korver for his three point shooting challenged Thunder.

The Thunder shot 22% from threes in this game but it didn’t matter because arguably the Cavs and the Phoenix Suns are the two worst teams in the NBA currently. In case you haven’t noticed five of OKC’s thirteen wins so far this season come against these two horrible basketball teams. Otherwise, OKC is 8-7 for the season with one of the easiest opening twenty games of any NBA schedules this season.

I’m ready to see OKC start playing good teams. I’m bored. But to OKC’s credit they are 2-2 against the Clippers and the soap opera Warriors. The West is an absolute mess right now so in reality the Thunder being 13-7 and the No. 4 seed is one of the few signs of normalcy in the conference. I’m not sure what to make of the West as Houston even without Carmelo is currently at No. 14. The Rockets shouldn’t be this bad without Carmelo. LeBron and his Lakers are about what I thought they would be. So we’ll see.

Russell Westbrook notched his 107th triple double in this game tying Jason Kidd for third on the list of career triple doublers. I’m almost certain Nick Gallo won’t be able to sleep tonight and will be all amped up wearing his Russell Westbrook footie jammies. Games like this bore me. Actually, the 15 minutes played by sub Deonte Burton were to me the most compelling minutes of the game with Diallo still out with an injured ankle. Burton is interesting. He has a unique body type for the Thunder. Fragile Alex finally returned and promptly went 1-8 shooting threes. Equally frilly Terrance Ferguson is still hurt. My first observation twenty games in is that Sam Presti may not be able to depend on either of these two guys as the season moves along. Maybe Donovan should roll with Diallo, Roberson, and Burton and at least get some athletic toughness from the shooting guard position.

The Korver trade was the one I was hoping Presti would make….Abrines and Ferguson for Kyle Korver. But it didn’t happen and now Korver gives the Jazz another nice piece as they need to get their season untracked as well. Four teams need to get untracked league wise…the Celtics, the Rockets, the Jazz, and the Spurs.

OKC plays another bad team on Friday with a game against the Atlanta Hawks at the Peake then their season finally starts getting interesting with a game against the Pistons. From that point forward we should start finding out a little more about this Thunder. But really, they appear to me to be what I thought they would be…. a fourth place team which will probably have trouble getting out of the first round in the West unless they shore up their three point shooting woes.

I’m ready to see some basketball after the college football playoff is set. I wonder if Deonte Burton could play safety for Lincoln Riley. Just a random thought. OU regent Clay Bennett should check into that for the Sooners.

OU vs. Texas in Late November

It feels kind of funny with this not being in early October. It also feels odd in that for the first time in my life OU and Texas will play each other twice in the same football season.

When this new ten team Big 12 evolved after Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri, and Colorado left the conference this matchup is what many expected to be an annual meeting of sorts. But it’s taken awhile for this to happen as Texas struggled with its program before finally showing some traction this season in Tom Herman’s second season in Austin.

The Big 12 needs this matchup if the conference is going to remain viable. These two iconic programs have to lead the Big 12 in football. Oklahoma has more than kept its part of the deal. The Sooners have been to two Final Fours and with a win in this game will probably make their third appearance in the college football playoff since its inception. If the Sooners win this game it will also mark their fourth straight Big 12 championship. No team has ever done this before.

From a conference standpoint this is a huge game with national implications. Historically, this could be where Texas draws a line in the sand and proclaims its intent to get back to yearly national relevance. Same thing could be said in the SEC championship game as Georgia continues its climb back to national relevance a year after making the national championship game against Alabama.

Notre Dame at 11-0 will be in the field. Alabama is in the field even if they lose against Georgia. Clemson is in if they beat Pitt in the ACC championship game. Nobody cares what the PAC 12 does on Saturday for the second straight season. OU and Ohio State are on the bubble while Georgia is only in if they beat Alabama.

If you’re a college football fan this is your favorite week of the season bar none.

If you’re either an OU or Texas fan this is new ground. This is something different having a second Red River Rivalry twice in a period of less than two months.

But this is what the forefathers of this ten team Big 12 envisioned as the saving grace for a football conference with ten teams where you play everybody at least once and if you’re lucky you get to play someone a second time in late November.

OU vs. Texas for an encore. The purists will say they hate it. I think it could be the saving grace for a conference which needs a brand boost in the worst way.

Can OU Make The Final Four?

I didn’t think OU had a chance, but given the way Michigan lost to Ohio State on Saturday there appears to be a path for OU to be Final Four bound for the third time in four years.

Here’s the first thing, I’m not sure anybody in college football is all that good defensively. I mean, Michigan was supposed to be the best defensive team in the land and they were just torched by an Ohio State offense which is good, but not as good as OU’s offense.

And who has Alabama really beaten? What’s their best win? The SEC West minus Bama was dogshit this season. LSU just lost their third game. Auburn lost five games and Malzahn might get fired. A&M even with Jimbo Fisher lost four games. Arkansas is horrific. Both Mississippi schools aren’t much. So…really what has Alabama done? Not all that much. Who’s the best QB they’ve faced?

Yeah, if OU beats Texas… I think they’re in the Final Four.

The committee wants good games. They want TV ratings. They’ll remember last year’s epic national semi-final with Georgia beating OU in overtime. They’ll want the best player in the nation in Kyler Murray in their tournament. The football world has been talking Patrick Mahomes more than any other player this season. Second on that list would be what Kyler Murray has done this football season before becoming an Oakland A. Mahomes was previously drafted by the NY Yankees. What great duel storylines this football season. Have you noticed a theme here? That being, minus what Drew Brees is doing this season the next three most talked about QBs this season are Mahomes, Mayfield, and Murray. That’s why five star defensive players stay in the SEC. That’s why.

Does OU have a defense issue? They do. But I’m pretty sure any team which plays in the Big 12 is going to have an issue on the defensive side of the ball because five star defensive high school players in the South who want to play in the NFL don’t risk their NFL draft stock by playing in the Big 12. That’s why OU should have joined the SEC when they had the chance, but that’s another story.

Google which states per population per capita produce the most NFL players and it goes…Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Just imagine this OU offense paired with a defense with a couple of SEC five stars anchoring their defense. It would be scary.

I don’t think OU can win the national championship, but I do think they now have more than a punchers chance of getting to the Final Four thanks to what Ohio State showed the committee this past Saturday. That being, there aren’t any great defenses out there except maybe Alabama and they haven’t played anyone to date. Not even Purdue. Know what I mean?

America’s Team Improves to 4-6-1

The Cleveland Browns handled the Bengals on the road today to improve to 4-6-1. It was the Browns second straight win and technically speaking the Browns are still alive for a wild card berth. The Browns have three tough road assignments with five games left so I still think a six win season in Cleveland should be the realistic goal in Baker Mayfield’s rookie season.

Since the coaching change Mayfield has been very good and the Browns have also gotten healthy for the first time since the season opener.

Mayfield was excellent on Sunday throwing for four TDs, no intercepts, and but yet seven incompletions. Since the coaching change his completion rate has been slightly above seventy per cent.

To me…if you want to compare Baker to a contemporary QB…it’s Drew Brees. The size, the mobility to buy time, the smarts, the competitive drive, the accuracy, the generally good decisions with the football. Plus, I like his surrounding cast with Chubb, Johnson, Landry, Calloway, and the big tight end who’s name I can’t spell. Next season if they stay intact—the Browns should have a very solid offense. If I’m Dorsey, I’m looking for a home run threat receiver, another offensive lineman or two, and some more physicality on defense. I like their future.

Quite simply, the Browns need stability from their ownership and just some time together to learn how to win big games when it matters.

I like their future if ownership doesn’t screw it up.

The Browns have a very tough road assignment next week in Houston against a very good Texan team. But if the Browns play with some poise it wouldn’t shock me if they pulled off an upset.

Can Sam Presti Win Anything With Russell Westbrook?

You’ll notice I didn’t include Billy Donovan in this question? I didn’t because he’s not relevant in this question of whether the Thunder can win the Northwest Division let alone an NBA championship with Russell Westbrook as their point guard.

This will ultimately be Sam Presti’s call. This is his team. He puts it together each season. He has built it around Russell Westbrook.

At times it looks good on paper after one of those nights when Russell Westbrook somehow pulls it together. On other nights when Westbrook can’t come to terms with the fact he’s not Steph Curry… the team looks pretty much horrific. Like a bunch of throw togethers with one guy hogging the ball and repeatedly taking as assortment of poor risk/reward shots.

The latter is what the Thunder looked like at home on Saturday night as the decent Denver Nuggets toyed with the Thunder for a coast to coast 105-98 win over the Thunder.

Sam Presti is not a stupid person. He knows his craft. But at what point do you continue this in Oklahoma City with the highest payroll in the league with a team which right now to me looks like they could very well not win the Northwest Division.

Think about what I just wrote…with the highest payroll in the league is it fair to ask out loud if maybe Sam Presti needs to make one more move.

You can’t win big in this league being a stupid basketball team. You just can’t do it. And I hate writing this because I’m not Jim Traber and I don’t enjoy writing this, but at what point do you have that come to Jesus moment with Russell Westbrook and say, ” Wild Thing, it’s not me, it’s you. I need a break.”

For some reason which I can’t figure out some 12 hours after Saturday night’s 105-98 loss to the pedestrian Nuggets at home…I’m wondering how Sam Presti can come to terms with the fact Russell Westbrook went 1-12 shooting threes in this basketball game. Russell Westbrook shouldn’t be chucking six threes a game… let alone twelve. You know why…because he’s not good at doing it most of the time.

If you’re a baseball pitcher and your curveball sucks…. then you know what? You don’t throw it very often.

You can finish above .500 with Russell Westbrook. You can maybe even get a top four seed in the West. But do you really think when you get to post season against the better teams and better coaches you can win sixteen games and four different series?

No way. Because NBA post season play is a puzzle of adjustments and re-adjustments every game as a series moves along. You can’t be like Rocky Balboa and lead with your face. Russell Westbrook leads with his face and every coach in the league knows it and calibrates their game plan with that in mind.

I hate writing this because I want Westbrook to succeed in Oklahoma City, but for some reason which I can’t decipher beyond just Westbrook’s ultra stubborn competitiveness…he can’t come to terms with the player he is.

Russell Westbrook is not Steph Curry. He’s not Kyrie Irving.

What he is…is a glorious grinder.

A grinder for the ages. A Hall of Fame grinder.

But one who needs to be told….quit jacking stupid threes. Be yourself as a player because that’s not a bad thing.

Sooners Advance to Big 12 Title Game, 59-56

I didn’t watch the Thunder hang on against the Hornets because I was riveted to OU’s play-in game versus West Virginia in Morgantown. I picked OU 56-53 while Vegas moved their spread all around this week before settling on OU -3. So who could be surprised at the outcome with the Sooners improving to 11-1 and now headed to face the Longhorns for the first time ever in the Big 12 title game.

In a perfect world this is how the forefathers of the Big 12 saw the conference emerging with OU and Texas as the two iconic brands taking the lead and carrying the conference mantle.

So here we are finally in 2018 with a Red River Rivalry repeat in the Big 12 title game at Jerry’s World. I’m going OU -4.5 on my first early spread of the week leading up to the game.

If OU plays like they can they should win the game. Where they go after that depends on a couple of games today and some games next week-end as well in the conference championship games.

I thought the story in this win was OU’s defense finally creating two huge sacks, two huge fumbles, and two defensive touchdowns in the second half when once again I thought Lincoln Riley went a touch conservative with his play calling. So the defense making some impact plays was actually critical.

When you consider OU was without Rodney Anderson and with a still gimpy Trey Sermon it was a very good win.

As we saw on Monday Night Football with the Chiefs and Rams the game has changed everywhere, not just in the Big 12. It’s all space and time oriented as is the NBA and the NHL. Fans want to see scoring in all sports, not just football. This isn’t just an OU thing. But still, the OU defense is in need of some changes once the season ends.

You’re not dead until you’re dead. And technically speaking…OU is still alive for a Final Four spot. Stranger things have happened. You know, if OU could get some more sacks and some more big turnovers from their beleaguered defense they could do some interesting things with Kyler Murray and Company.

OU will now be seeking their 4th straight Big 12 championship. OU has never accomplished this before their in storied football history.

It should be a great week in anticipation of OU-Texas II.

Just take care of the ball and don’t take stupid penalties should be the mantra at OU practices this week. OU is the better team.

Andre Roberson’s Tough Journey Back

Even though Andre can’t make a free throw to save his life—he’s one of my three favorite players on this year’s Thunder team. Maybe one of my Thunder favorites of all-time because of the way he plays defense and runs the court in transition. He just personifies team to a letter. I love him. He’d be a great young man for someone’s daughter to marry. That play in Detroit when he went down with the ruptured patella has I’m sure been the challenge of Andre’s basketball life. I’m just so impressed with him as a young man.

I’m sure this is going to take awhile for him to get his lateral wheels back. Basketball is like hockey in that defensively you square the body and have to sustain contact moving any direction.

This was my favorite preseason interview of Thunder players this season. No questions about his free throw shooting. Does that tell you how much the local guys rightfully respect Andre Roberson?

My three favorite players this season are Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and Paul George.

Welcome back, Andre Roberson.

Durant, Westbrook Observations

You know, after praying for Hamidou Diallo last night, I prayed for Kevin Durant as well. I honestly did because it’s apparent to me this is a tortured person internally who for whatever reasons can’t come to terms with himself. I’m not being sarcastic. It’s just sad to observe from a human standpoint.

I don’t know, but I know it’s complex. I know Kevin Durant is not a person happy within himself for whatever reasons.

And I find that sad. I feel like a bully even calling him Cupcake at this point. I’ve never booed Kevin Durant and I never will. I shouldn’t call him Cupcake either. I swore I wouldn’t do that.

He has all the money anyone could want. He has fame. He has two make believe NBA championship rings. And he has the knowledge he’ll be in the Hall of Fame. But he doesn’t seem to have found inner peace and happiness despite having Draymond Green as his life coach.

It drives home the point you can have all the material things in life and not find happiness in the end.

And then there’s Wild Thing who’s never going to win an NBA championship because of his inability to play under control. He’s probably going to be regarded as one the greatest players of all time for regular season stats, but not much in post season. But he seems like the happiest dude on the face of the earth. Can you imagine the way these Westbrook children are going to dress? Who really needs to win an NBA championship to be happy? Can you imagine how much fun the four grandparents are going to have with these kids? Circle of life, Cupcake. Circle of life, bruh.

Westbrook seems content and at peace. Durant appears to be chained to the basketball demons and to real life perceptions of himself which I guess he doesn’t like all that much. Or won’t accept as fair.

Westbrook seems to have a complete understanding of the circle of life. He seems at ease within the Universe of Westbrook. I could do lunch with Westbrook once I got past the first sixty seconds of ranting about the way he plays at times. After that, we’d be good.

Westbrook has a beautiful wife. His UCLA soulmate. His parents. His brother. His son. His two new twin daughters. His tight inner circle of friends. Sam Presti and Clay Bennett. His universe. His clothes. Heck, even me over at the rogue blog.

How ironic all of this is and how sad for Kevin Durant.

Maybe, just maybe, Kevin Durant should have allowed Russell Westbrook to be his life coach instead of Draymond Green now that we’ve seen how it’s going to end in Golden State after this season.

Would Russell Westbrook take Kevin Durant back and help him find inner peace as a man since Draymond couldn’t get it done as the new life coach designate?

It’s complicated for sure. It really is. Antonio Daniels can’t break this down on the Thunder Insider like I can on here. He can’t and won’t. Traber shouldn’t even attempt this. Too much nuance.

So in the end what is Durant’s legacy going to be if he leaves Golden State like a spoiled child or forces Draymond Green’s exit after this season?

LeBron went back to Cleveland and won the city a championship. Michael won six NBA rings with the Bulls. Kobe stayed with the Lakers his entire career as did Magic. Bird was a Celtic for life. Dirk never left Dallas even when the team was bad. Timmy was Pop’s adopted son. Steph and Klay will be regarded as the soul of the Warriors’ era.

And then there will be Durant. Hopefully he finds himself at the next stop.

Sam Anderson, make sure you read my book.

Positive Thanksgiving News For Hamidou Diallo

I can’t believe it, it’s only an ankle sprain. Good thing for Hamidou that I’m not his doctor or I might have amputated his leg after seeing that fall. No questions…just a hasty amputation. Despite the great positive news I’m not putting that video of him falling on my blog. I’m so happy for him. What great Thanksgiving news. Whoo!

Hamidou Diallo…the five star prospect.