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News » 5 reasons for OKC fans to keep an eye on Suns

5 reasons for OKC fans to keep an eye on Suns

5 reasons for OKC fans to keep an eye on Suns Oklahoma City opens its preseason home schedule tonight against the one opposing team Thunder fans should track the most in 2009-10 - the Phoenix Suns.

Tonight's game is only game three of the exhibition season for both teams. That means there is the potential for some bad stretches of Basketball played by guys you might have never heard of. But Thunder fans should pay close attention to these Suns this season because no team will have more of an impact on Oklahoma City.

Here are five reasons to watch the Suns:

→The Thunder owns Phoenix's first-round pick

Here's why Thunder fans want to ROOT against Phoenix. The worse the Suns do, the better the draft selection becomes that Phoenix must convey to the Thunder . Many project the Suns to be worse than last year's squad that won 46 games and missed the playoffs. If that happens, the Thunder could own two top-14 selections in next year's draft.

→The race for the eighth seed

With Houston losing Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to injuries and Ron Artest to free agency, the Rockets are widely considered to be a team in decline. If the Rockets miss the playoffs this season, that will open one spot for a postseason hopeful in the highly competitive Western Conference. The Thunder would exceed everyone's expectations if it reached the eighth seed. But that ambition would be assisted if the Suns fall off.

→Will Amare Stoudemire be dealt?

The answer to that question could greatly shape the outcome of the Suns' season. Phoenix flirted with trading the four-time All-Star forward last season and throughout the summer. If the 26-year-old is moved before February's trade deadline, the Suns officially will be committed to rebuilding. His potential destination also could hold a significant impact on the playoff picture if he's traded to a contender.

Taylor Griffin is a Sun

The Oklahoma City native and former OU forward has proved he could make it to the NBA. The Suns selected him with the 48th overall pick. Phoenix is trying to turn the 6-foot-7 Griffin into more of a perimeter-oriented, finesse player. So don't be shocked to see Taylor Griffin hoisting 3s and taking his man off the dribble.

→Run-and-gun in the Valley of the Sun

Coach Mike D'Antoni has taken his high-wired act to New York, but the engine that made it run, Steve Nash, is still around. Nash has lost some of his weapons, but the Suns still could be ver y entertaining. Even with a lumbering big man in Shaquille O'Neal and a new coach in Alvin Gentry, Phoenix led the league in scoring at 109.4 points last season. The Suns have shed the big man, and with Nash, Stoudemire, Jason Richardson and Leandro Barbosa there still should be plenty of points put up in Phoenix.

Suns AT Thunder

→Time: 7 tonight

→Where: Ford Center

→TV: KSBI-TV (Cox 9)

→Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

Three things to know

→Tonight's game is the Thunder's preseason home opener.

→Nick Collison (ankle) and Thabo Sefolosha (mild concussion) are both questionable.

→Suns guard Steve Nash has played in only one of Phoenix's two preseason games.


Durant expresses frustration with critics

Kevin Durant used his Twitter account Sunday to express frustration with critics who question his individual abilities and the Thunder as a team. Durant didn't reveal who he was directing his series of messages to, but his target appeared to be a recent critical analysis piece written by that examined his talents and worth to a franchise.

On Friday, the Web site's popular NBA blog, TrueHoop, ran a post titled, "The Kevin Durant Conundrum." It explored Durant's low plus/minus numbers and concluded, "Anyway you slice the +/- numbers, he's one of the Thunder's worst players."

Durant responded: "Everybody that is doubtin' me as a player and my team as a whole...all I can say is that we all are tryin' and workin' our hardest!

"What more do you want? Let me be the player I am...I come to practice everyday...and push myself to my limit, God has put me (in) a (great) position!!!

"I love all the REAL Basketball fans who appreciate hard work, passion and love for the game...and not (just) 'plus and minuses'...(whatever that) is." BROOKS LOOKING FOR MORE OUT OF HARDEN

Through his first two preseason games, No. 3 overall pick James Harden has displayed ups and downs regularly seen from rookies. Harden enters tonight's game against Phoenix averaging 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. He started both games at shooting guard but regressed in his second outing Saturday at New Orleans, turning the ball over four times and passing up several shots en route to only eight points in 30 minutes.

"One of the things James Harden's going to have to realize is when he has an open shot, he has to take it," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "There were probably five or six times in the fourth quarter (Saturday) where he was open and did not take it. He brought it out and started probing. That's not the way we play. He has to break that habit." BRIEFLY

The documentary "Sonicsgate," which examines the Sonics move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, will be released on the Internet today. The film can be found at ... Nenad Krstic said he was battling illness Friday and became dizzy on the bench during Saturday's game after being elbowed in the face by Hornets center Hilton Armstrong. Krstic said Sunday's day off was much-needed.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 14, 2009


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