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News » Mike Monroe's NBA Beat


Mike Monroe's NBA Beat


Mike Monroe's NBA Beat
POWER RANKINGS

The rest

11. Heat (14) 21. Bucks (19) 12. Jazz (9) 22. Thunder (25) 13. Mavericks (12) 23. Nets (22) 14. Hawks (11) 24. Bulls (24) 15. Pistons (13) 25. Warriors (26) 16. Suns (15) 26. Raptors (23) 17. Bobcats (18) 27. Clippers (29) 18. Knicks (21) 28. Wizards (30) 19. Timberwolves (17) 29. Kings (28) 20. Pacers (20) 30. Grizzlies (27)

8. Hornets (7): Ex-Spurs player Devin Brown knows the life of NBA journeyman; he lives in a hotel near the French Quarter.

9. 76ers (16): Brand is back, but Dalembert's rolled ankle could slow their 8-2 run.

10. Rockets (8): Artest, on the Rockets' learning curve: "We're in elementary school. How do we go for PhD beyond midseason?"

BASELINE CUT

Thunder making noise thanks to young players

There was no champagne popped, but the Thunder's victory Monday over the Nets officially eliminated any possibility they might match the 1972-73 76ers for the worst record (9-73) in league history.

Three Thunder players will compete in the Rookie Challenge over All-Star Weekend, and Kevin Durant, the reigning rookie of the year, has been reminding anyone who will listen that point guard Russell Westbrook has slipped into the conversation about this year's award.

"Not to take away from the other two guys, they're playing well, but Russ needs to be in the conversation," Durant told the Daily Oklahoman. "I think we've got to continue to play well, first of all. And he has to continue to do things he's doing, play defense and get this team started. But sooner or later people in this league will take notice."

In case you haven't noticed, Durant has been playing like an All-Star since interim coach Scott Brooks moved him from big guard to small forward. The former UT great averaged 27.8 points in January, moving into sixth place in the league scoring race. He won't turn 21 until September, and his pre-21 production, 21.9 points per game, is better than that of Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade and Tracy McGrady.

The third Thunder player picked to go to Phoenix for the Rookie Challenge is Jeff Green, who has emerged as one of the best young power forwards in the league.

The future looks bright for a team that looked dreadful through the first two months of the season, and the more the Thunder win, the more general manager Sam Presti will seem like the young player personnel whiz Gregg Popovich once called the Spurs' resident genius.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 2, 2009

 

 
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