HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The Thunder React To Derek Fisher Signing
By Susan Bible
Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks gave Derek Fisher fair warning. As crazy as it sounds, Fisher logged minutes in a Thunder uniform roughly two hours after his acquisition was publicly announced. Without a doubt, Brooks knew what lay ahead for his newest player.
“I don’t know if he’s ready for this, but he’s going to get an 18,000-person hug tonight,” Brooks said prior to Fisher’s first Thunder game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
Sure enough, when Fisher checked in at the scorer’s table with 1:47 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Brooks’ declaration proved accurate. Thunder fans jumped to their feet, clapping wildly for close to 40 seconds, drowning the announcer’s introduction. Fisher kept to his usual routine, stretching and reading the floor, almost as if he didn’t hear the booming welcome inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“Definitely a humbling moment for this community to open their arms this quickly right away to the new guy,” Fisher said. “It was special and really helped me to settle in right away.”
Fantasy: Stock Up/Stock Down
By Tommy Beer
With a number of different NBA rosters shaken up as a result of deadline deals, we have seen a handful a new faces emerge and must-start fantasy factors. We’ve also witnessed a couple of proven studs stepping up their game to elite levels. And, as always, the injury bug has bitten, and fantasy fates have been adjusted accordingly.
Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors:
The majority of his rookie campaign, Klay Thompson was playing approximately 18-20 minutes a night a reserve off the Warriors bench, and posting decent numbers on a per-minute basis. However, he wasn’t given enough playing time to make a major impact in fantasy circles. All that changed the moment Golden State shipped Monta Ellis to the Bucks in exchange for Andre Bogut and Stephen Jackson prior to the trade deadline early last week. Klay played 42 minutes that first game with Monta, and Mr. Thompson has been rolling along nicely ever since. Golden State got blown out by the Rockets on Thursday night, so the starters didn’t play their usual allotment of minutes; however, over the Warriors previous five games, Thompson was averaging 21.2 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.0 3PT’s and 1.2 steals. He is also 17-of-17 from the FT stripe during this stretch. With Ellis out of the picture, and the Warriors building towards the future, Coach Mark Jackson is obviously eager to see exactly what he has in Klay. Thus, there is no reason to assume Thompson’s PT (or corresponding) production will decrease anytime soon.
The 2013 Free Agents
By Mark Nugent
The 2013 free agent class got a huge boost when star center Dwight Howard decided to opt-in for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013. Along with point guard Chris Paul, Howard will headline a deep class that has everything from superstars to solid role players.
Please note; restricted free agents have been grouped together by position. While it is fun to imagine James Harden signing with the Chicago Bulls and starting next to Derrick Rose, restricted free agents rarely change teams. The bigger names, like Harden, generally re-sign with their current team either for one more season so they can become an unrestricted free agent the following year, or they work out a long-term deal.
Dwight Howard, Unrestricted
Howard is likely the top player on the free agent market in the summer of 2013. He is the most dominant big man of his generation and he is a force on both ends of the floor. Every team in the league will want Howard and he has already spoken publicly about his desire to enter free agency, so it’s unlikely he will sign an extension with the Magic. Plus, there is no incentive to sign an extension under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Making The Playoffs-Eastern Conference
By Lang Greene
With the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror it’s time to evaluate which teams have positioned themselves to make a strong playoff run and which franchises are more than likely going to be participating in the upcoming draft lottery.
Record: 38-10 (19-4 home – 19-6 away)
Games remaining: 18 (10 Home, 8 Away)
Games versus +.500 opposition remaining: 9
Current Position: 1st Place, Eastern Conference
Breakdown: The Bulls surprised many by finishing last season with the best record in the league. As an encore Chicago is poised for a repeat performance in 2012. The team has been on fire for most of the season despite two of their All-Stars, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, missing significant time due to various injuries. But like all successful teams they’ve shown the ability to overcome all types of adversity thrown their way.
Making The Playoffs-Western Conference
By Stephen Litel
Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 34-12 (19-4 at home – 15-8 away)
Games Remaining: 20
Games versus +.500 opposition remaining: 12
Current position: 1st place, Western Conference
Breakdown: The Oklahoma City Thunder are on a quest to take the final step in their development as the best of the West this season by playing well from the beginning of the season. They are that perfect blend of young talent and playoff experience, so they have big plans for the postseason of 2012. They dominate at home and are well above .500 on the road, so now their main goal is to lock up home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
Late Season Schedule Watch: From April 14-22, the Thunder will go on a five-game road trip which will take them to Minnesota, LA against the Clippers, Phoenix, Sacramento and back to LA to face the Lakers. This stretch of games could go a long way in determining whether or not they land home court advantage throughout the West.
If Playoffs Started Today: The Thunder would face the Houston Rockets in the first round. Oklahoma City and Houston split their season series 2-2.