We're running on fumes.....but we know a stud when we see one....and we are pretty sure we just saw one.
We're working on go-go-go schedule of 40 on and 8 off. As in 8 hours of sleep that is in two days. But the good part of it is that after what we just witnessed in a quick jaunt to Orlando for the NBA Summer League games, the forty on and eight off gig is not a problem.
That's because there was one player we wanted to evaluate and he passed with flying colors. Simply, our OKC-NBA team sure seems to have used pure genius when it selected UCLA's 19-year old combo guard with the fourth overall pick of the recent NBA draft.
My two were part of many eyebrows raised when young GM Sam Presti and the crusty veteran head coach PJ Carlisimo bypassed several guards and other more publicized players on the board to take a kid whose bio read, "raw, athletically gifted but turnover prone and not so good with the basketball in his hands." Not exactly a ringing endorsement for someone a 20-win team would want to run the ship through the Kevin Durant Era of the virgin ride of NBA ball in a new city.
But what we saw was not what we read. We saw a........well, the best way to describe it is that we saw a stud. After seeing him in the second of two summer league games, the revised bio is easy to describe: Legit 6-3 ½", long, unlike the smooth Chris Paul, Westy uses bursts of blinding speed and explosiveness that allows him to take it to the rim with authority. By getting it to the basket it allows him to dish it out to shooters, a necessity in the Association. A stud.
A tremendous defender, humble and refreshingly a tad shy in front of our cameras. Great body language, unselfish, and comfortable on the court, and the day we saw them play superstar Kevin Durant was in the lineup. Team-first guy, coachable with a terrific work ethic and attitude. Better three-point and overall shooter than advertised. Only tapped into potential. A pure bred stud muffin.
We will not say Westy will be a Hall-of-Famer we projected CP3 of the Hornets to be after watching him play a half dozen games in OKC his rookie season. But, we will say that it will stun us if the revved up OKC ticket grabbers will be dazzled at times by another fourth selection of the draft.
NBA Coach of the Year Byron Scott told me the first day we met that he just got the best player in the draft at when CP3 was on the board at No. 4. Don't get me wrong. Even though Westy has outplayed the ballyhooed first two players taken in the draft here in Orlando-Derek Rose of the Bulls and Michael Beasley of the Heat-no one is predicting he'll beat them out for Rookie of the Year honors.
But the P and P leaders of the OKC-NBA (puh-leez name the team soon!) are looking mighty smart right now.Take heed OKC fans. Every player I talked to said that they had been told there would be sellout crowds from the first to last final game. Hope that boastful promise will be fulfilled. If so it would be one of the more remarkable feats in NBA history. Give me seven win gains per season and I'll be ecstatic--give me 23 wins and an entertaining season and a lot of ping pong lottery balls for the Blake Griffin draft and I'd be more ecstatic Seven more wins would mean the20-win team would win 27 this coming year, 34 in year two and a break-even 41 wins and 41 losses in year three--not a guarantee of the playoffs, but hey, the Hornets were an exception to the rule with their rapid ascension. So snap up those tickets before corporate OKC is leaned on heavily to buy huge blocks to ensure big crowds. When a media guy like me is buying season tickets after getting in free for 30 years it should say something for how excited many of us are.