“James came into his own once we made a significant change with Jeff [Green],” said Presti at a press conference on Sunday. “Same with Serge (Ibaka). I’m excited to see the response. With the maturity of Russell and Kevin, the way they are impacting our team on and off the court, I’m confident in our guys.”
The trade that Presti alludes to is the deal between the Celtics and the Thunder at the trade deadline in 2010. From that point until the NBA Finals this past season, Harden stepped his game up to a level that the public hadn’t previously seen.
So, what kind of impact will this deal have on Durant and Westbrook?
Expect both players to take even more ownership of the team from both a vocal standpoint and an on-the-court aggressiveness standpoint, especially until the kinks are worked out as Martin adjusts to his surroundings and vice versa. To this point, the most field goal attempts Durant’s attempted is 20.4 per game in 2009-10. Westbrook took 19.2 shots per game last season, the highest of his career. As the Thunder look to build camaraderie and chemistry while winning games, their star players will likely feel the burden of responsibility, which could translate into a more aggressive mentality.
We could be in for a treat: The three-time defending scoring champ could seize even more responsibility, especially early on in the year.
A few items of note from around the Association:
- As if they didn’t have enough to worry about already with the season approaching, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks must worry about Hurricane Sandy, from Nate Taylor of the New York Times: “I don’t take anything for granted,” Anthony said. “I’m scared of Sandy. Just the thought of New York having a hurricane doesn’t sound right. I’m not playing with this weather.”
- So, Ray Allen will be with the Heat on opening night as they celebrate last years title before their game against Boston, and things aren’t the same between the sharpshooter and his former teammates, Mark Murphy writes in the Boston Herald: ”One price may be a weakened bond with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. On media day Pierce said, ‘I wish he could have gone to the Clippers if he was going anywhere. But he went to our Eastern Conference rivals.’ Garnett said he no longer has Allen’s number. It might be worth watching Garnett’s first pick on Allen. The C’s center has that sinister way of sticking a hip into opponents he doesn’t care about, let alone a teammate who left to play for a hated rival.”
- Michael Beasley is adjusting to…… The green light? No, seriously, Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry wants Beasley to shoot without thinking, reports Brett Pollakoff of NBCSports’ Pro Basketball Talk: “For that to have a chance of happening, however, Beasley will need to embrace an unfamiliar position in Phoenix — one where he’s the primary option offensively most nights, and where he’s actually encouraged, if not berated into taking as many good shots that come his way. This is how the Suns have been doing it since Mike D’Antoni was the head coach, and Alvin Gentry isn’t about to make any changes to a system he’s been running a variation of since he took over, and one that he believes in. He understands, though, that it can be a bit of a change for the players coming in to adopt the shoot first, ask questions later mentality.”
Jeremy Bauman is a 2011 Indiana University alum who is an aspiring scout and shooting coach. After covering last June’s NBA finals for this site, he’ll be blogging for SheridanHoops.com weekday mornings during the 2012-13 basketball season. Follow him on Twitter.