As usual, Ziller beat me to it, in officially blogging a sigh of relief that Kevin Durant has been moved to Small Forward. Gee, ya think? This was something I pined for back in the beginning of the season and something you would think wouldn't take this long to figure out. Gee, PJ, do you think one of the best freshman forwards in college history should be forced to play two-guard? Hell no.
The bottom line is that the Thunder already look and feel better under Scotty Brooks, who I must namedrop, as one of the few NBA guys I actually made friends with during my few years working for the Timberwolves. When I was 11 years old and working my first game, Brooks hit me with a $20 bill and actually chatted with me -- I felt a connection with him ever since that point. He was one of the true nice guys in the league, and also was a tough little bastard -- someone that Barkley would go to war for in their Sixers days and someone who played some key stretches during the Rockets' mid-90s title runs. Brooks has been city-hopping for a while, and may in fact be the next great coach. He provides the toughness of Scott Skiles, but also knows when to loosen his grip. Quoth Durant (again via Ziller):
"Not taking anything away from P.J., he wanted the best out of us," said Durant. "But Scott did a great job of giving us a little bit of room for error. Once we messed up he just told us what we needed to do better and told us that play was over. I think that kind of made us feel a little better. We just got to continue to build on it."
I can't think of a better situation for Brooks as a first-time coach, and for these Thunder players. Plus, when Brooks took over, they actually played like they were going to win a game, and because I fell asleep for the last two minutes of the Thunder/Suns game last night, I'm going to pretend they did. I could see an extreme sense of levity and comfort amongst these guys. And at very least I have seen in Westbrook and Durant, a potential small-big power-duo that by midseason will be competitive with D-Williams/Boozer, Nash/Amare, and Chris Paul/David West as far as these duos go. Not to mention next year, when Westbrook establishes himself as the official Deron Williams to Derrick Rose's CP3. Westbrook just has insane Dwyane-Wade-like upside and is fast becoming my favorite player in the league.
Now if the Thunder could only dump their supporting cast for better three-point shooters, we would have a serious team on our hands. Westbrook can get in the lane with the best of them, and Durant is JUST STARTING HIS CAREER NOW. In an email to Shoals and the Recluse last night, I officially proclaimed him "freed." Screw Glenn Robinson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. This is the bizarro-KG-Dirk-assassin that we all were watching at Texas. It will take a year still for that player to emerge, but I could finally see the remnants last night, beginning to be reassembled.