What’s the key to the Thunder’s sudden resurgence?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The Thunder will make their first playoff appearance in its young existence. Oklahoma City is currently the sixth seed in the west but are locked in a three-way battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Well, it doesn’t really matter what seed they will end up in because the Thunder are young, athletic and skilled, which makes them a very dangerous first-round opponent.

Obviously, their success can be attributed by the sudden explosion of Kevin Durant. Durant went from rising star last season to an MVP candidate. He will likely win his first scoring title this season. Forward Jeff Green is averaging 15 points a ball game and Russell Westbrook is having a career year. These three young guns are a big reason why the Thunder find themselves in the playoffs.

It’s their offense that gets a lot of recognition, but its actually the Thunder’s defense which makes them dangerous. The Thunder allows only 97.6 points a game, which is good enough for 11th in the league. There’s not one individual on Oklahoma City that is a great defender. But as a team the Thunder are a cohesive, effective defensive unit.

Against the highest scoring team in the league, the Phoenix Suns, the Thunder held them to their lowest scoring output in the second half – the Suns scored only 34 points. The young Oklahoma City Thunder also held the Suns under 100 points. Two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-star Amar’e Stoudemire were forced into committing five combined turnovers.

All you need to know about what the Thunder defense did to the Suns offense is this: the Suns shot 58 percent in first and second quarters. After that, Phoenix shot only 31 percent. Durant and Green had seven steals – amazing considering they are both forwards.

This years Thunder reminds us much of last seasons Portland Trail Blazers. Exciting crowd, budding superstar in Durant (in the Blazers case Brandon Roy), and a core group of young talented guys. All of this resulted in first-round fodder.

Durant, in particular, had no turnovers on his way to scoring 35 points. It’s been a joy to watch Durant this season. There are already talks that is he the second best player in the league – yes, in front of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. This statement might be a reach considering Durant has played at this level for only one season. Plus, greatness can’t be measured during the season, it is seen where it counts – in the playoffs.

Durant and the Thunder will get the opportunity to prove exactly that as they make their first playoff appearance in history.

The Allen Iverson saga continues

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

There is no doubting that 11-time All-Star Allan Iverson is amongst the best players ever to play this game. Standing at just 6 feet tall, if that, the former Georgetown great lit up the scoreboard on a nightly basis in his rookie year and became the undisputed leader of the Philadelphia 76ers faster than anyone had anticipated.

Not only did Iverson quickly turn into one of the best scorers in the league, but he was able to eventually turn around the Philadelphia 76ers franchise into a title contender and took the struggling team all the way to the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.

Unfortunately, Iverson and company weren’t able to beat one of deadliest combos of all time in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as the only to one games in the NBA finals series in Kobe and Shaq went on to win their second straight NBA title.

Reaching the NBA finals and winning the NBA MVP was the peak of Allen Iverson’s career as he never was able to accomplish the same feat again and the Philadelphia 76ers as a result quickly slipped into mediocrity once again. Iverson also had his four-time scoring champion, but after the trade would in which sent him to the Denver Nuggets to play alongside up-and-coming superstar Carmelo Anthony, Iverson went from being the go to guy to somewhat of a complementary player with a unique scoring ability.

The Denver Nuggets were a very good team with Iverson in the lineup and playing alongside Carmelo Anthony, but they were far from a great team suffered many first-round exits in the playoffs and never became the team that people thought they would be with all the offensive firepower on their roster.

Ultimately, as a result of the Nuggets up enough to get it done with the future Hall of fame guard and Allan Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Denver had to make a decision on which player to keep in which player to send packing in order to revamp the team and get to the next level in order to compete in the playoffs.

Obviously the Denver Nuggets did not want to get rid of Carmelo Anthony as he is still a very young player with a lot of potential and upside. With that being said it was a no-brainer that they had to get rid of Allen Iverson and seek a trade that would improve their basketball team.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, they were able to convince the Detroit Pistons to send Chauncey Billups to Denver in exchange for Allen Iverson. This trade completely turned around the Nuggets franchise as they reach the Western Conference finals the very same year, but the same could not be said for Iverson’s career as it has never recovered.

Ever since the trade, Iverson has bounced from team to team (Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers) and looks like he will ultimately retire from the game of basketball.

Recently Iverson signed with his former team in the Philadelphia 76ers look to rejuvenate his career there where he has been extremely loyal fan following, but due to the illness of his four-year-old daughter, which is undisclosed, Iverson had cut his season short and might not return to the 76ers next season.

Once it was reported that Iverson would not finish out the year with Philly everything started to go downhill as his wife filed for divorce and now speculation about drinking and gambling problem for certain circulate around the league.

It is uncertain whether or not Allen Iverson will play another minute in the NBA, but as of right now is not looking very good as he is dealing with all sorts of problems off the court.