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Peace, Love and Thunderstanding: Garbage Time

Oklahoma City Thunder forward D.J. White, left, takes a shot as Indiana Pacers forward Josh McRoberts defends in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 5, 2009. White scored 14 points for Oklahoma City in his NBA debut, but Indiana won 117-99. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

With only five games remaining in the season, the Thunder have hit a new stage.  Not the wins and losses have mattered much since the 1-13 start basically ended any hope of the team competing for the playoffs, but after a long and trying year, these last weeks will feature the starters thinking ahead to their Spring/Summer vacation while trying not to get hurt.  As a result, Coach Scott Brooks is being asked to use the last few games to give the guys at the end of the bench an opportunity to see the floor.

The results have been mixed.  During these open tryouts, some guys have shown promise that Thunder fans will talk about during the off season.  Others have exposed themselves as guys who might be seeking employment elsewhere next year.  Who's done what?

Pacers Thunder Basketball

D.J. White
Auditioning for:  Lead in The Elephant Man re-make

I apologize now because that joke is wrong on so many levels, and on Easter, I'm going to ask for forgiveness.  In the meantime, I'm going to pretend I was not poking fun at the gigantism that multiple surgeries has subjected White's jaw.  Instead, I'm going to say that White must have been shouting, "I'm not an animal, I'm a human being!" during the yo-yo'ing that Presti subjected him.

Since being cleared for contact, White has been sent down to the Tulsa 66ers and re-called to the Thunder three times.  For some reason, when he was re-called, Presti just wanted him to practice and would send him back to Tulsa on game days.  Luckily for White, the Thunder ran out of options to send him to the D-League and he'll spend the rest of the season with the big club.  He finally made his NBA debut on Sunday against Indiana and has been very impressive.  Averaging 16.5 minutes in two games, White has also averaged 10 points and done so on 77% shooting from the floor.  If he starts to rebound (which might be suffering for fear of hurting his re-structured jaw bone), the Thunder could have picked up another steal when they acquired him from Detroit during the draft.

Shaun Livingston
Auditioning for:  Spot on the team for next season

I said my peace about the potential of Livingston, and then some, in last week's article.  Now that he has actually played, I feel even more confident in his potential.  During his debut against Portland, he was the only bright spot.  He showed a better shooting touch than I expected to see, and he made passes that his teammates, accustomed to being ignored by the guys how have run point for the team all season, were not ready to receive.  Once they get used to the idea of being rewarded for moving without the ball, Livingston will rack up great assist numbers.


Jonathan Meisner
Auditioning for:  Douche bag of the Year

In the past, I have teased Meisner for his long sleeve t-shirt look, but that was before I knew the alternative was to ratchet up the D-bag look.  For the past month or so, he has taken to wearing a suit vest over a dress shirt over his European fitting jeans and below his backwards ball cap.

Kyle Weaver
Auditioning for:  Back-up point guard

Weaver was shipped to Tulsa for one game, and apparently they taught him how to dribble in that one day.  How else can you explain the fact that he logged some minutes running the offense against San Antonio and never once threw the ball off of his own foot.  The did not, however, teach him to pass.  During his run at point guard, he jacked up ill advised shots on three straight possessions.

Oh, and his shooting seems to have worsened.  In the two games since being re-called, he is 3-14 from the floor.

Robert Swift
Auditioning for: Starting role for Dynamo Moscow

The days are numbered for the Frans Steynof the Oklahoma City Thunder.  After four seasons of clogging up the Thunder's inactive list and pocketing about $12MM, the inexplicable fan favorite will take his height, fragile body, and black painted finger nails overseas.  There he'll be worshipped as a former NBA player while the announcers talk about how he spent his time on the bench becoming a student of the game in Russian. 

Nick Collison
Auditioning for:  Starting Shooting Guard

The worst part of this stage of the season is that guys who already get their share of minutes start screwing around like George W. Bush in the last month of his Presidency.  Nick Collison has been the worst.  During last Friday's game against Portland, I'm pretty sure Collison was 0-18 on shots from 20 feet or deeper.  Apparently, he feels that the only reason he hasn't filled the role of the outside shooter I've been complaining about all season is that he hasn't taken enough deep shots in games.

This situation could have been averted.  First, Sam Presti could have stopped playing yo-yo with D.J. White and kept him with the big squad (this has since been remedied), cutting into Collison's minutes.  The rest of the problem was that Collison took advantage of Shaun Livingston being new to the team.  Livingston passed him the ball assuming that Collison would swing it to someone who actually had any business touching the ball.  The new point guard learned a valuable lesson.

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