Some might point out that the Thunder have played 54 of their scheduled 82 regular season games, meaning that the season is far more than half over. That’s math, and as Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush taught us, math is a member of the axis of evil.
As the players, coaches, league executives and those who cover their shenanigans descend on Los Angeles to attend basketball exhibitions involving the best performers in the league, most consider this to be middle of the season. So, considering that, it is time to hand out some midseason awards for the Thunder:
Least Valuable Player: Morris Peterson
Prior to Nick Collison signing a contract extension that gave him a huge bonus, Peterson was actually the highest paid player on the team. For $6.6 million, he has provided four points. That is not his scoring average; that is how many points he has put on the board in the four times that Coach Scott Brooks has inserted him in the game. Of course, the Thunder absorbed his large contract so they could move up in the draft to take …
Most Disappointing Player: Cole Aldrich
Needing a stronger defensive presence in the post area, Sam Presti packaged two draft picks and agreed to pay Peterson for nothing so they could draft a player expected to be NBA ready. Aldrich has not proven that to be the case, spending most of his time in the NBA Development League, and Thunder fans still pine for a traditional big man.
Best Surprise: Serge Ibaka
Ibaka was the most pleasant surprise for the team last season, as well. As an unknown project with a weird name, his occasional brilliance stunned fans. Then, even after a great performance in the playoffs last year, few could have predicted that he would begin this season as the team’s most productive post player and developed the basketball IQ to play during crunch time. He has.
MVP: Russell Westbrook
Typically, it is safe to just stamp the name “Kevin Durant” on any award presented (even figuratively) to the team’s best player. Statistically, he probably still fits the bill. The most important player to Oklahoma City’s team in the early part of the season, however, was Westbrook.
During four games in which Durant missed due to injury — all on the road — Westbrook carried the Thunder on his back like Atlas putting the world on his shoulders. That included a back-to-back in which OKC toppled the defending Eastern Conference champs and a playoff-poised Milwaukee team. He also led the team to victory in a triple overtime game in New Jersey. Even while putting those aside, his impressive average of points, assists and rebounds signifies that he has blossomed into a superstar in his third season.
Matthews is an editor of the local news and entertainment blog TheLostOgle.com.