Power Rankings for the Week of November 7th

Since Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Warriors was announced, the commentary regarding it has ranged from wildly inaccurate to utterly nauseating. It’s not a shock that complex decisions get distilled down to narratives, but the two prevailing narratives that came out of this are worthy of a breakdown; namely – Kevin Durant’s cowardice and Russell Westbrook’s loyalty.

Kevin Durant

“Why didn’t he play like this in the playoffs” is reportedly what Enes Kanter said to Kevin Durant during Durant’s first game against his previous team on Thursday. It’s also a sentiment that was echoed on Twitter and other platforms during the Warriors blowout where Durant looked like the best player on the planet.

But that’s missing the point. We tend to romanticize eras after they’re finished and forget what drove us crazy during the era itself. This is often how we look back at presidencies for the same reason – we tend to have an extremely negative and cynical view of the present, but the past represents a time where things were better.

The fact is that until the Conference Finals in 2016 Oklahoma City never maximized the talents of both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder’s best solution to find a 3 and D wing was overpaying for Dion Waiters. Russell Westbrook’s ball dominance and lack of efficiency from 3 point range is mitigated by his overall brilliance and elite athleticism but is not even close to being an ideal teammate next to Durant. The Thunder never had a truly modern offensive scheme and coach Scotty Brooks was kept on too long after it was clear nothing was going to change – Billy Donovan was definitely a good hire but a little late.

OKC ownership was notoriously cheap, it became a running joke that the Thunder hadn’t amnestied Kendrick Perkins – a roster spot and salary cap space that could’ve been used to acquire or sign a capable 3 and D player. Trading James Harden was unnecessary at the time when the deal happened and was a panicked decision that was mostly made due to financial constraints.

So let’s stop with this notion that the Thunder are victims here. Kevin Durant gave 9 years of his service to the franchise, many of which were in the prime of his career. He propelled the sport forward in the region, putting Oklahoma City on the map.

Now as to where Kevin Durant chose to go. There’s a basketball angle, and a life angle. Durant is not naive enough to have thought that he wouldn’t be seen as “taking the easy way” by joining a juggernaut like the 73-win Warriors team that had just defeated him in the playoffs. To take that into account in your decision, however, is silly. How many people are turning down Google offers because they’d rather work at DuckDuckGo? Kevin Durant saw in the Warriors what we’ve been seeing for years – they are a group of professionals with a great coaching staff, great management, and a good ownership (#LightYears). They play an elite style of offense suited to the way Durant wants to play, they get along very well and oh yeah – San Francisco is an awesome place to live!

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook upon signing an extension with the Thunder was heralded as a loyal guy, the anti-Kevin Durant, the true competitor. “Russell Westbrook would never desert this city and franchise like Durant did” was the message. Weirdly enough, none of this happened.

The facts:

-Russell Westbrook got a raise for this upcoming season that he was not expecting, this became possible as Kevin Durant went off the books

-Russell Westbrook has only given the OKC Thunder an extra season. Why is that season so significant? After Westbrook reaches his 10th season of service, he is eligible for a higher % of the cap, this is partially the same reason why Durant signed a 1+1 deal this summer with the Warriors. Now, the new CBA may change all that, but this is the reality at he time the extension signed.

Russell Westbrook made the wisest decision for him financially, nothing beyond that. Even if he hated everything about the team, as a cold blooded capitalist that I am, I would’ve advised him to take it.

This next summer is when Russell Westbrook’s true test of loyalty will come. If he extends long term at that point, that’s when we can commend him for his loyalty. And if that extension doesn’t happen? Sam Presti will trade him. OKC will be as cold blooded managing their assets as they should be, Russell Westbrook will manage his career and finances as he should – let’s just spare the narrative, shall we?


Power Rankings

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (6-0) [LW: 1]
  2. LA Clippers (5-1) [LW:4]
  3. San Antonio Spurs (5-2) [LW: 3]
  4. Golden State Warriors (4-2) [LW: 2]
  5. Toronto Raptors (4-2) [LW:5]
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (4-3) [LW:6]
  7. OKC Thunder (5-1) [LW: 12]
  8. Utah Jazz (4-3) [LW: 9]
  9. Atlanta Hawks (4-2) [LW: 15]
  10. Indiana Pacers (3-3) [LW: 8]
  11. Detroit Pistons (4-2) [LW: 13]
  12. Charlotte Hornets (4-1) [LW: 14]
  13. Boston Celtics (3-3) [LW: 7]
  14. Chicago Bulls (3-3) [LW: 16]
  15. Houston Rockets (3-3) [LW: 10]
  16. Denver Nuggets (3-3) [LW: 19]
  17. Memphis Grizzlies (3-4) [LW: 11]
  18. Sacramento Kings (3-5) [LW: 22]
  19. Miami Heat (2-3) [LW: 20]
  20. Milwaukee Bucks (4-3) [LW: 25]
  21. Los Angeles Lakers (4-3) [LW: 26]
  22. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-4) [LW: 17]
  23. Orlando Magic (3-3) [LW: 29]
  24. New York Knicks (2-4) [LW: 21]
  25. Washington Wizards (1-4) [LW: 18]
  26. Phoenix Suns (2-5) [LW: 28]
  27. Dallas Mavericks (1-5) [LW: 23]
  28. Brooklyn Nets (2-4) [LW: 30]
  29. New Orleans Pelicans (0-6) [LW: 24]
  30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-5) [LW: 27]

Brief Thoughts on the New MacBook Pro from a Casual Mac User

As a tech enthusiast, but not a professional in the industry, I tend to have a very different perspective than the various podcasters, YouTubers, journalists that have made the tech community such a vibrant community.  The latest update to the MacBook Pro has received intense scrutiny from truly Pro users that is a combination of entirely valid and slightly over-dramatic that has become a custom with any kind of change Apple has made (see: removal of the headphone jack in the iPhone). 

My experience is different from people that professionally work on these machines, but I find myself questioning whether the Mac is for me for different reasons.  Note, I did not say anything like “Why I think Apple is wrong” because this is a very personal perspective.  

My MacBook Pro is from 2012, upgraded from the original spinning hard drive to SSD, and without a Retina display.  I was due for a change, and like many I was excited about the October event in which the laptop of my choice received a much needed refresh.  Here’s how I currently use my laptop: I use Chrome, Microsoft Office, use it to record the occasional podcast, iMessage, Slack, Notes and that’s about it.  It’s my work computer and my personal computer.  At work, I have it docked into a monitor, it’s propped up on a stand and I plug in my Apple Wired keyboard (need my number pad!) and use it with a Logitech mouse.  Occasionally at work, I am unplugging it and walking around with it to different desks and meetings around the area.  I’m charging my phone usually once around midday with it and I’m putting an SD card or a USB stick in it once every few weeks. At home, it’s primarily a writing tool and once a week I plug in a USB microphone and record a podcast about basketball. I use programs such as uBar and BetterSnapTool because I came from Windows and I miss those features of Windows, and I love that the Mac is customizable in that way.  Over the course of these 4 years with a Mac, I have a simple feeling towards my entire workflow and everything this machine accomplishes: “It just works”.  It always has, and I love it.

Now, 2016. The MacBook refresh.  Here’s what I would have to do to make my computer “just work”. I would need a USB C hub at my desk to plug everything in that I currently do – plugging in my monitor, which I already use an adapter for; my mouse, my Apple keyboard.  I would need a USB C adapter to plug in my iPhone on the go, I would need an SD card reader in my bag, I would need a USB C converter to use my mouse at home for the Logitech dongle or plugging in my USB microphone.  These are just things that I’ve thought of off the top of my head.

The truth is, I love my Mac but I’m not a Mac loyalist, this was my first MacBook and I enjoy it greatly – but I’m perfectly OK with using Windows as well.  I will miss the syncing of my Notes and Contacts, I will miss using iMessage, but I will be OK. Everything I need to make the new MacBook work for me requires both extra money and more importantly, extra brain cells. “Did I pack the adapter? Do I need to keep a hub at home and at my office? Should I buy two of these, one for my bag and one for my office? Do I need a new laptop bag? What would I need for my travel? Should I just buy a new mouse?”  

The Dell XPS 13/15 series carries the Apple aesthetic and would require little to no change in my current workflow to adopt, and at a cheaper price.I never imagined that I’d be moving on from Mac, especially as my love for iOS grows – the iPad Pro with Pencil has been one of the more enjoyable tech purchases I’ve ever made, and the iPhone is the most important device to me and it’s not even close.

The Mac may not be for me any more, and I think I’ll be OK, and I’m sure Apple will as well.