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With James Harden stating that he wants a max deal when his rookie contract concludes, the Oklahoma City Thunder face a critical decision to move on from their reigning sixth man of the year or find a replacement. Could Eric Maynor be that guy?
Its still by far, one of the greatest college basketball moments I've ever seen in my life. Five years ago, Eric Maynor and the VCU Commodores held serve in the NCAA tournament versus the *Duke Blue Devils and delivered a knockout blow of the ages. Maynor went from unknown talent to being the hero of every person in the world who hated Duke. Maynor delivered the dagger, and the legacy was forever cemented for the guard from Raeford, North Carolina.
Eric Maynor was clutch, totally unafraid and wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line.
Through the wizardry of Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, Maynor was eventually
hijacked traded from the Utah Jazz to the Thunder, and for the last three seasons Maynor has been a building block in the young core of the Thunder. instead of being a scorer like in his college days, Maynor was now being asked to facilitate more. Get the ball to James Harden, facilitate in a natural way that isn't quite so natural for Russell Westbrook. Anytime you play with Kevin Durant, get him the damn ball. Oh, and play defense too. This was the role of Maynor, and it was a job he did quite well.
On January 7, 2012, the Thunder reported that Maynor tore his right ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.
When Eric Maynor returns from his rehab, the Thunder organization are going to have to make a decision as to what type of player do they want him to be. If he can return back in form, even, is a question. Should he return to being the heady point guard, one that's instinctual and savvy with the ball, one that seems to always make his team better? Or, does Maynor return and become the guard that we all remembered back in college. Putting Duke out of their misery, lifting a school with no basketball history up to a program with long-term potential and a fond memory of their hero. That hero was a scorer, that hero was fearless, that hero is remembered by all who witnessed college baseball in those times.
James Harden is one of the top players in the world, and his output will be impossible to replicate by any means that would be available to the Thunder. Scoring at a premium, passing when needed and making heady plays when the time arises. Its what my Harden and all-star and an Olympian, and his talents should never be questioned. If Harden did ultimately walk, then giving Maynor a chance to lead that second unit and get his shot is more viable of an option for head coach Scott Brooks and the rest of the unit.
Again, this is all contingent on Maynor returning to full strength after an ACL injury that has derailed many a great career. If Maynor can't return to the form athletically he was in January then this entire argument is null and void, but if he can, then the sky is the limit for a 25-year old guard who shocked the world in front of us years ago.
Now's the chance to see if you can do it one more time. This time, at the pro level with the league's youngest team and in the need of their elderly young stud to put the dagger in other teams like VCU did to Duke.
*If you cant tell, I'm not much of a Duke fan. Not one bit.