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Know thy enemy: Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder

Last Season: 23-59 (.280, 5th in the Northwest Division, 13th in the Western Conference)

Key Additions: Drafted James Harden, BJ Mullins, traded for Kevin Ollie, Etan ThomasKevin Durant Action Figure
Key Subtractions: Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins.

I'm willing to wager that a healthy portion of NBA teams- lottery and playoff squads alike- would trade their lot in life for what the Thunder have cooking in their big cast iron, high plains basketball kettle. A killer core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, none older than 23, with more potential added in first rounder Harden. Scads of draft picks at their disposal. Cap space stretching to the tips of Oklahoma's vast horizon. A home city forgiving of their growing pains and just happy to have the team- any team, really- in town, meaning there's no rush to try and mess with the rebuilding blueprint and risk screwing things up in the process.

So intense has the love grown among fans and scribes alike for GM Sam Presti that it feels almost dirty, like he should be shrinkwrapped and put in the naughty section of the magazine rack. But it's all well deserved, which is why the man is smiling. You'd smile too if the future of your franchise was this bright.

As for this season, with the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race at least theoretically in question, the Thunder are a popular dark horse pick to slip in should any of last year's entrants leave the top eight. It's not as far-fetched a notion as it might seem at first glance. Yeah, OKC won only 23 games a year ago, but they started 1-16, then 3-29. After that, Durant and Co. were a still-bad-but-far-more-respectable 20-30. Five more wins there and the Thunder are a .500 team. Would that be enough to sneak in?

Sure, it takes a little imagination, but not the sort of hard drugs required to picture, say, the Kings playing deeper into April.

Beyond the Big Three (Durant, Green, Westbrook) and Harden, Presti has afforded coach Scott Brooks some other intriguing pieces. Thabo Sefalosha came to OKC last season in a trade, and provides a solid defensive presence. Nenad Kristic had become a pretty good big man in New Jersey before turning his left ACL into pudding back in '06. Oklahoma City brought him in last year, and hopes he can return to form. Given his age (26), it's not out of the question. Fellow reclamation project Shaun Livingston may never reach the potential he had before suffering what may have been the most destructive knee injury in recent NBA history, but if he's healthy provides key minutes and options for Brooks, allowing Westbrook to concentrate less on operating the offense and more on scoring and defending. Livingston's length can also make a mark defensively.

Nick Collison and the newly acquired Thomas bring leadership. The hope is Thomas provides a little interior toughness as well. Guys like Kyle Weaver and DJ White could in the long run be the type of role guys all good teams need.

Still have the ol' bean thinking big? It's probably safe to stop. Rather than a playoff berth, the Thunder are more likely to continue to build on last year's improvement, adding another 10-15 wins. That's still pretty good. Unfortunately, despite oodles of skill, particularly on the offensive end, OKC likely won't have the defensive chops or the polish to make the top eight, and turning the ball over too much and struggling with shot selection. But the Thunder provide as good a reason as any to buy the NBA package from your cable provider. Durant is flat out awesome, and improved dramatically over his rookie season, particularly after Brooks returned him from shooting guard to a more more natural small forward position. After only his second season, Durant is already one of the league's best pure scorers. Freakin' sick, really. Plus, he has an absolutely spectacular nickname. Green made huge strides last season. Westbrook can be (pardon the cliche) electric.

Over the course of the season, you're guaranteed to see some cool stuff for the money.

They're still likely a year away from postseason play, but the Thunder are no longer an easy win. There will be nights where they look awful, but also games in which the OKC's are capable of beating anyone. And down the road, watch out. 

Prediction: 35 wins, 4th in the Northwest, 11th in the Western Conference.

BK

 
Comments () | Archives (42)

The comments to this entry are closed.

and... Sun Yue gets waived...

total shocker...

131-92,

I don't know, but in difference of you, I don't really care. We can run informal poll here to find out HOW MANY LAKERS FANS CARE WHAT IS GOING ON WITH C's?? I would think vast majority - DON'T CARE....

OK will undergo a 7 year itch after grabbing a team from a stable and fiery Seattle Supersonics. Durant and Westbrook will be traded or retire, still they would not reach the WCF. It took the Celts 20 years to rebuild and maybe another of decades to be back to Championship, well for the OK's, it'll be long(er)shot.I definitely agree, the Celtics are much better than Oklahoma Thunder this year. lol!

thank you LALfan

hes got NO BIZNESS being here. and nobody gives a rats ass about his constant rambling about celtic this and celtic that.... frankly i'm surprised so many bloggers keep giving him time of day. its getting annoying constantly hearing about kg and paula and any other loser leprechaun...

u have got to have some serious issues if you get a kick out of posting in your enemys blog. CELTIC BLOGGERS...PLS VANISH. GET THE QUACK OUT. GO WHERE THE SUN DONT SHINE. SHOOT SCRAM!!


....and... I'll be @ the OKC @ LAL game on 22 Dec.
So. Freaking. Excited.

Does anyone know if we can get a link to today's Lakers game against GSW?

I LOVE me some Kevin Durant.

That boy needs to be in Purple & Gold...

Speaking to the Ear Jordan concerns many have expressed:


I am also concerned about his attitude going into the season. I wasn't - but then I watched the NBA TV training camp program. At one point, Lamar asked him why he didn't pass the ball to a wide-open Sasha.


To me, that speaks volumes about where his head is at.

I don't care what's going on with the Celtics.

We'll do our talking with the Celtics on the court.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

LaL_Fan,

I'm a Lakers fan and I've never been to the Celtics blog because I don't care what's going on with the C's.

I could understand C's fans coming here to gloat last year when the C's won but it's kind of odd that they continue to come to the Lakers blog to extol what they believe are the virtues of their team. At one time I read their comments but now I just skip them cause as a Lakers fan they're useless.

Fan

OKC is in the Northwest? Really?

already got tickets to lakers thunder game

I care! Being a Laker fan does not preclude being an NBA fan. Thanks, guys. Good stuff.

utzworld -

I'm really sorry to hear you're going through a family emergency.

If you're reading this, know that I (and many of us I'm sure) am hoping all works out well for you and yours....

Take care, brother.

DURANTULA!!!

Love it!

LAL_Fan writes :
"Do you see any Laker fans post on your {Celtics} forums? Never!"
======================================

Are you serious? Is this a joke?

At Celticsblog.com {not the lame one at the Boston Globe}, exactly which obnoxious Laker trolls do you want me to call out?

PS LakerFan?
LakersBlueDevil?
Guava_Wrench?
TheRealLargeJames?


LAL_Fan

I don't care about the Celtics. Except for when we play them.


Bummer about Sun Yue, but not surprising. In my opinion he's just not an NBA talent.


3...hours...'til...game...time...oh...my...god...

OKC Thunder will probably do more damage than the Clippers this season. Unless Blake Griffin truly is a wunderkid, I just don't see Baron Davis playing more than 50 games. Or Chris "Quest for Fire and a Rebound" Kaman.


Which is too bad, because I do like the Clippers, just not Mike Dunleavy. I would imagine Mike having a meeting with himself mid-season and giving Mike Dunleavy Coach the boot.


The Thunder could turn some heads, I think, they do have a rabid fan base, play well at home and should improve on that this season. What will be most interesting to watch is how they fare when they take that talent circus on the road. In the words of Tenacious D: "The road is effing tough, the road is effing hard"


Durant just might lead the league in scoring this year and within a season or two will routinely battle with Le Bron James for MVP. If he can get his team over the 50 win hump...Kevin Durant totally deserves that action figure made in his image. Green and Westbrook are good fits with Durant and if they could get a solid veteran or two I think this team is primed to take the league by storm.


I have to agree with BK, though, this season will not be the break out. But if they can just keep improving, lower the young silly mistake quotient, then we can expect the Thunder to make the playoffs for as long as Durant stays healthy.

I second lal_fan's request. Can someone post a link for a live broadcast to the game? Please!!!!!

Edwin

"I definitely agree, the Celtics are much better than Oklahoma Thunder" LOL!!! But do you care about them? I think not...

As I suspected majority of the people don't care about C's and never been on C's Blog. Those names RED mentioned above just a names, for what we know some folks over there just drive C's fans nuts, so RED and 131 here doing it here in spite...

It's actually kind of refreshing to see an NBA team that isn't that good now where it's not depressing. This team definitely has a good future.

Solid rec of getting League Pass just to watch teams like this one.

It's actually kind of refreshing to see an NBA team that isn't that good now where it's not depressing. This team definitely has a good future.

Solid rec of getting League Pass just to watch teams like this one.

Here is a nice youtube clip for the trolls.

http://tinyurl.com/ycrhmhg

LAL_FAN,

Heres a link for the Lakers game tonight..enjoy!!
http://www.atdhe.net/index.html


DKWSFO,


I am trying to decide whether to just listen to the game on Audio League Pass or drive back to work in San Rafael where I have a T-1 connection and could watch the game on Justin TV or a similar source. My home web access is a lame broadband laptop card that is not fast enough to watch streaming video without ridiculous pauses. I was going to sign up for League Pass but they don’t even have tonight’s or Friday night’s game scheduled. Damn Warriors. Don’t even broadcast the games locally here.
-
We could try and trade all three point guards to Golden State for Stephen Jackson. He could be the closest thing to our fantasy Derek/Jordan/Shannon clone. He has size and athleticism, plays great defense, is a pretty good clutch 3-point shooter, and averaged 20/6/6 last year and makes about the same as Farmar, Brown, and Fisher together. LOL. JK, although I have always loved Captain Jack. Realistically, this team is so loaded that we could probably still win it all year after year with Farmar and Brown platooning depending upon matchups.
-
If it were regular season, I would drive to San Rafael but it’s been a long day that started at 7:00a so I will most likely listen to the game on Audio League Pass waiting for Drew to play above the rim and Spero to rave about how Drew is exploding to the rim this season.


- - - - -


Tushar Patel,


Great to have another NorCal Lakers fan. I’ve started a list and added you to it. What do you think about getting together for the Clippers opening night game? Let me know.


- - - - -


Rob,


Great story about Kobe. Nice to know that he really is a good guy who cares about his fans. I always thought he was for real. “Man, what a day” is right.


Tom


RED,


"Are you serious? Is this a joke?

At Celticsblog.com {not the lame one at the Boston Globe}, exactly which obnoxious Laker trolls do you want me to call out?"


Key word being "obnoxious." So you admit they get under your skin, eh? Good to know.

Being from the great state of Texas, the Thunder are a great draw there, and have some really exciting players with millions more to spend. Getting a few free agents to play there is a question, though.. Will be watching tonights Lakers game, as my Yankees will win another World Series, rather easily too. New Stadium and all, it has been commanded!!

while Anna's going to the OKC-LAL game on Dec. 22, i gonna catch the Lake Show in Okie in March. ...would rather be Staples, but hey, you take what you can get.

i like kevin durant. one of the nicest "stars" of the league to meet. and yes, i consider the young cat a "star" already. just a geniunely friendly guy when he doesn't have to be.

btw Fantasy Folks. Looks like we'll have two LakerBlog Fantasy leagues. we're getting some sign ups so if you're interested in joining, act soon.

http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/lakersblog2009
League ID: 203852
password: jerrybuss
10 spots now open

ChicknStu,


That website has both Dodgers and Lakers, and they both play at the same time perfectly. Thanks.


Wes

first preseason game and Kobe is injured
That's a pretty big zit on his forehead I hope its not career ending

Repost:

Hello fellow Laker fans! I've been a long time reader (since the rookie year of the blog) and have posted over the years but only once or twice. With school, work, and all the other goings on of everyday life, I just didn't have time to read AND write. I can manage now and hope to contribute to what has become an extraordinary Laker fan community! AK/BK, you guys run the best blog I've come across, keep up the great work.
Shout out to all the originals that were here from Day 1. Reading everyone's posts over the years, from Jon K., LakerTom, Edwin, CBuck, Xodous, the Lamar Show, lakofan, Andrew Z and SO many more, makes it seem like I've known individuals, to a certain extent, for years. Glad to see so many of you still hang around and provide terrific insight, comedy and perspective to all things Purple & Gold. Special shout out to Mike T. whom I always wanted to respond to but knew if I did, the post would run rather long, think novel size, so I never did (damn you education!). MAMBA24, may I please have the honor of being added to the Roll Call? Your enthusiasm is one of a kind, seriously; I can remember some bad days I may have had and seeing some of your eccentric (in a very good way) posts brightened up my day. Kudos, my friend, keep em' coming.

LakerTom -
I live in San Francisco and would love a get together of Bay Area Laker fans. Let's make it happen.

Where's the game chat???????????????????

Kobe with a 16 left handed hook shot!


Ron boxing out on free throws and getting good position.


Gasol will probably play about 15 minutes tonight.

anyone have a link to the game?

A whole darn post on the former Seattle Supersonics and not one mention of the whole 'they marched into Seattle and lied their way into team ownership, then lied their way through the new stadium 'negotiations' and then went to OKC with all the dignity of a track marked prostitute for the promise of a little bit of free rent in an arena.

not that i'm bitter. I'm only a little bit embarrassed that i'm not doing a better job of being bitter about it. But i'm sure there might be a person or two who still remembers the Sonics, if not around here. You know, that guys that fought to keep the name and team history if not the team.

Ask them what they think.


ah, phooey. there I went on rant again. I gotta say, just one more reason i'm glad I'm a Laker fan.

channelsurfing.net


Sasha looks great! Farmar actually passed to him when he was wide open.

Kobe's hitting the kind of shots that make opposing coaches roll their eyes.

Adam Morrison needs to work on his defence, defence, defence.

Farmar looks good. Playing smart and fast.

Josh Powell...3 fouls in three minutes.


GAMETIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thanks, Warriors, you are the lamest franchise in the NBA. Don’t even have local radio much less TV coverage of your team’s game tonight. What an embarrassment. And NBA Audio League Pass did not have the game on either. Because my home net connection is so slow, I ended up driving to work to watch the game on Justin TV on my computer. Got there in time to see Drew make a free throw. Looks like he got off to a good start. Game seems pretty sloppy. Sort of like pre-season.


Tom


*yawm*

another bottom dweller ... shout out to russell westbrook though ... i respect ya game

LAL_Fan writes :
"Do you see any Laker fans post on your {Celtics} forums? Never!"
======================================

Are you serious? Is this a joke?

At Celticsblog.com {not the lame one at the Boston Globe}, exactly which obnoxious Laker trolls do you want me to call out?

PS LakerFan?
LakersBlueDevil?
Guava_Wrench?
TheRealLargeJames?


Posted by: RED`S LOVE CHILD | October 07, 2009 at 03:48 PM

=======================
Except for PS Lakerfan, we never heard of the rest. So not from our blog so you can leave in peace.

I didn't realize how good Kevin Durant was until I saw him at the All Star game. You know Portland's hating themselves right now.


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