Season Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

The history of the Oklahoma City Thunder as the Thunder is brief. They’ve played one season going 23-59 and have high hopes for 2009-2010. The Seattle Sonics however have a much more storied past playing in three NBA Finals in 1978, 1979, and 1996, winning in 1979 with Dennis Johnson as the Finals MVP. They also gave the world the honor and glory of being able to witness Shawn Kemp play on the national stage while also giving him the opportunity to impregnate numerous women throughout the continental United States also helping to solidfy the stereotype of NBA players as infideious ladies’ men. This and other details will be discussed more in my spring semester course, Cultural Perceptions and the NBA: 1980-Present. Sign up soon, spots are running out.

Russell Westbrook was such a pleasant surprise for the Thunder last year as he managed to quietly average 15 points and 5 assists a game as a rookie. If he can increase his shooting percentage by having better shot selection and become a more alert floor general creating opportunities for Green and Durant, Westbrook could be a star point guard by the end of the season.

Big things are expected of James Harden. As Durant, Green, and Westbrook did exceptional as rookies, all three earning spots on the first team All-Rookie team, Harden is expected to do the same. The Thunder have done a great job of drafting players the past few years and Harden appears promising to say the least. Harden played quite well throughout the summer league showing signs that he will be able to compliment Westbrook well in order to create a dominant and very young backcourt.

Kevin Durant, the Durantula, the star of the show. Last year, his shot selection improved and so did his statistics in every major category. It would be foolish to expect as much improvement this year as he had last year, you have to remember that he is still very, very young and a few years away from his prime. In fact, he only turned 21 yesterday. Certainly a great player for any team to have and one the Thunder will rely on throughout the year.

In the past two seasons, Jeff Green has been overshadowed by Kevin Durant as the young star player although he certainly does not deserve to be overlooked by
fans or coaches alike. Although he missed over twenty games last year, all signs point to him being ready for the season and much like Durant and Westbrook, hope for improvement fills the dusty Oklahoma air.

As much as I love the other four starters on the Thunder, it’s slightly harder to get behind Nenad Krstic. He showed definite promise as a Net in 2006 before injuring his knee and he simply hasn’t been the same since. He never was a dominant rebounder, but he could score fairly reliably. If he can regain his confidence on the court and once again get in the rhythm of playing in the NBA, he can be an asset to this young Thunder team who even at the age of 26 will easily be the oldest starter the time.
Key Gains:

Despite acquiring both Etan Thomas and Kevin Ollie, it’s hard to imagine either one having a prominent role this season. Hopefully, they can proper this team to victories that were lacking last year.
Key Losses:

This team is still pretty much the same as last year losing only three players, Chucky Atkins being the most prominent, which really isn’t saying much at all.
Key Quote:

@russwest44 i try to pretend Im somewhere else….like Cabo

from Nick Collison’s Twitter on September 30, 2009

Recap:

  1. Sacramento Kings
  2. Washington Wizards
  3. Los Angeles Clippers
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves
  7. Golden State Warriors
  8. New York Knicks
  9. Toronto Raptors
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