Just a totally, completely, entirely awesome piece by Ric Bucher (you need to be an Insider to read it online). I’ve already read it twice. Seriously.
The Thunder started the season 3-29, but they think they have the league right where they want it. Next year, the playoffs! (Laugh now, but consider yourself warned).
Bucher lays out seven things that OKC needs to accomplish or get lucky with to possibly make a run at the playoffs next season including “the lottery falls just right,” “Durant bulks up,” “the coach lays it out,” the team stays tough,” “the team settles in,” and “what’s already there gets better.” Potentially, according to Bucher if all those things come to fruition, he could see OKC adding 25 wins next season. Twenty-five! A little mathematics tells me the team’s record would look something like 46-36 then. Woo!
I liked this part:
As blue, yellow and orange confetti flutters from the rafters, and another rousing rendition of Oklahoma! blares over the PA, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook bounce up and down, arm in arm, the heart of a young team hug at center court of the Ford Center. Just a year removed from being vilified for deserting their sacred Seattle birthplace and getting off to a 3-29 start in their new town – one of the worst out-of-the-blocks stumbles in NBA history – the Oklahoma City Thunder are playoff bound. “We’ve dreamed of this day,” says owner Clay Bennett as he accepts handshakes and bear hugs, a scarp of confetti stuck in his brush cut. “We just didn’t dream of it coming so soon.” Hey, it could happen.
Ric Bucher may be more optimistic than me. But I love it. I got chills reading that. Just thinking about what could be… oooohh boy.
Bucher’s got OKC taking Hasheem Thabeet, which I’m not all that crazy about, but in his feature it’s got the Thunder getting better, which I’m all for.
They also have a contrarian viewpoint from Shoals (going as his real name, Nathaniel Friedman) on the matter.
But while all of this makes them a prime candidate for the NBA’s new cult favorites—the heir to the Brand/Odom/Miles Clippers, the Suns before anyone realized they were good, or the2006-07 Warriors—there’s no reason to assume they’ll improve enough to make the playoffs next season. That’s because, for all their spunk and character, the Thunder remain largely a work in progress.
And also, on the front page of ESPN.com’s NBA section, Bucher had lunch with Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant and let me tell you, I laughed pretty much throughtout the whole thing. I can’t say how proud and excited I am that these three guys are the cornerstones and faces of this franchise.