The best way to gauge team progress is to take a number and compare it to what the team had at the same time last year. Pretty straightforward and simple. And what better to use as a measure than wins and losses?
Last season, the Thunder (then the Sonics of course) didn’t win their 20th game until the final day of the season. The team was 16-54 on March 24th. Now, OKC has win No. 20 with 12 games to go. Barring a dozen-game skid (fingers crossed), we should see 21 wins. That’s progress any way you want to slice it.
When this season started, most everyone gave Oklahoma City one simple goal to shoot for: Do better than last year. Improve. Get better. Grow and give hope. And I think 20 wins in *just* 70 games is an improvement over 20 wins in 82 last year.
(One thing you’ve got to remember is that last year’s 20-win team was entirely different. Only five players remain on the roster that finished the year with the team last season. The reigns hadn’t been entirely handed to Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook wasn’t even part of the equation. It was really more of a veteran led team with guys like a Luke Ridnour, Earl Watson, Kurt Thomas, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West shouldering most the load at different times. Durant only started to take on the “star” role about halfway through the season and Green only started 52 games and averaged 28 minutes a game. Last year’s team most certainly wasn’t the “core” that Sam Presti wanted to move forward with. So this season was almost an entirely separate rebuilding year in itself as now we’re starting to see a roster take shape.)
There’s no denying the change from 2008 to 2009. OKC is 16-21 this year, compared to 4-29 in 2008. Last season, the team was 9-22 in 2007 and 11-40 in 2008. Other words: No striking improvement throughout the year. In fact, they got worse. This season the team has taken a major step ahead with its progress in 2009. Thabo Sefolosha was added to the roster and has made an immediate impact. Kevin Durant has begun to emerge as a bonafide megastar. Jeff Green has gone from possible liability to excellent sidekick. Russell Westbrook has progressed as a point guard and has gone from question mark to the potential Rookie of the Year. Keep Reading…