Hollinger forecasts Thunder

ESPN.com’s stat wizard, John Hollinger has his Western Conference preview up and within, he forecasts the Thunder’s immediate future. His breakdown of the team is amazing and he’s spot on with what needs to improve most – outside shooting. I’ve got a little something coming up in the next few days that highlights this stat, but in wins, OKC shot almost 12 percent higher from downtown than in losses last year.

They made on average two more three’s per win than in losses. That’s pretty telling, especially considering they lost 14 games last season by six points or less. Could’ve really used those two more threes (3+3+=6). That would have made the team 34-48 instead of 20-62.

Hollinger: “It’s hard to see it now, but the Thunder (thwack) have as bright a future as any team in the league. Unencumbered by bad contracts and laden with draft choices, they are going to improve with remarkable speed from here on out. But in 2007-08, they are going to take more lumps. In order to set up their future, they’re operating as a glorified expansion team; fortunately for them, the folks in Oklahoma are likely to fill the arena every night anyway to welcome the state’s first major league pro sports team … That may give the Okies enough of a home-court advantage to steal a few extra wins, especially since this team is going to play hard. They did last season even while getting their brains beat in, and with all the hustling defensive types they’ve acquired in the past two drafts, they should only redouble their efforts. But enthusiasm can carry them only so far given the absence of talent. Durant may bust out with a big season, and the other youngsters will have their moments here and there. But by any name, this team might not win more games than last season.”

He has the team going 20-62 all over again, finishing last in the Northwest Division and last in the Western Conference.

But he does acknowledge the Oklahoma City Bump. So yeah, we’ve got that going for us.