Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Forecasting the Thunder - well, that depends on how you want to look at it

At this point, if you're a Thunder fan you can look at the current state of affairs two ways - glass half full or glass half empty with a hole in the bottom and leaking fast.

If you're an optimist (like me):
A. This is a young team. The average age is 24.7 years old and the average age of the starting five is 22.4. It's centered around three young players where the oldest is 22. Give that nucleus time to develop and you've got a strong team.

B. Oklahoma City has multiple expiring contracts. So while this current team is a miserable 2-24, it isn't likely this same group will be back next year. And this offseason, there will be some major cap room to play with. After the season, the Thunder will only have about $20 million in committed salary.

C. Just because someone is bad one year doesn't mean they will be bad again next year. Look at the Heat from a year ago. They had 15 wins (15!) and now with a healthy team and Dwayne Wade back they already have 12. The Hornets had a measly 18 in 2004 before drafting Chris Paul and then won 36 and last year had the second best record in the West. The 1992-93 Mavericks, who challenged for the worst record ever, didn't stay that bad forever. They went 11-71 that year, then 13-69 and then 36-46. Now look at them. Sports work in cycles. While some are up and some are down. Then they swap.

D. Basketball is the easiest sport to turn around. It can literally take one player to fix a team. The 1996-97 Spurs are the example with Tim Duncan. Before taking Duncan No. 1, San Antonio went 20-62, but then after taking Duncan, the Spurs went 56-26. Whether it's Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio or a good free agent, this can be flipped around really quickly.

E. Nobody thought this team was going to contend this year. Sam Presti (supposedly) has a plan and he's trying to build a contender from scratch. Maybe OKC is trying to follow the Spurs' model a little too closely. As mentioned, the 1996-97 Spurs went 20-62 with two different coaches. The first was Bob Hill (who has some ties to the Thunder franchise) who went 3-15 before being canned and replaced by then general manager Gregg Popovich - which was Pop's first head coaching experience; just like Scott Brooks. Who knows - this time next year we could be talking about playoff matchups and how amazing OKC's turnaround was and how incredible this city and its fans are. It could happen. You know, the Tampa Bay Rays did go to the World Series this year...

If you're a pessimist:
A. Look at the obvious 2-24 record. The 11 straight losses at home. The highest losing margin in the league. The same problems plaguing the team. The youth and inexperience. The frustrated coaches, players and fans. Lots of reason to be discouraged.

B. What if the young players don't pan out? What if Durant is just a 20 point a game guy that never has "star" power and never can take over a game? What if Jeff Green stays inconsistent and never does better than 14 a game? What if Russell Westbrook was the wrong choice and never understands how to control himself and how to take smart shots and make good decisions? What if OKC doesn't even get the No. 1 pick next year? Even if it does, what if that pick doesn't impact the team? Can OKC stand another horrible season like this?

C. Expiring contracts. What if the wrong moves are made again? The Thunder could end up with a new team but with new contracts and the same misery. If history is any indicator, there's really not much reason to trust management so far.

D. Some say no free agent will want to play in Oklahoma City. Some say no rookie will sign to play here. What if that's true? I don't think people have such short memories to remember how much everyone talked about how wonderful OKC was three years ago when the Hornets were around, but who knows?

E. The economy. A few of the Thunder's owners have taken some hits in the market and some wonder if they will have the money to dish out to prize free agents. Though Oklahoma City has been called "the most recession proof city in the United States" by Yahoo, that doesn't mean the PBC won't be cutting back as well.

So which group do you fall in? I'm definitely in the optimist group because this is the first year in a new city with a young team. A few changes, a wise draft pick, smart offseason moves and the evolution of the young trio and this team can be much better.

8 comments:

AD said...

Put me down in the optimist category... we're going to get better... no doubt in my mind.

Anonymous said...

Thats easy to say when you are 2-24 you dumb Okie. Next season when you start 3-23 you can claim 50% improvement. Dumb asses. This couldnt happen to a better hicktown. Big League Losers and a team to compliment you.

Anonymous said...

The answer is simple and you guys dished it out in abundance for 4 years: Support the team better you dolt. Supposedly the problems in New Orleans and Seattle was fan support, and that was voiced from the mayor of your hick town all the way down to the drunken fools posting at okcnbafans.com.

The Thunder lose because OKC is not supporting them well enough. You should feel ashamed of yourselves for squandering something as precious as an NBA franchise.

Anonymous said...

What other blogs are out there for me to get updates on my former favorite team? Cause this is the most pathetic writing about a sports team I've ever encountered. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

The 97-98 spurs team had David Robinson come back after playing only 6 games the previous year. And Blake Griffin isn't post-senior year Tim Duncan. That comparison is poor.

Don't you worry the ownership has NO IDEA what they're doing? They stripped the roster, and have put very little effort into the team (unis, logo, in-game production). 3rd coach in three years, no free agents in 3 years. And why re-sign Swift, Petro, Sene? 21 feet of garbage.Delonte West, Kurt Thomas, and Wally Z could all really help this team, and they got zero back for thaose trades except draft picks.

I think the owners just see dollar signs from a city starved for entertainment. He got free stadium upgrades, free practice facility, tax breaks for player salaries.With all the pain Clay, Aubrey & Tom Ward got in the market collapse, I doubt you'll see any spending for 4-5 years. After all, they spent $45 mil to get out of Seattle, and $30 mil in relocation fees.

BTW, OKC looks awesome, when New Orleans is underwater.....

Instead of being optimistic, try "keeping it real"....

Anonymous said...

basketball is the easiest sport to turn around? what the hell sport have you been watching for the past 20 yea.....oh, that's right.

1.) there have only been something like 6 teams who have won championships in the past 30 years. Lakers, Celtics, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Spurs (and one Heat year). Doesn't seem that easy to break into that club, does it....

2.) you said the team is young and that's one of the reasons the team is bad. then you suggest blake griffin, another 20 year old will be the answer to turning it around?

God, i hate the fact that you retards have our team. at least we understood what was going on.

Anonymous said...

Some rich guy bought the Sonics and brought them here. Most people didn't have a say. We're just along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

A. The nucleus won't develop because two or maybe all three of your core players will be out of OKC once they hit their prime.

B. You're not going to sign anybody worth a damn to play in OKC with that cap space. Unless you love the Kristics of the league.

C. Your roster is completely healthy and untalented, unlike the Heat from last year. The nucleus of the 92 Mavs was completely different from the 99 nucleus (when they started to turn it around), which is completely different from today's nucleus (except Dirk). Plus they play in Dallas, TX, not OKC, so they have an easier time attracting players.

D. David Robinson (ever heard of him?) was injured the WHOLE season in order for them to be that terrible, you dolt!

E. San Antonio wasn't constructed from scratch after they drafted Duncan! Are you even serious??? Again, Robinson was hurt. Ever heard of Avery Johnson? Sean Elliot?

You're garbage as a blogger. If you're one who thinks you know enough about the NBA to write a blog in OKC, then you Oklahomans are truly uneducated about pro sports. You guys don't know shit.