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OKC Thunder...You Are My Team

**With the NBA starting their season next week, I figured I'd roll a couple of NBA previews your way. Of course, the people at www.talkhoops.net gave me the hometown Oklahoma City Thunder. Go check out the website and let us know what you think of the preview, enjoy!**

07-08 Recap: 20-62, 5th in West
I’m just going to keep it 100 with you people, because that’s what you deserve. The Seattle Sonics were bad last year. I mean, bad like the kid in the grocery store who didn’t get the cereal they wanted bad and decided to throw a fit and knock over boxes of cereal in process. Bad like the momma who went Omarion on the little kid and said, “You Got Served.”

You get my point.

Here’s my problem with the now named OKC Thunder. I think everyone is playing one position off. Kevin Durant should not be playing the 2. Did you see him college? Dude was a problem going to the rack, popping treys, and posting up. He can’t do all that at the 2. Move him to the 3. Jeff Green? He’s not a 3, he’s a 4. Ok, honestly he’s a 3.74. He’s not really that quick to play the 3, so he got abused by all of the swingmen in the west. His jumper is iffy coming into his second year; but he actually does have post moves. Yet P.J. Carlesimo has this vision that he wants 4 people on the court to all be 6’9” or taller at all times. Get over it P.J., play Durant at the 3 and play Green at the 4.

The Seattle Sonics finished 20-62, and most of those wins came in the 2nd half when their schedule consisted of other teams who had nothing to play for. Durant was their only go to guy, and that consisted of futile fadeaways and long threes. Their offense is anemic to say the least. Their defense did improve, but they’ve got a ways to go in 2008-09 before they start making headway in the very crowded Western Conference.

PG - Earl Watson (10.7 ppg, 6.8 apg, 45.3% FG) Rating - 5
Overachieving as a #1 PG, he can’t shoot and his defense is suspect. Does well to distribute the ball and play his role. Perfect backup PG, bad news if he’s your starter.

SG - Kevin Durant (20.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 43.0% FG) Rating - 8
If Durant can get a bit more weight and become more fluid and going to hole, he’s going to be a problem. At 20, he’s the clear leader of the team, and he’s going to improve in ’09.

SF - Jeff Green (10.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 42.9% FG) Rating - 6
Out of position and limited offensively and defensively. Develop a jumper and see me next year.

PF - Nick Collison (9.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 50.2% FG) Rating - 5
Just like Watson and Wilcox, its bad news if he’s your starter. He’s a great guy to have on your bench, but there’s nothing he brings that makes a significant impact.

C - Chris Wilcox (13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 52.4% FG) Rating - 6
Wilcox is at least somewhat athletic, but he’s injury prone. I wouldn’t want him as a starter either. He’ll play hard for 30-40 minutes and put up just good enough numbers that you could trade him for draft picks in ’09-10.

Bench Rating - 6
The addition of rookie Russell Westbrook will be big, he’s a big time spark off the bench that is extremely fast and has a nose for getting to the basket. He will be starting by years end. Also, big adds of Desmond Mason and Joe Smith will help keep the Thunder competitive. In fact, they probably should start too. I don’t understand why you don’t just go Westbrook, Mason, Durant, Joe Smith, and Wilcox. Make Jeff Green your 6th man so he can fill at the 3 or 4. Watson is steady off the bench, and you have big men who can…well, take fouls.

Breakout Player: Kevin Durant
This is the leap year for Durant, he got 20, 5, and 5 last year. This year is the time that he cracks that all-star ballot and overcomes the opposing team’s best defender. I see 24, 7, and 5 this year, with more emphasis of his help on the defensive end as well. Can we say, “Starting at small forward for the Western Conference…#35, Keviiiiiiiiin Duraaaaaaaaant!!!”

Biggest Disappointment: Anyone Not Named Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook
Lets be honest, players 4-12 could be cut RIGHT NOW and not make a difference to the team for real.

Coaching Situation: P.J. Carlesimo
If your coach has previously been choked by his own player, you should expect him to eventually get fired. If your coach couldn’t win a playoff series with a talent-laden western conference power (Portland TrailBlazers), you should expect him to eventually get fired. If your coach has previously been choked by his own player, you should expect him to eventually get fired.

Solution: Go get assistant coach Tom Thibodeau from Boston or Paul Pressey from New Orleans and bring some fusion to the offense.

Prediction: 5th in Northwest Division
Predictably, The Thunder will go as far as KD35 takes them, but I think that there are some horrible basketball teams this year in 2009 and they aren’t the worst team in the league. However, they are the worst team in the Northwest conference.

Good thing is that they have GM Sam Presti on their side, you can see that they are starting to add the pieces and role-players necessary to provide a much more competitive squad starting this year. I see a +5 win increase versus last year just on the basis of how raw Durant’s game will improve. Add in Westbrook going to the hole like Monta Ellis (minus breaking your own ankle on a moped and lying about it) and they become more formidable.

As for this year, my people in Oklahoma, just be patient. You were blessed to watch a blossoming Chris Paul and a very good Hornets team a couple of years ago, be ready for the same type of growth from KD35 this time around. In a losing effort.



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