Oklahoma City Thunder (2008/09 Record: 23-59)
The Thunder had an abysmal start to their 2008/2009 campaign, beginning the season 1-12 under then coach P.J. Carlesimo. The team then went a less embarrassing 22-47 with Scott Brooks at the helm, for a 32 percent victory rate over the final 69 games. The 2009-10 Thunder can expect to win a similar percentage of games.
Oklahoma City’s franchise begins and ends with third-year player Kevin Durant. The 21 year old burgeoning super-star can do just about anything on the court. He can play the mid-range game, shoots an outstanding 42 percent from three-point territory, and at 6’9″ can post up nearly any perimeter player that has the misfortune of guarding him. The man is bound to win many scoring titles over his long career and should put up his best numbers in this a contract year. The big question is can he make his teammates better? On the offensive end he possesses a negative assist-to-turnover ratio, while on the defensive end he hasn’t shown the foot speed (or desire) to use his length to shut down opposing perimeter scorers.
What Kevin Durant could use to take his game to the next level is a teammate who can help spread the floor. Rookie two-guard James Harden may help in some regard, however in his first season, his impact is more likely to be felt on the defensive end. If Durant is to exploit the mismatches that he’ll create on a nightly basis the Thunder will have to hope that sophomore guard Russell Westbrook has spent the summer improving his outside jumper.
Rebounding and interior defence are the most pressing issues that the Thunder will face in the 2009/10 season as GM Sam Presti failed to upgrade his roster at the four and five following the aborted Tyson Chandler trade last season. The Thunder will have to facilitate a trade using one of their expiring contracts if they are too see any improvement under the basket – Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic simply will not do.
Unless Presti can use his cap space to acquire a few decent bigs and Kevin Durant can make a Lebron-like leap in his third season the Thunder will remain out of the hunt for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference.
2009/10 Season Record: 28-54