Oklahoma City Thunder on the Up and Up

Greg EvansCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2009

After 41 games, the Thunder are starting to look like the basketball team that the state of Oklahoma was expecting to see.

Oklahoma City is 5-5 in its last 10 games, a mark that shows something is starting to click.

The most surprising part of this hot streak the Thunder are on? In these games, two consecutive wins were against consistent playoff teams (Detroit and Utah), one was a last second loss to Northwest Division leader Denver, and the Thunder are out-rebounding their opponents by almost five rebounds a game.

This season started off with a loud thud for Oklahoma's new team. This slow start led to the firing of then head coach P.J. Carlesimo and the promotion of Scott Brooks.

With coach Brooks, we have seen an improvement in all aspects of the game. The Thunder are near the top of the league in rebounding, and are 3-0 in games where their opponents scored less than 89 points.

Another reason for the Thunder recent success is the addition of center Nenad Krstic. He has added a valuable defensive presence that the Thunder were lacking. With Krstic, Nick Collison, and Jeff Green controlling the paint, the Thunder's defense is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, no article about Oklahoma City would be complete without mention of future All-Star Kevin Durant. According to NBA.com, Durant is No. 6 in the league in scoring. Some might say that this can be contributed to being surrounded by a mediocre team. I tend to disagree.

If the Thunder were as terrible as some analysts think they are, then Durant would constantly be double teamed. Opponents wouldn't have to worry about covering anyone else. Durant deals with his fair share of double teams, sure, but with the emergence of players like Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, the Thunder are slowly coming together.

This team is coming together and with Sam Presti's stockpile of first and second-round draft picks, this team will continue to grow and improve.

Mark my words, one day the Thunder will be a contender for the Northwest Division title.