Growing Pains: The Development of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Tariq AhmadContributor IFebruary 26, 2009

The final score from the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, OK:  Hornets 100, Thunder 98.

It was a headline all too familiar for the newly relocated Oklahoma City Thunder, who migrated from Seattle in 2008.  With the loss, the Thunder dropped their third consecutive game, and their record stood at 13-41 for the season.

Even though the team is winning less than one-fourth of their games, there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Many young teams endured the same trials and tribulations on their way to success and championships. 

Take the Spurs before they drafted Tim Duncan, and the Bulls after Michael Jordan left.  These teams were young and in a rebuilding process before gaining (or in the Bulls case, regaining) success, and this is exactly what the Thunder are experiencing.

The cornerstone of the rebuilding project is Kevin Durant, a top-five NBA point scorer and a perennial All-Star and MVP Candidate for years to come. 

Supporting him is Jeff Green, a former Georgetown forward who is averaging double figures in scoring and high single digit rebounds. As his game blossoms, he will become a consistent double-double man night in and night out. 

On the other side is high-flying, energetic guard Russell Westbrook. After spending two years at UCLA, he brings his skills and passion to the next level and is a solid contributor to OKC after replacing fellow former UCLA guard Earl Watson in the starting lineup.

The Thunder also have veterans of the game that are able to guide and mentor the young players, such as the aforementioned Watson, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic, and Desmond Mason, among others.

For anyone who has watched Thunder games, they will tell you this:  the teams' record is not a fair indicator of how the Thunder play. In fact, the Thunder have been involved in many competitive games throughout the season, and have lost, possibly in part due to youth, growing pains, and paying dues.

As long as the Thunder continues to play smart, keep the young nucleus together, and finish games, the NBA better be on alert.

What is that you hear?  That's the sound of Thunder rumbling in the background, and it's coming for the NBA Elite.