The NBA season is less than 24 hours away, and the Thunder have their first game on Wednesday night. With everything that has gone on, let's get an idea of where we are and where we are going.
Where we are:
In 2008-2009, we finished a dismal 23-59. Even with a 20-30 record to close the season, things don't look good. We were a top 10 rebounding team last season, but our point guard of the future, Russell Westbrook, committed the most turnovers of anyone in the league . The Thunder are lead by one of the league's best scorers in Kevin Durant, but we were in the bottom of the league in scoring.
We are one of the youngest teams in the league. The Thunder have an average age of 25. If our young bench doesn't get better, don't expect much improvement this season.
Where we want to be:
Kevin Durant said that his goal is to make the playoffs. The media wants to believe that it is possible for this team to get the eight seed, but they haven't come that far yet. In order to make it to the playoffs, we need a number of things.
First, consistent production from the bench. Last season, there were no players who were able to score at will against other team's second units. Look for James Harden, D.J. White, or Serge Ibaka to attempt to fill this role.
Second, production in the paint. Offensively and defensively, the interior Thunder players need to fill the stat sheet. Nenad Krstic was a great pick up last season, but he needs to learn to rebound better. Etan Thomas was a great pick up for his rebounding and shot changing abilities, but he isn't a scorer. Nick Collison was the most productive center most of last season for the Thunder. Serge Ibaka and D.J. White can make significant contributions if given the time to develop. Problem is, that will be difficult for both Ibaka and White to find enough time to grow as basketball players.
Third, we need to limit turnovers. Don't give the ball away. Durant is on the brink of super-stardom, but he averaged three turnovers per game. The starting five for Oklahoma City has so much potential, but on occasion, they do everything in their power to give games to their opponents. Literally.
Fourth, we need to learn to close games. Surprisingly, this preseason helped move the team closer to this goal. They were able to hold off opponents in situations instead of buckling under the pressure like last season. This goal comes from experience and keeping intensity up until the final whistle. The team has enough heart that this goal is attainable this season.
This might seem like a lot of big things for the team to worry about this season, and it is, but if a team wants to reach the playoffs, they have to do all the little things well. Here's to a great season. Thunder UP! And go Thunder go!
This Is Thunder Basketball.