Oklahoma City's Young Trio Fights Towards the Playoffs

Curtis Finchum@CRose24Correspondent IDecember 17, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY - OCTOBER 29:  Jeff Green #22 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stands on the court during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Ford Center on October 29, 2008 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Bucks won 98-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, the Seattle Supersonics had a dynamic young duo to build around. Forwards Jeff Green and Kevin Durant both entered the league together, with Durant making the bigger splash due to his high volume offense.

Then, the electric Russell Westbrook came along for the ride to Oklahoma City, and the Thunder were born. 

Westbrook, Durant, and Green made a formidable trio last year, providing both the league and their fans with electrifying play after electrifying play. But it was to no avail; they were a bottom feeder in the stacked Western Conference. 

Now, the Thunder have developed into a team that no one will want to play down the stretch of the season. 

If the playoffs were to start today, they'd be one game out of the eighth spot. One game. That's a dramatic turnaround after last season's disaster. 

The second season in Oklahoma City could turn out to be one for everyone to remember. 

The additions of Shaun Livingston, Nenad Kristic, and rookie James Harden have helped this team evolve into what could be a potential playoff contender. 

Durant has continued to develop his game, improving in close to every aspect, as well as bulking up with more muscle, though he remains very lean.

Green continues to be a consistent force, dominating on the glass and continuing to develop his shooting ability. 

Westbrook, however, needs to make the most important improvement. Though he's an explosive young player, he is prone to making poor decisions.

His assist to turnover ratio must stay down. Playing on an up-tempo team will of course bring turnovers, but he can't afford to go crazy with them. Otherwise, he will jeopardize their playoff hopes entirely. 

What the Thunder really like however, is that true inside presence that can spread the floor even more for the slashers that Harden, Durant, and Westbrook are. 

The Thunder are built for the long haul, but they have all the talent to win and make a run at the playoffs right now. 

Head coach Scott Brooks has all the pieces to build a winner in Oklahoma City and Durant and company have put together a solid start to their second season in their new home. 

Talent alone won't get them to the playoffs though, this team will truly have to come together down the stretch. As the season continues, the Thunder have two options. 

Continue to come together or collapse and fall back to mediocrity. In the end, this season will fall upon the shoulders of Durant, Green, and Westbrook.

Just how much weight can those thin shoulders bare?