Are The Oklahoma City Thunder the NBA's Real Super Team?
They say a superstar team will usually beat a team full of superstars.
By now everybody is aware of the new team full of superstars that has been assembled in Miami , but are they also a superstar team?
It is very possible that the Miami Thrice and Co. will dominate the league for years to come in a way that has not been seen since the Bill Russell led the Celtics dynasty of the 1960's.
There is also a chance that the new South Beach super team will be the biggest bust since David Beckham came to the LA Galaxy in 2007 to make soccer in the U.S. relevant.
I say that because with the stars aligning to draw so much talent together on one team, anything less than an immediate championship will be considered a failure.
To get knocked out before the NBA finals, would be a complete disaster that would have the critics sharpening their pencils and dusting off their keyboards in preparation for an all out attack.
Although there have been countless articles written, covering every conceivable angle on the new Miami super team, nobody really knows how it will all pan out.
There are just too many variables and too many questions that remain to be answered, especially along the lines of team chemistry.
There is however an organization that is bursting with both talent and chemistry and is already on their way to becoming a superstar team—the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The main difference between the Thunder and the Heat is how their respective teams have been formed.
While the maestro Pat Riley was cleaning out the house at Miami in an effort to build a team full of superstars from the ground up, his counterpart at OKC Sam Presti has formed his team through some very savvy drafting over the last few years.
This leads to the question of chemistry, which is usually the biggest difference between a team full of superstars and a superstar team.
Who will be the true leader of the Heat? Who will get the ball when the game is tight, late in the fourth quarter?
Everybody knows it is D-Wade's team, but can Lebron, the self proclaimed "King," really play Robin in Miami ?
Can Chris Bosh deal with a fall from top dog to third option?
If things do become rocky, will the team implode under the combined weight of their own egos?
The leader of the Thunder is undisputed.
Kevin Durant not only won the scoring title last season over D-Wade and LeBron, he was also selected to the All-NBA First Team, among other achievements. He is the clear leader on a young, talented and motivated team.
OKC management has been building this team for three to four years and the players have grown together over this time, establishing chemistry and an understanding of each other, both on and off the court.
Most importantly, the results have begun to validate the effort put in behind the scenes.
In its inaugural season (2008-09) after relocating from Seattle , the young inexperienced OKC team finished with a dismal 23-59 record.
Fast forward one year and the team rode a nine-game winning streak into the back end of the season to finish with a much improved record of 50-32—more than double the previous year’s wins.
If it wasn't for Pau Gasol's last second putback layup off a Kobe Bryant miss in Game Six of the LA-OKC first round playoff series, then the Thunder would have taken the eventual champion Lakers to Game Seven, where anything could have happened.
Led by their emerging superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have developed into a force to be reckoned with in the West. The core of Durant, Westbrook, Green, and the emerging rookie James Harden are all under 24 years old and that is the scary part.
NBA players throughout history usually peak around 26 to 29, so it is safe to assume that the best is yet to come from these budding young stars. Recently, Durant quietly and humbly signed a five-year contract extension that provides the glue to keep that core in place.
Not only are they a team on the rise, but they have been welcomed with open arms in Oklahoma . The Thunder now plays out of the Ford Center in front of a rabid and adoring home crowd.
Recently they crushed the previous record for loudest playoff crowd ever (102 decibels at Arco arena) by raising the dB meter to 109 during Game Three of the series against the Lakers.
To put it in perspective, a jet engine takeoff is 100 decibels, and the human pain threshold is 110 decibels. The aptly named Thunderdome has become a daunting venue for visiting teams.
While the Lakers remain the force in the West, the future is not on their side.
The nucleus of Bryant, Derek Fisher, Gasol, Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom are all 30 or older. The average age of the Lakers roster is 29.7, compared to OKC's average age of 23.7.
You can see why the future looks so bright for the Thunder and their fans.
So while all the hype surrounds the new super team in Miami , the OKC Thunder are flying quietly under the radar preparing for an assault on the Lakers stranglehold in the West, and they will not stop there.
It remains to be seen whether or not Miami is the real deal, but there is every reason to believe that the Thunder most definitely are so.
Perhaps the NBA’s next super team will not turn out to be the organization that is firmly entrenched in the media’s spotlight; instead, it might be a young, talented and confident team from the West that is only going to get better with each passing year.
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