Right around this time last year, I was talking hoops with a friend of a friend through a Facebook status update comment thread. Done puking? Good. Now I can get back to my story. This guy lived in Oklahoma somewhere, and made the comment that as soon as next year, the Thunder were going to be “very good.” I said something along the lines of, “Slow down, Champ. These things take time. Their defense has a long way to go, and Durant’s shoulders are not quite wide enough to put a franchise on top of them.” Well, Random Guy Whose Name I Can’t Remember, here I am, eating my words.
As of this morning, the Oklahoma Thunder are 30-21 (that’s 59%), sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference. They have a better record than San Antonio, Portland, Houston, and New Orleans. They have just one fewer win than Phoenix. My prediction is they surpass the Suns within a week. They’re just two wins behind Dallas and Utah as well.
As far as my claim that they can’t play defense, their point differential (3.1) is better than both Phoenix and Dallas, two of the five teams ahead of them in the standings. They allow just 95 points per game, tied for fewest allowed in the Western Conference, and just one point shy of the lowest allotment per game league-wide. The Thunder keep their opponents to a measly 43.8 shooting percentage per game. They out-rebound by three boards per game, and allow just 1.17 points per possession.
And it seems like Kevin Durant’s bony shoulders are plenty wide, thank me very much. Mr. Durant is currently second in Win Shares in the league (9.5), behind only LeBron James (13.4 *cough, 13.4?!?!?*). He is seventh in Player Efficiency Rating (25.3). He’s second in points per game (29.7), once again behind only LeBron (29.8). Throw in seven rebound per game, and great shooting (49-38-88) and what you’ve got yourself there is a bona fide franchise player. There’s a sense that there is more development to come from the youngster, but it’s also clear that his current level of play is good enough to be in *gulp* MVP consideration land.
I haven’t had a chance to watch Thunder games. So I can’t say what is going on there. I don’t know Westbrook from Green. But the results speak for themselves. Kudios to the squad as a whole. It’s obvious the guys are playing hard, and that they have a talented coaching staff working with them. Speaking of which, what were the odds of a slow, short, white guy with floppy hair being a good NBA coach? About 350,000%? Scott Brooks – any body who sucks that bad and stays in the league that long has to know something about hoops. So there you have it. The Oklahoma City Thunder. An awesome squad, with an awesome coach, who are (by my estimation) at least 2 seasons ahead of where they should be. Keep your ears peeled, they’re making noise.