2010-11 Season Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder


There is a lot of like about the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are a great up and coming squad with a lot of youth and talent. Durrant is a stud who may attempt to play all five positions this season – just for kicks – and Westbrook is a perfect counterpart to him. This is a squad who gave the Lakers headaches in the first round last season, and the only thing staying in their way is, well, a bunch of other teams with more experience.


Name Pos Yrs 2009-10 Stats
Cole Aldrich* C R
Nick Collison F-C 6 5.9 PPG, 5.1 APG
Deaquan Cook G 3 5.0 PPG, 1.0 APG
Kevin Durant F 3 30.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG
Jeff Green F 3 15.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG
James Harden G 1 9.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG
Serge Ibaka F 1 6.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG
Royal Ivey* G 6 2.1 PPG, 0.6 APG
Nenad Krstic C 6 13.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG
Eric Maynor G 1 4.5 PPG, 3.4 APG
Byron Mullens C 1 1.1 PPG, 0.8 RPG
Morris Peterson G 10 7.1 PPG, 0.9 APG
Thabo Sefolosha F-G 4 6.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG
Russel Westbrook G 2 16.1 PPG, 8.0 APG
D.J. White F 2 4.9 PPG, 1.9 APG

* New to team

Head Coach: Scott Brooks
Assistant Coaches: Maurice Cheeks, Rex Kalamian, Mark Bryant, Brian Keefe

Meaningful Offseason Moves

  • Traded 2011 second-round pick to Miami for Daequan Cook and the 18th pick
  • Traded 18th pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future first-round pick
  • Traded pick numbers 21 and 26 to New Orleans for the 11th pick and Morris Peterson
  • Drafted Cole Aldrich
  • Purchased the 31st pick from Atlanta, drafted Tibor Pleiss
  • Traded a future second-round pick to Miami, drafted Latavious Williams
  • Drafted Ryan Reid
  • Signed Kevin Durrant for 5-years, maximum extension
  • Released Kyle Weaver
  • Signed Royal Ivey for 2-years, veteran’s minimum

Why the Thunder are Contenders

I’d like to not like the Thunder. Specifically, seeing as how they’re in the same division as the Jazz, I can’t quite get my head around the idea of liking them, but increasingly, I’m in the minority in that opinion.

Seems like these days, the Thunder are rapidly becoming the pundit’s darlings for the season ahead. They own the cover of the SI NBA preview issue, and Durant shares the cover of ESPN the Mag. Bloggers the world around are rallying around this squad, who broke out last year by going 50-32 in 09-10 (after going 29-59 the year before). They finished 3rd in the Northwest and Coach Brooks netted the Coach of the Year. Durant won the scoring title over LeBron with a .4 edge in PPG, and was a part of most pundits short list for MVP.

Durant followed that up with a monster performance at the FIBA tournament. He and his Thunder teammate Westbrook made a dramatic first impression on the world basketball community, and were big reasons that USA won the tournament.

So, in my opinion, the real question is what will they be able to do for an encore.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun, fun squad to watch. They run-and-gun, they’re above average on defense (11th of 30 in opponents PPG). If you get the chance to watch them, please do. It’s a great young squad, and if they keep together, they may well be the future of the Western Conference once the  Lakers get too old to compete (or Phil Jackson retires, whichever comes first).

I could take some time here to point out that they really will need to work on their defense before they can get past the second round, or that Durant is actually a humanoid from time-to-time, and the team is in trouble if he’s not scoring 25 or more, but… bah.

Let me just put it this way. I’m not yet ready to proclaim the Heat will beat the Celtics this year, and I’m not ready to say that the Thunder will be able to beat the Lakers (or the Jazz, while I’m at it).

Still, fun team.


~ by djepperson on October 26, 2010.

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