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The Thunder Could Be The Team Of The Next Decade | Dime Magazine
[Dime Magazine thinks OKC could be the team of next decade. Well, I'm even more excited for New Years now!] Who will be the team of the next decade? The easy answer would be whatever team LeBron is on, or whatever team D-Wade is on. But it’s hard to say that when you don’t even know which teams (or team) that will be.

One franchise that has dynasty potential if they can keep their main core intact is the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a talented young core consisting of superstar-in-the-making, Kevin Durant, along with Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden, the Thunder have the pieces in place to take over this league. In just their second year in Oklahoma City, the ex-Seattle Supersonics are already putting their new city on the NBA map. After last night’s win at Washington, the Thunder are 17-14 and just one game out of the final playoff spot in the West.At this same point last season, the Thunder were just 3-28. You can see how much improvement they’ve made in just a year.

At just 21 years old, Durant has raised his game and his stats in each of his three seasons as a pro. This season, KD is putting up 28.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 3 apg (all career highs). There’s no doubt that he’ll be an All-Star this season and will be a Top-5 player in the League within the next two or three years. Westbrook (16.4 ppg, 6.9 apg) has built on his great rookie season. He’s extremely athletic and his point guard skills continue to improve. His assist numbers have gone up by almost two whole assists per contest, and he dished out a career-high 15 dimes in a game against Philadelphia earlier this month.

DC Sports Box - Saunders Fumes, Promises Changes After Wiz Fall to Thunder
[Flip Saunders flips out after loosing to the Thunder.] Following Washington’s (10-20) second loss of the season to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, who swept the season series and won their fourth consecutive game with Tuesday’s victory, Saunders was so critical of his team’s efforts on the defensive end of the court that he suggested that he and four of any of the reporters and cameramen gathered for his post game news conference could probably give his team of professional players a run for their money. "We could take five guys in this room out here and we could have a chance," Saunders told reporters with nothing about his demeanor suggesting that he might be joking, "They can't guard anybody."

Seven questions for 2010 - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN
[This is a pretty good read over at ESPN. I've included the Thunder related stuff, but you might want to read the whole article.]

As guys get freakier and more athletic, are we witnessing an end to positional orthodoxy?

...In San Antonio, they put Tony Parker, who's a great scorer for a point, next to Manu, who's a great playmaker for a shooting guard, and things went well. The double-combo backcourt of Mo Williams and Delonte West turned Cleveland's backcourt from a disaster area to a huge strength last season. Even Jason Kidd, the truest of points, is playing with JET and JJ Barea, and has even become adept at knocking down catch-and-shoot 3s off of other people's creations. Phil Jackson's won only 10 championships using an offense that doesn't require a traditional point. And so many young combo guards are coming in with tons of talent: Tyreke Evans, Russell Westbrook, Brandon Jennings and even John Wall, who should definitely be put next to a guy who can pass and shoot when he comes into the league so that he can spend some time in each game going on guilt-free scoring rampages. Wall might be the combo-guard messiah...

Of the current young up-and-coming teams, which ones are for real and which ones will merely provide an entertaining illusion of success?

...Oklahoma City is the quintessential upstart squad. They're fun, charismatic, dynamic, athletic ... and not all that impressive as an offensive unit. It's the Thunder's defense that's led them to a 17-14 record this season. So long as tough, lanky defenders like Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha are patrolling the perimeter (and James Harden too), opponents are going to have a tough time scoring against them. With that Kevin Durant angle pick-and-roll as the anchor of their offense, they're a good bet to win a playoff series sometime soon...

...I think Oklahoma City wins a playoff series when their backcourt clicks into place, and that's close to happening. I love Westbrook's game and think he has a ton of potential, but he just needs to be more disciplined. He, pushes the ball, plays great defense, and does all these little things, but then he'll throw up a bad jumper, brick a full-speed reverse layup, or make a silly pass, and his true shooting percentage and turnover rates are way off of where they need to be because of that. It'll be interesting to see if the answer there is Harden maturing to the point where he can play 30-35 minutes a game and cover some of Westbrook's weaknesses with his shooting, playmaking and ability to create off the drive. (Combo guards!) But I think that young frontcourt is the envy of a lot of teams in the league, Sam Presti keeps getting valuable pieces without giving up much, and I'd call the future very bright there...

How do we begin to make sense of adjusted plus-minus?

...But because plus-minus is one number and so nebulous, we don't know which plus-minus numbers to take with a grain of salt and which ones not to. I'll bring up the semi-infamous Durant example here. Durant had terrible +/- ratings for his first two seasons, but has been incredible in year three. Was the Durant phenomenon ever even real, or did Durant actually improve this year in ways the stats didn't see? If we want plus-minus metrics to be as legitimate as the box score ones, we have to stress-test it like we have the conventional numbers that came before them.

Soak up this season, because it might be your favorite ever | Daily Thunder.com
[Great read over at Daily Thunder, and Royce is right. We are winning so enjoy every moment of it.] So, how does this relate to the Oklahoma City Thunder? Well, the point I’m trying to make is that I think this is the time to appreciate the Thunder. This is the time to soak it all up. You don’t want to be me, 10 years from now looking back and wishing you had absorbed and understood everything you were witnessing with this young team. It won’t be like regretting you decided to have a bowl of cereal with that milk that expired two days ago, but you’ll wish you would have valued it a little more. You will.

Thunder notebook: A sign of improvement | NewsOK.com
The Thunder entered Tuesday’s game against Washington having already matched its eight total road victories from last season, and more and more the team’s improvement is being recognized at each stop. Oklahoma City limped into the Verizon Center 3-27 one year and two days ago and lost 104-95 to the Wizards. But when asked about the difference in his team’s enhanced performances on the road, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said OKC is simply a better team. "We’ve been together for another year, and Sam (Presti) has added some good pieces and the guys are improving," Brooks said. "We’re a better team than we were last year, but we should be. If they’re not improving then we’re not doing our job."

Teds Take: Wizards vs. Thunder
How can you not love the Oklahoma City Thunder? A team that won 20 games in 2007-2008, and 23 games in 2008-2009, they have turned themselves into a winner by executing a nearly flawless rebuilding era. A relocation, fantastic drafts, and a little bit of luck has turned the former Seattle SuperSonics into a force that will soon be one of the top teams in the west. Only three games behind the division leading Denver Nuggets in the Northwest division and one game behind the Jazz for the 8th spot in the conference, it is hard to see this team fading out any time soon. [<--- Did you read that? If we beat Utah tomorrow we will clinch the 8th spot again!]

Kevin Durant has embraced his role as the team leader and superstar, guiding the Thunder to a 16-14 record and making himself a household name with the likes of LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo, and Dwane. His 27.8 ppg ranks 4th in the league and his 6.8 rpg lead the team. After a year at the University of Texas, Durant bounced to the NBA becoming the 2nd overall draft pick by the Sonics, where he ran away with the Rookie of the year honor. Durant's numbers have steadily improved in his three years in the league and he is showing no signs of slowing down (knock on wood).

College Basketball: Top 10 Players of the Decade | College Basketball by Collegehoops.net
3. Kevin Durant (Texas 06-07): If he wasn’t "one and done" at Texas, he could have possibly set every record ever in college basketball. First freshman to win the AP Player of the Year, NABC Division I Player of the Year, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, and the Adolph Rupp Trophy. He averaged 28.9 ppg in Big 12 play. He was the most entertaining player of the decade to watch. Although he made the right decision in leaving for the NBA after one year, I think all college hoops fans, especially Longhorns fans, wished he stuck around for a bit longer.