The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently one of the hottest teams in the NBA, but that’s just a recent development. Their first year after moving from Seattle, they were a disaster, and that was only three years ago. But this season, a year after getting to the Western Conference Finals, they’re one of the favorites to win it all. How have the Thunder been able to come so far, so fast?
Looking at the team, the easy answer is that they found some of the best young talent in the game and built around that. But if you take a step back you’ll see some great management. Thunder GM Sam Presti found that talent and he found the right guy to manage it. Scott Brooks is a coach that’s an exception to the rule that you don’t get a young guy to coach young players. Normally it doesn’t work out, but Thunder star Kevin Durant has always thought highly of Brooks.
“I knew his basketball background and I knew how much he knew about the game,” Durant said. “But to be honest, once they got rid of P.J. [Carlesimo], I didn’t know he would be the interim coach. I didn’t know they’d bring him in as a coach. But once they did, the concepts and the identity that he tried to bring to this organization was something I believed in, and I knew it was going to be good for our organization. I always, since Day One, I believed in Sam Presti and the guys in our organization.”
After all the offseason debate about small market vs. large market teams, it’s great to see stars like Durant and Russell Westbrook sticking with their team in Oklahoma City. Westbrook just signed his big extension, cementing that this Thunder team is going to be a contender for a long time.
Aside from the occasional spat that seems to occur between Durant and Westbrook over who the team leader is, this team seems to have everything going for them. With their young talent core and a bunch of role players, they’re going to have quite a few shots at a title. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t capitalize on at least one of them.