2008-2009 Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview
2008 Oklahoma City Thunder basketball preview from Maddux Sports handicappers. Before you leave grab unbeatable nba picks from our NBA handicappers.
The used to be the Seattle Supersonics and then they were the Seattle Sonics, but now they are the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last year, the Sonics (20- 62) were downright bad. In their last season in Seattle, the team, which was and is quite young, were often resented by fans, harangued by the city and manipulated by owner Clay Bennett. During the long season, the Sonics managed to lose by some whopping margins. They were walloped by Denver twice in three weeks, losing to the Nuggets by 42 points each time. The Sonics lost by 20 or more points 15 times last season. The city went to court to force the team to stay in town, and it all got very contentious and embarrassing. The problem was that no one was interested in building the team a new arena and the club needed one.
The Sonics put a young team on the court and that team was unable to generate points, rebounds or defense. The club rarely took a three-pointer, they were 28th in 2-pointers and they were rated last in offensive efficiency. On the other end of the court, they were 28th in 3-point defense, 29th in forcing turnovers and 24th in defensive efficiency. Wow, it’s hard to believe that Oklahoma City wants this team. But they do.
GM Sam Presti is extremely happy with how the draft turned out. The Thunder had the fourth overall pick in the draft and chose the underrated Russell Westbrook. After being drafted, Westbrook, a point guard, played well in the summer league. The club traded the rights to Trent Plaisted and Walter Sharpe to get the 29th pick. They chose power forward D.J. White of Indiana. White’s physical play is much needed by this team. Forward/center DeVon Hardin of California was the 50th pick.
There’s potential at center but at this point not much more. Seven-foot-even Johan Petro and seven-foot-one Robert Swift are both entering their fourth NBA seasons. Petro has range and ably involves himself in the game but is inconsistent, while Swift, a former first-round pick, has been injured for much of his career. Six-foot-eleven Mouhamed Sene, who starts his third season, has been unmemorable and rookie Devon Hardin, also six-foot-eleven, looks to offer rebounding and shot blocking. Nick Collison is a hard worker and determined to produce every night. Last season, he was good for 9.8 PPG and 9.4 RPG. He could be a double-double guy this year. Veteran Chris Wilcox seems to have talent and star power but has not been able to reach his potential.
Last season, Kevin Durant was the league’s Rookie of the Year. The number two pick averaged 20.3 PPG, hitting 43% from the field and 87% from the foul line. But he often took bad shots—too many bad shots. He hit only 29% of his threes. Rookie Westbrook will be asked to man the point. He should have the stuff to do so with success.
Coach P.J. Carlesimo has some talent with which to work. There’s a range of youth that the coach can develop over time. The Oklahoma City is a team of the future. They will battle with Minnesota for fourth-place in the Northwest. Look for this club to finish out of the post-season as they win the fight for fourth in their division.