After what seemed like forever in NBA years, the Seattle Supersonics took the proverbial leap and landed squarely in the middle of Oklahoma City, changing their name to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After spending 41 years playing in front of the meager thousands at Key Arena, owner Clay Bennett thought it was time to break away from the confines of a substandard arena to a new and improved Ford Center in OKC.
With the much heralded and controversial move that involved several court battles in Seattle and Oklahoma City, Bennett decided a change in scenery, along with a new name would hopefully change the fate of the storied franchise.
The move eventually cost Bennett $45 million dollars to break free from the remaining two year contract at Key Arena but hopefully with the frenzied fans, and fresh start that OKC offers it will be money well spent for years to come.
The Thunder look to try to improve on a 20-62, the teams worst season in franchise history with some fresh legs from this yearâ€™s sophomore core, and new faces taken in this yearâ€™s draft.
Even a minor improvement over last yearâ€™s mark will be a welcome change for management who has already conceded that expectations will not be high according to Bennett.
The bright spot this season will again be highly touted sophomore guard Kevin Durant, who led the club in scoring with 28.2 points, and a respectable 20.3 ppg average throughout the season.
Durant, a 6â€™9â€ guard played just one season for Rick Barnes and the Texas Longhorns before coming out as the second pick in last seasonâ€™s draft. In his first year playing with the big boys Durant grabbed NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
He can go to the hole and drive the lane at will, but can be erratic and overwhelmed on the court forcing ill-advised shots more often than not for head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Despite his lack of awareness on the court Carlesimo has put the weight of the team squarely on his broad shoulders giving him the fire away from anywhere on the court.
Russell Westbrook looks to bolster a less than stellar point guard position after being picked as the number 4 overall player in this yearâ€™s draft. The team also tried to improve on its physical prowess by trading Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted to the Detroit Pistons for D.J White
The Thunder look to again be the doormats of the Western Conference, but instead of Seattle fans suffering through what looks to be a rebuilding decade, Oklahoma City will get a taste of what it will be like to back an upstart franchise that if truth be know Seattle would of gave away for nothing.
Another top prospect for the Thunder is rookie forward D.J White out of Indiana. All White did last year for the Hoosiers was average 17.4 points, while hauling down 10.3 bards per game on his way to claiming Big 10 Player of the Year honors. Whiteâ€™s bruising style should lend some credence to the power forward spot for the Thunder
Prediction: 5th Place 17-65
[tags]kevin durant, okc thunder, nba, d.j. white, seattle sonics[/tags]