Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Somewhere Over Thunder's Rainbow...

Ironically, a team that comes from one of the most rain-prone cities in the US, now finds itself being pounded by Thunderous losses, night in and night out. While teams like Boston, Clelveand and Los Angeles have 6 or less losses, Oklahoma is hoping to get that many wins right about now. Definitely a team in transition and in search of identity, but not a team without potential cornerstones for success.

USA Today takes a look at one of the few bright spots amongst the hurting Thunder, with rookie Russell Westbrook. Westbrook earned rookie of the month honors in December, and admits he didn't even know such an award existed. Still the rookie doesn't mind winning it as his play alongside Kevin Durant's has given the team some hope for the future. Right now last year's 4th overall draft pick, Westbrook, ranks third in scoring for rookies, right behind two ROY candidates in Derrick Rose & OJ Mayo. Westbrook's name isn't part of the talks for that season award quite yet, but should he continue his current path he might have a shot.

Currently, OKC is bottom of the NBA barrel, winning just 4 games, while losing 30. They've become that team that other teams see coming up on the schedule and realize they can breathe easy and pick up an extra W. Just the other night, Kevin Durant did showcase a bit of that competitive nature though, and hit a huge 3 against Denver in the final seconds. The only problem was Denver's Carmelo Anthony came right back to seal the Thunder's fate, hitting a game winning 3 of his own. The Nuggets left the court all smiles while once again the Thunder could simply shake their heads.

But this is to be expected from a team that is in all senses of the term, an expansion team. Their coach Scott Brooks even had a taste of that expansion life when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who ironically are slightly better than Oklahoma is this season. Over at TheSpoof.com they go as far as to fake a rumor that Kove Bryant might be traded to the Thunder, but only when Cuba becomes our 51st state. While they don't have a household name like Kobe, the Thunder's Westbrook and Durant are stars in the making who definitely give life to a young, talented squad and show promise for the future. The New York Times has a recent article which mentions that even if W's aren't there in Oklahoma, fans still show up but they're only concerned with the home games.

From NYTimes:

“Our fan base is still really not in tune with the rest of the league and even our team on the road,” Cornett said. “I don’t get the sense that if you walked into a restaurant and our team is playing a road game, that it’s a given that they are going to be playing it on TV. The market just hasn’t matured in that respect. To them, the N.B.A. is 41 home games, and the rest will take time to develop.”

So the fans are half into the team. Now the team needs to get more than just 2/5 of the team to give way more than 50% effort to cross that .500 mark within a few seasons.

Read Westbrook's honor gives dismal Thunder a bright spot at USA Today

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