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NBA AM: Can The Thunder Win It All?
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On August 23, 2012 @ 5:00 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Oklahoma City Thunder have done such a magnificent job of building a top-flight team since moving from Seattle that criticizing them has almost become forbidden. Their growth over the last three years from a lottery team to one that has gone a combined 152-78 and advanced to the 2012 NBA Finals has formed a blueprint that many teams across the league are following.
However, going into the 2012-13 season, the question of whether or not the Thunder have improved enough to remain a championship contending team bears asking.
This has been a tremendous offseason for the Miami HEAT and the Los Angeles Lakers, OKC’s stiffest competition. The HEAT added former All-Stars Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen, while the Lakers reloaded with serious upgrades at point guard and center in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
Meanwhile, the Thunder’s biggest acquisition has been the drafting of Perry Jones III. They also extended Serge Ibaka and made some minor signings, bringing on Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton (non-guaranteed), and Hollis Thompson (also non-guaranteed), but those moves pale in comparison to what the HEAT and Lakers have done.
Development from within has been one of the biggest keys to the Thunder’s success, so there’s a certain case to be made that standing pat and banking on their young team improving was the best move.
You can get passed up quickly in this league, though; the San Antonio Spurs can testify to that. They, too, once set the standard that every team in the league strove to follow, yet they’re five seasons removed from their last championship. While they have remained competitive and amongst the league’s best, they undoubtedly think about what they could have done differently to add another championship rather than being stuck at four.
It’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Thunder finish any worse than second in the Western Conference after the regular season next year. Many experts are still picking them to remain at the top. But, based on the fact that they finished last season on a four-game losing streak and were fairly inactive this offseason, thoughts that they can finish next season with the franchise’s first championship since 1979 may be fueled off more hope than reality.
As the February trade deadline approaches, the Thunder have to seriously evaluate themselves and whether or not they can win the championship. They’re going to be one of the league’s best, but if they want to be the best, some roster shake ups may be in order.
Do you think the Thunder made the right move by having a quiet offseason in comparison to their biggest competition? Do they need to make a major move, or are they going to be capable of winning it all next season? Leave your thoughts below!
Mike Brown Reflects on 2011-12 And His Personal Growth
The Los Angeles Lakers are geared up for another potential championship run in 2012-13. Lakers head coach Mike Brown could not be in a better position to succeed with the additions of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Antawn Jamison. Their arrivals have revitalized a Lakers team that has been eliminated in the second round two consecutive seasons. They’re going to make Brown’s job a lot easier, but in an interview with ESPN.com’s Brian Kamenetzky he explains that a normal schedule and year of experience will help him just as much as the new pieces the team added.
“It was tough in that regard,” Brown said of the lockout-shortened season. “Everything was o rushed, and not only was everything so rushed, you’re talking about a culture that’s been what it was for 10, 12 years – however long they’ve been going this way. I don’t think there are any two guys that are the same out there. For Phil [Jackson] to be here and to have the success that he had for as long as he had, for me to come in – and obviously being myself because I can’t be Phil – that had to have been a culture shock to the players, too.
“It took some time, but I thought that as the year went along, especially during the playoffs, we were pretty connected. I thought it hurt us not having Metta [World Peace] against Denver, because they were able to take advantage of some things on the perimeter that they wouldn’t have been able to do if we had Metta. And even going into the Oklahoma series, after the first game I was good. I felt like we put together a plan after the first game as to where we could compete and possibly win the series. So, I felt good about our performance and our chances and all that other stuff in that series.
“Obviously, it was unfortunate that we didn’t win and it was disappointing. But for the shortened season and all the other stuff, I thought we had a solid year.”
Initially Brown was caught off guard by the amount of attention that came with being at the helm of the Lakers. He knew it was a high-profile position, but he was not prepared for the actuality of it.
“I thought I got better with the media as the year went along,” Brown said. “Initially, that was a shock to me, in terms of understanding why and how everything can be such a big deal here. In Cleveland, I experienced it a little bet because LeBron [James] is a guy that drew the media’s attention on a national level, but really the media was only concerned about him and him only, and only sometimes if we won or lost.
“The media was not as big a deal for me when I was in Cleveland because they didn’t cover, or they weren’t as interested in the other guys like they are here from 1-15. You could be the 14th player on the team, and if there’s a small thing going on, on the court or off the court, it can turn into a media frenzy. So that was an adjustment that I had to make. Just understanding that, feeling that, accepting it, dealing with it throughout the course of the year.”
Unlike Brown’s predecessor Jackson, who was a master manipulator of the media, Brown stays away from using it as a tool.
“I’m not a guy who feels like I need to send a message to the team through the media,” Brown said. “It’s not my style. Looking back at it, I know there were a lot more headlines in the past but for me I think of our club more as being in a bunker. It’s us, and us that has to stick together, and us that has to figure out our problems. I believe the more that you include people outside of that punker, the more problems you’re going to have.”
Whatever problems Brown does run into next season, coaches from around the league would gladly take them on to be in his position. He has a great opportunity to prove his worth as a coach and put himself amongst the elite by winning a championship, the only thing his resume is really missing right now.
Up Close With Ryan Watkins
The Boise State Broncos finished in last place in the Mountain West Conference last year, but they’re looking to change that this year and spearheading that effort will be big man Ryan Watkins. Watkins is going to be a leader of this year’s team, and the potential draft prospect tells HOOPSWORLD what to expect from him next year in this exclusive interview.
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