Posted by Neil Paine on October 18, 2010
Welcome to our 2010-11 NBA Blogosphere Previews, in which we contact the finest team bloggers on the web and ask them to contribute their thoughts on the squad they cover. What follows is their take, along with the team's depth chart (courtesy of ESPN.com), projected 2011 stats via our Simple Projection System, and polls where you get to have your say. Enjoy!
Oklahoma City Thunder
Coach: Scott Brooks
Record: 50-32, Finished 3rd in NBA Northwest Division
Pythagorean W-L: 51-31 (10th of 30)
SRS: 3.55 (9th of 30) ▪ Pace Factor: 93.1 (12th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 108.3 (12th of 30) ▪ Defensive Rating: 104.6 (9th of 30)
2011 Depth Chart (with 2010-11 projected per-36 minute stats ... yellow = newcomer)
2010-11 Blogger Outlook by Royce Young, dailythunder.com
What made the Thunder so good last season? Yes, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green. Those are all right answers. But there was one theme the Thunder hung their hat on all season - defense.
Oklahoma City ranked ninth in defensive efficiency and actually led the league in blocked shots per game, despite not really having a shot blocker. It all started with the stopper Thabo Sefolosha who is one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league. But the jump happened because two players upped their game on that end. Durant was no longer a defensive liability (in fact, some might say he was actually good) and Westbrook gambled a little less and pressured opposing point guards.
However, OKC lost the architect of that defense to Tom Thibodeau's new staff in Chicago. So the question is, can they keep it up? It makes sense they would because as the players round out into finished forms, they aren't going to forget what they learned.
Are they ready to challenge for the Western crown? Probably not, but this is a playoff team and maybe one that can make a little noise past April.