OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 6-6 AFTER 12 GAMES
Sam Presti dedicated 2020-2021 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a re-build for the franchise.
The GM for the team on Reno Street cleaned the roster of significant players including Chris Paul, Steven Adams, Dennis Schröder, and Danilo Gallinari, allowing new head coach Mark Daigneault to develop the Thunder’s younger talent.
Presti’s goal is to make OKC a contender for the NBA title and not just another team that shoots for a playoff spot. Making the playoffs is not in itself a bad goal, but the real prize for every team in the Association is to take the Larry O’Brian Trophy and put it on display in the home arena. At one time Presti’s goal was to keep his team viable, making money year to year, putting butts in the seats, and not giving the fans an off year of mediocrity. That goal, modeled after the Utah Jazz, always good, but maybe not the one to chase. Always in the playoffs, but rarely in the Finals and never an NBA champion, can make a franchise stale. Did OKC get stale? I would say no, especially after last season when that group of players came together game after game after game.
A long range goal in front of just keeping the team a minor winner on the court seems to have been shut in the Thunder back closest. Presti wants more. OKC is not a guaranteed winning for this season and possibly for the next few in reality. But winning an NBA title is not that far down the road with some player movements and some always needed luck.
Now to the present, twelve games into a shortened NBA season of 72 games. The Thunder is stuck in the middle of the Western Conference, winning half of their game, and displaying a Thunder trait since the days of the first season in OKC. The team plays hard, never gives up, and they play exciting and very good basketball.
That was on display Friday night as the Thunder overcame a 22 point lead by the Chicago Bulls, defeating the Windy City team 127-125 in a highlight full game in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC. The Bulls, not so much rebuilding as the Thunder, and now coached by Billy Donovan, fell flat in the second half as of turnovers and just poor play. OKC again showed that winning spirit of the franchise, taking the Bulls down with a cast that many fans in the NBA could not recognize.
The Thunder is a team that will just get better and better in the next few seasons as the roster defines itself, knowing that the great number of draft picks will overhaul the team into a big time winner. That is my opinion today in the middle of January. Presti has a plan. Thunder fans, do not worry.
Winning games this year is nice but the losses that will surely accumulate are not bad and even have a silver lining. Every spot closer to the number one pick in the next Association draft is something that Presti will not lose account of.
All Photos: AP