The Thunder have so much youth that they should be fully expected to improve in a big way over last season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder almost came of age last season as they gave the Los Angeles Lakers a good run for their money in the 2010 NBA Western Conference quarterfinals. If the Thunder had done just a little better during the regular season they could have avoided a first round tilt with LA but that is history now and the OKC Thunder are not about the past, rather they are about the future.
Oklahoma are considered the second favorite to win the Western Conference championship next season, only behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
For Oklahoma, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green all had very impressive seasons last season and they should be bright spots next year once again. Durant had over 30 points per game while Westbrook and Green had about 30 per game combined. Westbrook was among the league leaders in assists per game (8th at 8.0 apg) while Green was a significant contributor for rebounds (6 rpg).
Since those three players form the nucleus of next year's team and since they are still very young there should be a full expectation of improved numbers in 2010/11 and with that there should be a heavy expectation for improved success for the Thunder as a whole.
Down the depth slot there are both James Harden and Serge Ibaka, two players that are both currently 20 years old. They both logged significant minutes last season and, despite not being starters, they were both very effective when playing. If they continue to develop they can help constitute an impressive supporting cast of players and both of these players have enough scoring touch to ensure that defensive sags won't go unpunished.
Even DJ White, if he stays healthy, could make an impact for Oklahoma City. He'll be 24 in August and in 102 minutes played last year White scored 59 points and that is a very good per minute scoring rate.
When it comes to young players and potential improvements there are definitely busts.
However there are definitely booms as well and the Thunder have such a young crop of talent that something has to start clicking big time in Oklahoma City.
Our recommendation is to back the Thunder at +600 with Blue Square to win the Western Conference championship next season. They probably won't be able to beat Miami so you're advised to stay away from their outright winner's odds at this point and just stay focused on the weaker Western Conference.
Prediction: OKC go 59-23 next season.
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