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News » Get used to the cellar

Get used to the cellar

Get used to the cellar
The Thunder's 2-19 start has put Oklahoma City on a dangerously close pace to finish the season with the worst record in NBA history, potentially trumping the 9-73 season by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.

But it's not the possibility of seeing Oklahoma City set a mark for Basketball futility that Thunder fans should be concerned with. It's the years that follow this already lost season that is of much greater significance.

While the Thunder isn't likely to win fewer than nine games this season, no team that has started a season 2-19 has gone on to win more than 15 games. And of those four teams, the Denver Nuggets were the fastest to reach at least 40 wins - three years after their 11-71 season in 1997-98.

It took the Chicago Bulls four years to win at least 40 games after finishing 15-67 in 2000-01, the Dallas Mavericks seven years after an 11-71 season in 1992-93 and the Vancouver Grizzlies eight years after a 15-67 season in 1995-96.

The Thunder could be on a similar timeline.

The only thing that suggests Oklahoma City is in position to avoid such a prolonged stint in the cellar is the franchise already has its young core of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook in place. Together, they give the Thunder a talented nucleus bad teams of yesteryear almost never had.

A possible top three pick in this year's draft will add only more firepower and promise.

But even the Thunder's young guns don't guarantee Oklahoma City a more rapid ascent. The 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks had a similar if not more talented young trio of Jason Kidd, Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson, all three of them top four draft picks. Still, the Mavs started that season 1-20 and finished 13-69 before management disbanded the trio after 2 seasons.

Durant, Green and Westbrook are mainstays in Oklahoma City. But it's hardly safe to assume anyone else on the 15-man roster will be around for the long haul. The next few seasons undoubtedly will be filled with roster turnover in an attempt to surround Durant & Co. with the right pieces.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 11, 2008


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