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News » Thunder must preserve core


Thunder must preserve core


Thunder must preserve core
Sam Presti has made offers to the Clippers for Blake Griffin. You know he has. Wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't.

The Clippers have counter-offered. You know they have. Wouldn't be, well, it's the Clippers, so forget I said anything.

But the end result is almost certain to keep Griffin in LaLa Land and we might never know how far the Thunder was willing to go to keep Big Blake in his hometown.

We do know where the Thunder should draw the line. At Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook.

Do not break up the cornerstone trio of Kevin Durant, Green and Westbrook.

They are too promising. Too talented. Too good together.

I know that seems goofy to say about a trio that led OKC to 23 wins last season. But forget the 23 wins.

Literally.

Throw that win total into Lake Hefner and never think of it again.

The 2008-09 record was absolutely irrelevant.

This franchise was broken down to be built back up.

You don't judge marines halfway through boot camp, and you don't judge NBA teams built around pups who haven't seen their 23rd birthday.

When novice general manager Presti traded Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis two drafts ago, he set his franchise on a clear course. Rocky and rough at first, but with the hope of smooth sailing ahead.

Just like driving through the desert to reach the beach.

You don't get to Death Valley and abandon ship. You keep going. The '09 Thunder was designed to win 23 games or some similarly dismal number.

Presti has a plan, and that plan is going swimmingly despite the record, and that plan includes Durant, Green and Westbrook as the core.

They are a special threesome.

They are an historic threesome.

In NBA history, 449 teams have produced a trio of players that combined to average at least 57 points a game. Of those 449 trios, only 10 had ages that added up to less than 70 years old.

Durant, Westbrook and Green were a combined 62; that's an average age of 20.7 years. The next-youngest trio - 1982 Pistons John Long, Kelly Tripucka and Isiah Thomas - were 67.

That's a huge difference. The league never has seen anything like this, three players this productive this young.

A 20-year-old star in Durant whose future literally has no limit. A 20-year-old in Westbrook whose athletic ability suggests lockdown defensive skills but who averaged 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a rookie point guard. And a 22-year-old glue guy in Green who plays both forward positions well, averaged 16.5 points in Year 2 and is loved by Durant. Every Batman needs a Robin.

These guys would make for an interesting Thunder future if they were 23, 23 and 25. At 20, 20 and 22, this trio has no ceiling. Players this young improve exponentially. They will be much better in three years than they are today, and they're already pretty darn good.

And with this draft, the young Thunder is about to get even younger at the core, if Presti's eye is as good on this draft as it was when he nabbed Green and Westbrook the past two Junes.

Don't be tempted to break them up. Not even for Blake Griffin.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 26, 2009

 

 
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