Is the Title Window Closing for the Thunder?

In every sport, there is a championship window. This window may stay open 10 years, 15 years, or as soon as 3 years, depending on the players, salary cap and drafts. We saw the Lakers window stay open recently for over 12 years, then emphatically SLAM shut. We saw the Atlanta Braves in Major League Baseball stay open much of the 90’s and 2000’s, then SLAM shut – partially open again, now. We can go on and on. Yankees, Heat, Alabama Crimson Tide, Oklahoma Sooners, USC Trojans, really the list can go on and on. We can add the Oklahoma City Thunder to this list at the current time.

Since 2010, the Thunder has had a “real” chance to win the NBA title. The Thunder have boasted a 4 time scoring champion in Kevin Durant, the 2012 Finals runner-up, and the emergence of Serge Ibaka as a real member of “The Big 3”. All this sounds great, so why the panic?

Continue reading Is the Title Window Closing for the Thunder?

In 2011, LeBron James stunned the world and “headed to South Beach” to join forces with Dwyane Wade, and later Chris Bosh, to form a “big 3.” We saw how that panned out. Over 4 years, the Heat’s “window” stayed open for 4 years where the Heat brought Miami 2 titles and 2 other finals appearances. Since then, multiple NBA players have joined forces with other stars to form these “mega teams.” Before LeBron, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce in Boston forming a “big 3.” That theory also brought a title to Boston. This offseason, Pau Gasol joined Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago forming another “big 3.”

Now, why do I spend so much time prefacing? Because the fear in OKC is that Durant is gone after this contract to go join Wall and Beal in DC, his hometown, forming a big 3 with the Wizards. Let’s say this happens. This means, theoretically, the Thunder have 2 more years of “the window” to win the NBA title. Once Durant is gone, and maybe he won’t be, the title window closes.

This brings me to my next point. The NBA Draft. The last 2 drafts, OKC has owned 2 first round picks. Let’s go back and revisit these two.

2013 NBA Draft:
Round 1, Pick 12: Steven Adams
Round 1, Pick 26: Andre Roberson

Assessment: I really believe Steven Adams will evolve into a 12pt, 10reb type center, which is a luxury in this day in age. Will he be an all-star? Not likely, but possible. Will he be able to be a part of a “big 3”? Again, not likely. Is he a perfect role player? Absolutely. He compliments the scoring of KD, Russell and Serge great, but will never have his number called to put on a scoring display.

Andre Roberson was supposed to replace Thabo Sefolosha, and he’s gotten a LOT better over the past year. Again, could he ever be part of a “big 3”? Probably not. Will he be a great compliment to an already established “big 3”? Possibly. I truly think the jury is still out, but as for now; these guys are role players who would go around KD, Westbrook and Serge.

Overall, the jury is still out. These guys could turn into legit NBA players who are household names.

2014 NBA Draft:
Round 1, Pick 21: Mitch McGary
Round 1, Pick 29: Josh Huestis

Assessment: I’ll keep this short. No one knows how this will turn out, but on paper, you have to think these guys won’t really have a thumbprint on the next 2 years. McGary has a chance to be pretty good. He played really well in Orlando in Summer League. I think Huestis is a complete project at this point, and for a first rounder, you hate to see that, unless it’s an International player with crazy upside.

Since Sam Presti has joined the Thunder as General Manger, he has made 1 mistake. Kendrick Perkins. Other than that, you have to appreciate his work. Getting Durant to drop in his lap behind Greg Oden, picking Russell Westbrook 4th overall, drafing Serge out of the blue, James Harden, Reggie Jackson, etc. So I’ll stick with “In Presti We Trust”.

It’s hard to imagine the Thunder could persuade big name NBA free agents to join OKC, being a small market, and not willing to enter luxury taxes. This being said, the draft and trades are the only feasible way the Thunder can get stars to align in the Chesapeake Energy Arena. So, Thunder fans, hope Adams, Roberson, McGary and Huestis pan out. If not, the window will be sealed shut if KD truly decides to head back home to DC.

In closing, I think the Thunder need to make serious noise in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, before the window will likely close.

If KD and Russell stick around, I reserve the right to delete this article. Until next time, THUNDER UP!

High Expectations in Norman

When the AP preseason poll was released and the Sooners landed in the #4 spot, it was inevitable that there would be high expectations in Norman. I suppose we should have seen this coming following the Sugar Bowl victory over the vaunted Crimson Tide, but are the expectations warranted?

Continue reading High Expectations in Norman

Don’t forget that the Sooners were fairly substantial underdogs in their final two games of the 2013 season. No one expected them to defeat OSU in the final game of the regular season and if you tried to argue that the Sooners would hang with Alabama in the Sugar Bowl then you were ridiculed as being a delusional homer.

The Sooners prevailed and ended the season in dramatic fashion defeating Alabama handily. The expectations in Norman went from zero to sixty in no time flat. Remember the last time the Sooners were highly touted in the preseason polls? Let me jog your memory back to 2011 that began with a #1 overall preseason ranking and ended with a trip to the Insight Bowl.

No question that the emergence of Trevor Knight in the Sugar Bowl has garnered the Sooners the majority of their hype. He torched the Crimson Tide through land and air creating an excitement in Sooner nation for the 2014 season. Questions of Knight’s ability to sustain this type of production were on the minds of every Sooner fan.

So what are we to make of these renewed expectations in Norman? Are they justified or are we looking at another year of disappointment? Through two games against lower-tier opposition, it’s hard to tell.

The defense has looked superb, but we expected that against Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. The offense was generic and Knight wasn’t asked to do much, but they were still able to put up gaudy numbers.

The emergence of a new backfield trio featuring Ross, Ford, and Perine was a definite bright spot. After the preseason incident that got highly touted recruit Joe Mixon suspended for the year, many fans were curious how the Sooner backfield would shake out. Turns out they are in very capable hands.

With the addition of the new four-team college playoff system being implemented this year, the Sooners are being pegged by nearly every analyst in the land to end up among those final four. Will they finally realize these expectations and run the table through a very winnable Big 12? The first step begins this Saturday against SEC foe Tennessee.

A New Era In College Football

College Game Day kicked off the 2014-15 season in one of America's greatest cities: Fort Worth. With all the buzz and excitement that filled Sundance Square there was a certain air of confidence that permeated from each and every fan. The dog days of summer are over! Come out of your sports hibernation! Come and see the light! The September air has never felt so fresh, the sound of Lee Corso has never rung so true, even the idiocy that is David Pollack is welcome! Because it all means one thing: Football's back, baby!

Continue reading A New Era In College Football

This season the excitement goes beyond the renewed hope that this is the year for your team, it goes beyond the new uniform combinations of Oregon and beyond the fact that we have something other than baseball to watch. This year college football introduces an actual playoff system. Gone is the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and long live the days of the College Football Playoff (CFB Playoff)! 

Sure the CFB Playoff has it's haters, but don't for a second think that I am one of those. I'm all for it! Here's why I love the CFB Playoff: progress. Is it a perfect system? Absolutely not! But is it better than the BCS? By the beard of Zues, YES! The BCS year after year failed college football. How can you have a landscape with so many teams that will never play each other and expect to chose the best two? Computer algorithms and writers voting just didn't cut it. Each year you had one, two or three teams that could have made a legitimate case for being in the national championship game. Yet, each year, as we all know since Auburn's grievances in 2004, were left out. 

Does the CFB Playoff eliminate the fact that someone's going to get left out? Nope. But it sure does minimize the chances of an actual contender not getting a shot to play it's way into the championship game. Again, I don't think this is a perfect system, it's far from it. But what I do love is the fact that college football is taking steps in the right direction. 

Yes, you can make the argument that a playoff system takes away from what makes college football "great" in your opinion, but I would disagree. By allowing a playoff system you are not negating the fact that every game still matters. Playing a 12 game schedule still means that one loss could be the end of the road for your team. Does it guarantee that? No, but neither did it when we had the BCS. You could still lose one game and get in the national championship game, it happened quite often. But what it does is give you a chance to prove if that one loss was a fluke or not. It gives more conferences a chance to prove their worth instead of just falling into this SEC bias we've found ourselves in for nearly a decade. Each game still matters because there can still be four teams that all go undefeated and your one loss team not get in. 

Again, we haven't arrived just yet with the perfect playoff system. Eventually they're going to have to expand it. How far they should expand it is the real question though. Do we need something reminiscent of what college basketball has? Let's not be silly. Well then what about a twelve team playoff like the NFL has? I don't know if that is the best option for college football. It works well for the pros but college is a different animal.

To me, an eight team playoff would be juuuuust right. This way you give the best teams from all over the country a chance to prove themselves. Because college football has so many different teams and conferences there needs to be a way to minimize doubt. In my mind, this would do it. Yea you're going to get that ninth ranked team upset because they got left out, but I'm willing to sacrifice that more than I would the fifth ranked team. Here's my logic, the chances that a fifth ranked team could win it all is far greater than the ninth. I know that you could just ask, "Duh Caleb, but where does it stop?" At some point you just gotta treat it like a Band-Aid and rip it off. 

I will say this, the new trophy they designed for the championship is lame. It's the most basic, ugly excuse of a trophy they could have come up with. I don't know who was in charge of that, but they dropped the ball. Hard. 

All in all though, we are witnessing a great new era in college football. The work's not done yet, but we're on our way.