If you know a little about me, you probably know I'm one of the most optimistic guys you'll read around here. I'm crazy enough to think the Kings could come back from being 30 down on the road after a terrible first half, and I'm also stupid enough to think that Udrih, Martin, Greene, Thompson, and Hawes could win a ring. Yes, it's true! To be fair, the second one was before I found StR and became 'knowledgeable' about the game (quotations used because I'm still pretty dumb).
While I'm one of the many that will continue to root for the team no matter what I'm also not out of touch with reality (most times!). I can accept the fact that the past couple weeks have been bad for Kings fans. Personally, I've gone from anxious, to excited, to complacent, to dissapointed, to angry, to satisfied, to hopeful. I never had unrealistic expectations, I went with 33 Ws for the year during preseason, but I also didn't think we were going to look this bad during the easiest stretch of the season. But ohh well... shit happens, and expectations, as modest as they were, need to be adjusted. Many things are going wrong but I don't dwell on the bad when there's stll some good to look at, even if we need to look at it from a different angle.
So as a ridiculously positive dude, what the hell am I going to do? I'll just waste my time comparing my young team to another young team that has been/ has a good chance of being very successful in the NBA hoping that this would somehow cheer me up. Done and done.
Before I move on to my humble research, let me make one thing clear: there's only one OKC Thunder. What they did last year, going from 23 Ws to 50 Ws is not going to happen with our Kings next year. The Kings don't have a Kevin Durant, a top 3 stud in this league, and as much as we love Tyreke, is highly unlikely he will be on that level or even close to it next year. There's still some things to learn from their voyage however. Please keep in mind, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, I'll just like to present some data and you can all do what you please with that.
I wrote something similar to what I'm about to do last season, at the beginning of the year. It's here (reading it again, it's funny how easy I forgot what I wrote). I'm using this post as a reminder to myself and hopefully something good will also come out of it for you all.
On that post I looked at both the Thunder and Blazers and compared them to the where the Kings were at the time. I looked at these teams beginnings and how they did record wise after the first couple years of their rebuilding. My conclusion a the time? It was going to take time to see the results of a young rebuilding team. That's how it worked with OKC, really. That's how I hope it will work for the Kings. If the Kings can achieve 75% of what the Thunder has, then I think we may be alright. Why 75%? Random number that is kinda realistic but that could also mean we end up in the right spot.
For a more detailed look at the Thunder's moves please refer back to my old post, I have the info in there.
Following stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com
Kevin Durant was drafted in 2007 (along with Jeff Green) leading the then Seattle Supersonics to a record of 20-62. PJ Carlesimo was the coach for that team. Their offensive rating 100.5 was good for 29th in the league and their D rating was a 109.5, 20th in the league. They scored 97.5 pts a game on 44% from the floor and allowed their opponents to score 106.3 pts per game with a FG% of 46%.
Tyreke Evans is no Kevin Durant (obviously), but he's shown to be a pretty good player in his first year in the league. We hope he's THAT guy for the Kings so eventhough he's nowhere near Durant's level, for comparison's sake we'll compare that first year Durantula team with last year's Kings team.
Last year the Kings drafted Tyreke Evans who led the Kings to a record of 25-57. New coach Paul Westphal coached this team. Our offensive rating of 105.3 was good for 22nd in the L while our defensive rating of 109.9 was good for 20th our of 30. The Kings scored 100 point per game on 45% from the floor and allowed opponents to score 104.4 points on 47% from the floor.
In his second year in the league (and a move to OKC) Kevin Durant led the Thunder to a record of 23-59. The team added Russell Westbrook through the draft and after a 1-12 start to the season canned PJ Carlesimo and gave the reins of the team to a young Scott Brooks who coached them to a 22-47 end to the season. For that whole year, OKC's offensive rating was 102.9, good for 29th in the league, and had a defensive rating of 109.4, 20th out of 30. They scored 97 points per game while shooting 45% from the floor and allowed their opponents to score 103.1 pts at 48%.
Simple numbers suggest a no more than a modest improvement (if that) for this young Thunder team. Difference from year one to year two? One more year for Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, one year of RW, and a new coach after a slow start (don't expect or want PW's situation to be the same, in case I need to make it clear). So what can I infer from this? I'm not really sure, other than Kevin Durant, the undisputed star of this Thunder team having to endure a couple bad years with a combined record of 43-121. Numbers don't suggest much improvement in offense or defense, and remember that whole Kevin Durant +/- crap.... yeah about that.
Small sample size alert.... SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT!!
So how about the Sacramento Kings this year, only 9 games into the season? Offensive rating of 106.8 (14th in the league) and D rating of 112.6, dead last. 99.8 pts scored on 45% shooting and allowing 105.2 pts on a terribe 49% shooting. Might as well throw this out the window because of the...wait for it.. small sample size (!) but already looked at the numbers so might as well write them down. Anyways.... more Thunder
Third Durant year is when it gets good: record of 50-32 under Scotty Brooks and a hard fought series in the first round of the playoff against the eventual champions. Offensive rating of 108.3, 12 out of 30, and a defensive rating of 104.6 (9th best). They scored 101.5 pts on 47% and allowed 98 pts on 45%. Huge leap here that (let me repeat) the Kings won't be able to replicate. But could they actually get within 75% or some other positive percentage of what OKC did?
Maybe, maybe not. I'm not gonna say they will because I honestly don't know. Even all the optimism in the world isn't going to make me declare the Kings are going get somewhere near that level, but I can sure hope. The Sonics/Thunder had 2 pretty bad seasons after drafting their guy, the Kings are beginning their second so it could go either way. I'll be my stupid self and stay positive, you do you.
Rbiegler said in a preseason post "Why not us?" I ask the same question, why can't we improve to X% of what a team like the Thunder did? This post is just a case of "if they did it, why can't we?" We may crash and burn and may go on a 30 game losing streak to continue the season, but for some of us there will always be that 75% Thunder chance. The league is not symmetric, and history doesn't necesarily repeats itself, but I will continue to hang on to a good example as long as I can (plus I won't have any more excuses to make for this team next year!)
Some smart dude said something like "I’d still rather be here than where we were 730 days ago" and I couldn't agree more. I hope in 541 days we're in an even better place and I choose to believe we'll get there because I don't care about being right, I'm more into being hopeful.