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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Off Season Thoughts on The Blunder

Going into the new season the Blunder should likely be a better team than last season. Of course, making that prediction about a 23-win team is a no brainer - even if that team is run by village idiot, Clay Bennett.

Short term; James Hardin - a decent pick up in the draft. Frankly, there's no perfect fit in a thin draft - outside of their dream scenario Blake Griffin. But Griffin is a Clipper and Hardin is a Blunder. Deal with it. No one knows how he'll fit in until game time. He's a good athlete - chemistry remains to be seen.

The Blunder should be able to climb near the .500 mark this season - another year of playing together and consistent coaching will help. Dumping worst-possible-coaching-selection-of-all-time PJ Carlisimo will surely help. We all know he was never selected to make the Sonics/Blunder good - but a scape-goat/stop-gap until Bennett and his ilk could pry the team from a City that refused to be strong-armed into wasting mega-money on foolish investments. Scott Brooks should be able to gleen 35-40wins from this group of young athletic players. I don't see a playoff appearance for the Blunder next season - they simply do not have the right elements to make a strong enough push - their inside presence is lacking as is overall experience. That'll be tough to overcome in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

A very surprising, and potentially ominous indication of the Blunder's future can be traced back to last season; very few sellouts. Only 18 out of 41 home games were sold out in the Blunder's inaugural season in OKC. Is it because they weren't winning? Lack of local NBA interest? Financial inability of the local market to support the team? Truth be told, all those things probably factored into it.

Looking down the road I see the Blunder playing out their time in OKC and moving on to another city - probably in five years when the Ford Center escape-clause can be triggered, and I think it will be. The team is destined to be a money loser - and poor decisions on things as simple as name and uniforms will doom this team. Sure, the local fans will try and counter that argument with their rose colored view of the world. But the fact is that the Blunder needed someone to create a smarter and more desirable brand to consumers outside of the OKC market - a savvy name and uniforms/color scheme/logo would absolutely increase the teams merchandise outside of the local market. As is, they are bound to only be appealing to the locals, resulting in a revenue stream minimized because of small-minded thinking. You can argue that it make no difference - that these things are trivial. And they may be. But if you look at the bigger picture - it's indicative of this ownership group's inability to maximize the situation.

The Blunder will play on the brink of being competitive for a couple of years - keeping fans hopes alive - and even expanding and growing the fan base locally. However, non-sellouts, shrinking TV money and a gloomy merchandising forecast, make me conclude that this team will lose money steadily until Bennett, etal will finally relinquish it to a more capable and smarter group. I just don't believe they expect to have a team there in the long run. Hope the fans get their money's worth while they are there and that they don't get jilted too badly - like the City that's already paying for upgrades to an Arena for a team that won 23 games. Clay worked a great deal for a desperate town - and they'll pay for it. Right up until the moving trucks haul the team away in a couple years.


JAWA said...

Once again, great thread, auroraave! One thing that struck me was you saying they'd win 35-40 games in Year 2 in OKC. I can't deny the young talent they have, but again, they're still a bit too young to win that many games, especially since they don't have enough veteran presence to help them out. I see them winning 25-30 games, which of course, means yet another 50+ loss season for Bennett's team. But you're right when you say that they're nowhere close to being playoff cotenders, although they have improved by not enough to get them into the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I could see this team pushing 35 wins - 40 if the stars align. They improved under Brooks and have a year under their belt in Blunderland to adjust. They will win games on sheer athleticism and natural growth in maturity. They are still young and soft in the middle, but I find it nearly impossible to not improve on a 23 win season - even if by accident.