Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
The Oklahoma City Thunder notched their 20th win of the season on Monday, and with it drew a comparison to the 1988-89 world champion Detroit Pistons in the process.
There's nothing like making wild comparisons with current teams to legendary teams from yesteryear to start a heated argument with a good friend. The nerve I must have for thinking that the Oklahoma City Thunder could be comparable to the....Bad Boys of the late 80's? Really?
Check my thoughts on the comparison as I share my Three Thunder Thoughts for Tuesday.
In their growth from complete garbage to a potential dynasty, OKC skipped over two or three steps. When they beat San Antonio in six in the Western Conference Finals last year, it certainly felt like they bloomed a year earlier than expected. Now, there's no question: they're the best team in the Western Conference, and proved it by giving it to the Spurs, 107-93. OKC's big four scored all but four points for the Thunder in the first half, but it was probably Serge Ibaka (25 points, 17 rebounds) alone who made all of the difference. He made his first six shots, and had the announcers screaming, "Don't touch him! Don't speak to him! You might wake him up!" The big fella has really improved this year, being incredibly assertive offensively and not looking lost on the other end (even though he's a great shotblocker, this is the first season where he's actually been a decent all-around defender). Does Ibaka become an All-Star soon? It's certainly possible...
The Perk Lean (Daily Thunder): I almost called this The Perk-o-Leaner or the Perk-o-Lator, but they just sound crazily awkward. Although I could be convinced to change my mind on this. Check out Kendrick Perkins dip and strut on the Spurs with his egregiously slow 15-foot jump shot attempt.
Dominating at the line and on the boards (Welcome To Loud City): Its been fascinating to see the improvement in key areas of the Thunder thus far in the new season. We've mentioned before about the improved ball movement and the uptick in assists, as OKC's tied for 9th with 22.4 a game. Yet, with the departure of James Harden and a shift in the depth of the frontcourt, the worry of rebounding against other big teams and getting to the line has been a cause of concern.
On Monday night, it was no concern at all:
For those looking for where the Thunder were able to separate themselves from the Spurs, OKC had 27 points from the line, compared to 14 from the Spurs. OKC was also able to dominate the boards, out-rebounding the opponent 49-37.
There's something about what Oklahoma City's doing that reminds me of the Detroit Pistons from the late 80's. A young team who grew together and experienced things together, a team who had to deal with a mega-trade of key personnel (6-time All-Star Adrian Dantley was traded MIDSEASON for 3-time All-Star and good buddy of isiah Thomas' in Mark Aguirre), lost in the NBA Finals the year prior (lost in '88 to the Lakers) and the following year feeling like things are just clicking.
The 1988-89 Pistons finished with the league's best record at 63-19 and ended up sweeping the defending champion Lakers to claim their first NBA title. While Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars were the two big stars for the Pistons, the roster of Detroit as a whole was supremely deep. Eight players played almost 22 minutes a game and were able to wear other teams down with size, speed and versatility. Its a formula that's similarly been used by OKC thus far this season, and it could give someone the belief that these Thunder players could walk in the footsteps of the Pistons 24 years prior.
Will they thought? We'll soon find out, but lets just hope that Ibaka doesn't end up bleaching his hair blonde and start wearing wedding dresses in the process.