starting a trend for the first time, oklahoma city has been matched by washington in more than just the one-win club. the wizards fired their coach to join the thunder in rebuilding a once-proud franchise. both teams now take center stage in the blake griffin watch, but the advantage falls in favor of okc.
washington has more proven talent, but they have been hit hard by the injury bug. also the wizards have been strong the past three-four years, while the thunder had fallen on hard times in seattle. both teams have one star player, and the wizards have two other all-stars. okc could have multiple all-star talents in a couple of years, but only time will tell.
new thunder coach scott brooks is a polar opposite of the former boss, and the differences can only help. brooks won a championship as a player in the nba over his 11-year career, and he is young by coaching standards at 43 years of age. the 1-13 okc club needs a shot in the arm, and it will be up to brooks to provide it...or he won't be adding permanent coach to his job title.
new (again) starting center nick collison returns to a position he has played in the past, and this time it is more out of necessity than choice. collison had a double-double against the hornets at home, then looked rather lost the following day in new orleans. he attempted only four shots on saturday, and it will take some time moving back to the tougher spot in the middle.
collison is a natural power forward, but the play of chris wilcox has pushed the former kansas all-american back inside the paint. robert swift's injury and johan petro's inconsistency didn't help matters, but mainly coach brooks needed to turn to a proven player to stop the bleeding. look for collison to get acclimated quickly and give the thunder a boost in the upcoming weeks.
let the countdown begin until griffin is chosen number one overall. carbert and i are praying the ping-pong balls fall okc's way in the june 09 draft. pairing kevin durant from the outside with the slashing russell westbrook and inside force of griffin would definitely take some of the sting out of this season. but since the basketball gods are not always in a good mood, oklahoma-bred griffin is only a pipe dream at this point.
his most-recent performance of 35 points and 21 rebounds (both career highs) saved a sooner victory against gardner-webb and cemented his place atop the draft boards. the only thing that could stand in the way is that griffin may decide he likes college and not want to opt out of his remaining seasons. but because he came back this year to play one last season with his older brother, the thunder can keep their fingers crossed.
i did away with the other half of my top-50 list given okc's recent (continued) struggles, but we will come up with something clever as soon as the thunder find another w in the victory column.