Ric Bucher, ESPN the MagazineWhat are your impressions of the Thunder so far? This is my new favorite team, because I love the chemistry, I love the transformation and the way they’ve played since the coaching change. I love seeing a young team that is excited about playing together and is playing loose and free without any pressure and clearly enjoys being on the floor playing. And that’s what I see from the Thunder right now. How long do you think before this team is in playoff contention? I’m going to say next year they could be battling for that eighth spot. Is that a little optimistic, is that a little progressive and forward-thinking, is that a little edgy? Absolutely. But I can make that case, because they’ve got a great nucleus, they’ve got a ton of cap space, they’ve got draft picks. I mean, the flexibility that they have to improve and the fact that when you have a Kevin Durant, you have a superstar in the making. Now you just need to get the right pieces around him at the right price. What do you think of the job general manager Sam Presti has done so far? I think it’s been very solid. And I’ve asked other GMs to compare the job he’s done with Minnesota, Memphis and Portland and some of those other teams that are trying to get a step up. The feeling is he’s put them in the best position, because they have that cap flexibility. They don’t have any bad contracts. When Chris Wilcox is your highest paid player at $6-something (million) and it’s expiring, that’s incredible. And most important, he’s been able to fill the most difficult positions to fill. If you believe that Russ Westbrook is a point guard in this league, and I do. And if you believe that Kevin Durant is a superstar in the making, and I do. That and having a post-up guy or a legitimate guy who can score off the block and block shot, but they’ve got two out of the three most difficult pieces to get. When you look at the draft, who’s a better fit, Blake Griffin or Ricky Rubio? Blake Griffin, without question. What Rubio does, while he’s intriguing, I don’t know how that fits chemistry-wise with Kevin and Russ in particular. Blake, you can put him on the floor and he can contribute something right away and it’s not going to take away from what these other guys do. BY DARNELL MAYBERRY For more questions and answers with Bucher, check out the Thunder Rumblings blog at blog.newsok.com/nbainokc.