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Oklahoma City Thunder may take a step back in 2010-11

The rise to greatness in the NBA can be a long process. Columnist Berry Tramel advises Thunder fans that the meteoric rise many are expecting may not continue in 2010-11.
by Berry Tramel Modified: October 26, 2010 at 11:37 am •  Published: October 24, 2010

Nick Collison stood in the Thunder practice facility a year ago and talked about how tough comes progress in the NBA.

"You don't pick up 30 games just like that," Collison said.

Collison proved prophetic in truth but not in spirit. The Thunder gained 27 victories, rising from 23 to 50, creating a tremor that rumbles into this season.

National pundits declare the Thunder the next great team. City fathers map out routes for championship parades. Thunder fans settle in for a decade-long cruise to NBA glory.

But before Oklahoma City starts taking aim at Titletown, USA, let's go back to St. Nick. He fundamentally was right. Progress is tough to come by in the NBA. Championships are not awarded, they are earned. Hard-earned.

Which is why the Thunder might not continue their meteoric rise in Year 3 in OKC. Why the Thunder could, egads, fall back into 40-something wins. In fact, I'm picking 49 victories, because no way can the Thunder have the health it had a year ago.

"Odds are, probably not," Collison said. "Pretty unprecedented run of health."

Four Boomers started all 82 games, and Nenad Krstic started 76. Things didn't turn out that well on Marcus Welby.

But even if the Thunder avoids injury, there's no guarantee this young team keeps posting advanced win totals.

This is a league of patience. Take two steps up, one step back. A step forward, a step sideways, another step forward, a step back. That's the way it is.

And just because the Thunder took about 68 steps forward last season is no reason to believe it is immune to the other laws of NBA physics.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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