The Thunder probably is a year away from being a serious playoff contender in the rugged Western Conference. If Oklahoma City played in the Eastern Conference it might be a different story where 37 or 38 wins sometimes get you in post-season.
Still, it’s been somewhat surprising this week how Thunder players have avoided making predictions. It’s been so consistent when asked the “P” question it’s as if players have been coached up by the organization to essentially say “We’re going to work hard every day, give it our all and let the chips fall where they may.”
Shaun Livingston was the only player at Media Day who said shooting for the playoffs should be a goal for the Thunder this season.
Veteran Nick Collison, always a straight shooter, summed it up well:
“It’s tough to judge us,” Collison said. “We are a very talented team that could make a huge push. We’re capable of it. But with that being said we’re probably 25 games short from our record last year. That’s a huge jump.
“As players we’re expecting to be a much better team. We’re expecting to not get off to a bad start like we did last year that put us in such a deep hole. As the season goes along, anything can happen. It’s hard to say we’re going to be in the playoffs or not be in the playoffs. We do feel much better about our team. But it’s a process.”
Process, of course, is general manager Sam Presti’s favorite word. He only uses it a zillion times a year.
If you read between the lines most players are cautiously optimstic. But after experiencing a humbling 3-29 start last season you get the feeling players would rather prove on the court they’re a team on the rise like many project than to make a bold prediction.