Sometimes wins and losses are the result of who you play as much as how well you play. That’s why Thunder fans need not panic, thinking Oklahoma City’s new NBA franchise is in for a long season. One advantage working in the Thunder’s favor is the schedule. Oklahoma City could gain early season momentum and post a respectable record at the All-Star break. Almost half (25) of the Thunder’s first 51 games are against teams that missed the playoffs last season. In contrast, starting Feb. 17, Oklahoma City will play 21 of its final 31 games against teams that reached the playoffs. Don’t put too much stock in preseason results. Many teams don’t play their stars. The Thunder also has faced unusual circumstances. OKC has been hampered by injuries and played five games in seven days in five cities. Oklahoma City’s roster has obvious shortcomings. The lack of legitimate 3-point shooters and an established center are deficiencies. No one will be so bold to predict the Thunder will make the playoffs. But there are positives. There is enough depth for a decent 10-man rotation. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green should play better their second seasons. Adding veterans Desmond Mason and Joe Smith will help. Center Johan Petro is making major strides. There’s another huge benefit — home-court advantage. Playing 41 in the Ford Center will benefit the Thunder similar to momentum the Hornets gained their two seasons in Oklahoma City. One fan e-mailed to say the Thunder "is a really bad team” but the silver lining was Oklahoma City should have the first or second pick which might allow general manager Sam Presti to draft OU star Blake Griffin. No need to be that pessimistic. Oklahoma City probably will finish with a losing record. But with a manageable early season schedule, and Ford Center home-court advantage, the Thunder could win a lot more games than most people think.