Oklahoma City opens its preseason home schedule tonight against the one opposing team Thunder fans should track the most in 2009-10 — the Phoenix Suns.
Tonight’s game is only game three of the exhibition season for both teams. That means there is the potential for some bad stretches of basketball played by guys you might have never heard of. But Thunder fans should pay close attention to these Suns this season because no team will have more of an impact on Oklahoma City. Here are five reasons to watch the Suns: → The Thunder owns Phoenix’s first-round pick Here’s why Thunder fans want to root against Phoenix. The worse the Suns do, the better the draft selection becomes that Phoenix must convey to the Thunder. Many project the Suns to be worse than last year’s squad that won 46 games and missed the playoffs. If that happens, the Thunder could own two top-14 selections in next year’s draft. →The race for the eighth seed With Houston losing Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to injuries and Ron Artest to free agency, the Rockets are widely considered to be a team in decline. If the Rockets miss the playoffs this season, that will open one spot for a postseason hopeful in the highly competitive Western Conference. The Thunder would exceed everyone’s expectations if it reached the eighth seed. But that ambition would be assisted if the Suns fall off.