In some respects, those might be unreasonable hopes. Durant and Westbrook should indeed return as better players. But a good amount of what we're seeing from them in Turkey doesn't translate to the Thunder.
Durant is playing most of his minutes at power forward, so his rebounding production is bound to increase as he spends more possessions playing closer to the basket. But with the Thunder, post players Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka and rookie Cole Aldrich will be relied upon to do most of the board work. And both Durant and Westbrook have looked better as defenders because of coach Mike Krzyzewski's international philosophy of allowing perimeter players to overplay and be more aggressive in man defense and in the passing lanes. That gambling approach goes against the Thunder's defensive principles.
But those facts won't prevent the hype from hanging around in Oklahoma City this season — especially not if Team USA finishes off these final four victories.
"We have to know what it took this (past) year to get where we were this year and make that next jump," said Westbrook. "Hopefully we'll come back next year with the same mindset of coming out and working hard and competing every day."
The bull's-eye, for better or worse, will just be a lot bigger in 2010-11.
16 Week Curriculum With Instructions, Lesson Plans & CNG Conversion Kit