Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder: Comparing the Rockets

by Berry Tramel Published: April 22, 2013

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted on Sunday that the Thunder-Rockets series has a lot of similarities between the 2007 playoff series between the Mavericks and the Warriors. The eighth-seeded Warriors upset the top-seeded Mavericks.

I can see the similarities. This series, like that one, has an eight seed and a one seed. After that, not much. The Thunder has a huge matchup advantage in this series, and the Rockets aren’t likely to find a way to make it competitive.

Much more interesting is the similarities between the 2010 playoff series matching the top-seeded Lakers and the eighth-seeded Thunder. That was the series OKC took to six games, missing a Game 7 only on Pau Gasol’s putback at the buzzer in Game 6. The ’10 Thunder, like the ’13 Rockets, boasted some young talent that figured to grow into a really competitive team.

Of course, it’s hard to see the current Rockets eventually matching the star power of that Thunder team. Even if you give Houston James Harden as an equal to Russell Westbrook or even Kevin Durant, the Rockets don’t have another. Or a Serge Ibaka, who was a 20-year-old rookie in those 2010 playoffs.

But the Rockets are young. No doubt about that. Houston really only goes seven players deep. Here is their pedigree:

Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley all are 24. Beverley is a rookie, Parsons is in his second year, Lin his third. Harden, 23, is in his fourth season.

Omer Asik, 27, is in his third season. Terrence Jones, 21, is a rookie. Carlos Delfino, 30, is in his eighth year.

Good, young nucleus. But nothing at all like a team that won 50 games (like the Thunder in 2009-10) with two 21-year-olds (Durant and Westbrook), two 20-year-olds (Harden and Ibaka). That Thunder team was so young, 22-year-old Jeff  Green was called Uncle Jeff.

Still, this is not to undermine the Rocket success. Houston has done a nice job retooling its franchise. The Rockets won 45 games with a makeshift roster. Smith was in the D-League last year. Now he’s starting on a Western Conference playoff team.

“I’ve come a long way,” Smith said. “Come from the D league to not playing, to getting the chance to play in a playoff. I’m blessed. Got some good coaches that tell me what to do , what my role is. I look forward to what’s happening in the future.”

The Rockets have a bright future. But the same immediate future as the 2007 Warriors? No. The same long-term future as the 2010 Thunder? No way.

 

 


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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...
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