Commentary

NBA Offseason Buzz: Thunder

Durant is on the verge of stardom, but questions remain about other young players

Originally Published: August 30, 2009
By John Hollinger & Ric Bucher | ESPN Insider

Want to know who's heating up for a big season on the hardwood? Insider is tapping into John Hollinger's projected player efficiency ratings to see who's trending up and down across the NBA. Ric Bucher rounds out the report by examining a pivotal player you'll want to watch as the season approaches. The series continues with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder had the NBA's fourth-worst record, which doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment until you consider that the team dealt with an abrupt change in cities and then a midseason change in coaches (from P.J. Carlesimo to Scott Brooks) and started 3-23. Drafting Arizona State shooting guard James Harden adds another solid piece to the Thunder core, but GM Sam Presti didn't find a big man worthy of his cap space. The natural growth of Kevin Durant, an uninterrupted summer of preparation and a full training camp with center Nenad Krstic should catapult them into the middle of the Western Conference pack, but flirting with the playoffs will have to wait until they add another piece.

To see which player is taking off, who is crashing to earth and which name you'll need to know for the 2009-10 season, you must be an ESPN Insider.