In 2008-2009, the Oklahoma City Thunder were quite mediocre. Despite a promising young rookie guard, a budding superstar, and an overrated SF, the team started off the season under PJ Carlesimo with a 1-12 record before showing him the door and handing the team over to Scotty Brooks. The team ultimately finished the season a far more respectable 22-47 under Brooks but somehow ended up with the 3rd overall draft pick (probably one of the biggest differences between now and then is a .282 win rate won't be nearly bad enough to have the 3rd most ping pong balls) where they took the now Beardiful James Harden.
For the purposes of this post, I'm going to go ahead and ignore the Carlesimo period for 2 reasons: the first is that by removing these 13 games from their schedule we get to a more comparable total games number between the 08-09 Thunder and this year's Pistons and the 2nd being that Scotty Brooks and Lawrence Frank are both relatively short, young, gingers (at least I'm pretty sure Brooks is a ginger)...coincidence? Probably.
So where are these magical comparisons that will give us all hope for the future? Well here we go...Brooks started off his tenure as coach going 4-20. In his next 15 games, his young team rattled off a respectable 8-7 record (compared to our 9-6 record previously) while have multiple games against some of the weaker teams in the league that year including wins against the Pistons, Nets, Warriors and Grizzlies.
Now if we start digging into league rankings between the two teams, the comparison becomes a little closer. Across team shooting statistics, the Thunder were ranked 26th, 28th, and 9th for FG%, 3PT%, and FT% respectively. Thus far, Detroit is ranked 24th, 22nd, and 9th. Pretty comparable.
Total points scored, the two teams are only 1 off with OKC ranking 24th and Detroit ranking 23rd. While Detroit ranks 24th in Turnovers, OKC was 30th. This and the differential in rankings between steals, blocks, and TRB are the widest gaps in the two teams relative rankings for their respective seasons, where OKC was 13th in steals to Detroits 24th, and 22nd in blocks to Detroit's 30th. Of course this just reminds us how desperate we are for blocks, dunks, and rebounds.
So what does all of this TELL us aside from our need for blocks and dunks? Nothing. Pretty much absolutely nothing. But for me, the point of this exercise was not to try and prove that the Pistons of today will evolve into the Thunder of today in just a few more years...it was to keep that burning fire alive in my Pistons heart and soul that anything could happen next year, and that just like the Thunder turned it around with 2 key young players, so could the Pistons.
And, sure, I realize that there are plenty of differences too...OKC's salary situation back then was far better than where we are right now, their fanbase was completely reinvigorated by a recent move to a new city, and perhaps most importantly, their GM has made some incredibly intelligent trades and drafts that have greatly benefited the team over the past 2 years. Well all of that and Kevin Durant anyway.
So cheers to keeping the fire alive fellow fans. Its been a long time since Dumars did something brilliant, but he has done something brilliant before so who knows, maybe it could still happen again...