So an interesting thing happened on the way to this roster
After years of defending the Sonics "we don't have to tank" mentality I can look at todays roster and think "wow, if we hadn't tanked we would not have Kevin Durant."
It makes me look at some of the arguments I've been on both sides of through the years and be pretty stunned by the answers that I wind up with.
For starters how about the argument that you need top 10 draft talent to win in this league?
4 years ago I was stuck arguing that Rashard Lewis played like top 10 talent and that between him, #5 pick Ray Allen, and a bunch of 12-14 picks could develop to the point where they could content. Now I look at it and we are sitting here with #2 & #5 overall picks in Durant and Green, #8 Chris Wilcox, and #6 pick Wally Szczerbiak. Despite what you may think of Wally all of these guys are under 30 years old and should be able to contribute. Joining them is Nick Collison, also a lottery pick, and the combo of Robert Swift and Mo Sene, both of whom were technically lotto guys and may have a value higher(Swift), or lower(Sene) than their actual selection would indicate because of draft strength and potential alone.
The big one for me was always that you simply had to blow up the team in order to get that top talent. The argument pretty much states that being "middle of the road" is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a franchise and that you have to jettison veteran players in order to get the top talent we're talking about above.
Does our team prove or disprove that theory?
On one hand after landing Durant I am all over the theory that life gets a lot easier with a top 2 pick. On the other we never really did blow up our team for draft picks until after that Durant selection was made. We traded GP for Ray and held onto the aging star until we got crappy all on our own. Somehow, despite all that we managed to land the lotto talent listed above. Pretty stunning.
I'm going to conclude that I have been right all along. The single differentiating thing about the truly successful franchise is that you have to get a lucky break somewhere along the line and then maximize that break. You can tank it, you can keep the team together, it doesn't matter without that lucky break. Houston got theirs a few times over, landing Yao Ming and having both Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady fall into their laps. They have barely managed to make the most of that. The Spurs had an odd culmination of injury lead them to Tim Duncan and our luck was much the same way. We were not the 5th worst team in the league talent wise last season and got lucky with the ping pong balls to move up from there. Having Presti on board seemingly making the right decisions puts us in position to maximize this situation and, if we manage to save these franchises there is tremendous reason for optimism.
Lets talk about the talent level on this roster. Is it suprising? How does it compare to other teams in the league?